Hopefully your flashlights don’t look corroded like the picture above, a few simple steps can prevent this kind of damage. Did you just get your first nice flashlight or have you been collecting for a long time? Whoever you are, you need to know how to take care of your flashlight so it lasts as long as the LED does. With LED emitters lasting for 50,000 hours many people lose or destroy their flashlights before the LED dies. 50,000 hours is over 5 ½ years of continuous use. In less than 5 minutes you can maintain the condition of your flashlight so it runs like new.
It is simple to take care of a flashlight and make sure that it works at peak performance for a long time. The four steps to flashlight maintenance are cleaning, replacing, protecting, lubricating. If you follow these four steps 1-2 times a year you will have perfect working flashlights always. You will need to clean your flashlights more if you are in sand, dirt, oil or anything else that can get into the threads very often. Batteries will be covered in a separate article since they are such a big part of how your flashlight works overall.
Cleaning Your Flashlight
Cleaning The Outside
First clean off any dirt or grime on the outside of the flashlight. Using an alcohol pad or another grease cutting evaporating cleaner with and a lint free fabric (like microfiber) wipe the outside, for flashlights with lots of knurling or grooves we recommend using a bristle brush like this or even a hard toothbrush. The last part of cleaning the outside of the light is wiping down the lens, hopefully you have a flashlight with a scratch resistant lens so you can just wipe it off and it is like new. It is important to keep your lens nice and clean since all light goes through the lens and you might not be getting the peak performance out of your flashlight otherwise.
Cleaning The Inside and Cleaning Battery Contacts
After you have cleaned and removed all of the dirt on the outside start taking the light apart. Take out the batteries and remove all visible dirt with the same tools used above. While you are in the flashlight check to see if the springs are working properly. Another tool that might come in handy are cue tips. Q-tips make it a little easier to get in between the threads and down into the battery tube but an alcohol pad will work fine too. If you use a Q-tip or cotton swab make sure that no fibers are left inside the threads. Once all dirt and grime are removed give the threads a nice wipe to remove any old grease. You are now done cleaning your flashlight. If your light has an extra amount of corrosion happening on any contacts (threads, and where batteries touch) you might want to consider upgrading your cleaner to DeoxIT which is specifically designed to clean and enhance electrical contacts.
Replacing & Protecting Flashlight Parts
The O-rings some of the most fragile yet the most important pieces of your flashlight. O-rings keep dirt, grime, and water out of your light. They are what make your flashlight waterproof. They need to stay in good condition! Check to make sure that your O-rings don’t look dried out and cracked. If you notice any cracks, splits or it just doesn’t look like it will stretch any more you will want to replace your O-rings. If you need to replace an O-ring take it off and try to find the same size online or at Home Depot, you might want to first check your manufacturers website to see if they mention O-ring size and material. If the O-rings just look dry then we can keep them on and put some O ring lube on them.
DeoxIT Gold On Contacts
After taking the time to completely clean your flashlight inside and out it is nice to protect your flashlight from corrosion. This step can be skipped but if you get corrosion your flashlight will not work as well as it could and you will have to spend more time cleaning it later. DeoxIT Gold is a specially designed contact enhancer, conditioner & protector. We prefer the type that goes on like marker, it is easier to put on and get down into your flashlight to reach battery contacts. The main contacts on your flashlight are the threads, the spring, and the spots that the battery touches. A small extra step in protection could save you from a bigger headache later and you already have the flashlight taken apart.
Lubricating Your Flashlight
This is the step that makes sure that your flashlight unscrews smoothly and that your O-rings do not dry out. Some of the best lubes are Nyogel, Krytox, Nano-oil, or our preferred since it is easy to find and cheap is Super Lube. We also think that this is a great lubricant for O rings. One of these tubes will last you a long time. You might need different lubes based on the material that your O-rings are made out of but Super Lube should work for most lights
Lubing Your Flashlight
Now lets get lubing, remember to just cover the surfaces do not cake it on. First, lets start with the O-rings. Here is how to lubricate O rings. Try and get a little bit of grease behind the O-ring to make sure we get the entire surface. Next, put a little along the outside of the O-ring. If you are comfortable taking the O-ring off and covering it will grease this works a little better but takes more effort. Next take the Super Lube or whatever lube you picked and rub it into the threads, the goal is to get a thin layer on the entire surface area of the threads. Once you have it all covered with lube screw the parts on and move them back a forward a few times to evenly distribute the lube. All done, time to clean up.
You are all done with your flashlight maintenance, if you do this 1-2 per year your flashlight will be good as new every time you need it. We hope that you found this useful and that it will keep you loving flashlights well into the future. If you want to learn more about flashlights check out our Flashlight Buyers Guide which will give you the 101 on flashlights or if you want to add to your flashlight collections check out our Best Flashlight articles.