How To Clean Car Battery Terminals?

Brandon Trenton

How to Clean Car Battery Terminal

While we leave no stone unturned to ensure that our cars are quintessentially clean, we tend to overlook their batteries. If not cleaned properly, batteries tend to corrode over time. This doesn’t only hamper the car’s performance but also leads to damage to several other associated parts.

It is a lesser-known fact yet a simple one to understand that battery grime can cause unhealthy leakages from the battery, hence, shortening its life. A clean battery assures a stronger performance and a longer working lifespan. Therefore, for a smooth ride, it is imperative to keep the batteries clean and corrosion-free.

There is no denying that the cleaning process is extremely important. However, following structured steps and using some common products, one can easily finish the process with perfection and avoid splurging on car maintenances.

10 Steps Required to Clean a Car Battery Terminal

Step 1: Reach Out To The Battery Terminals

It is noteworthy that one doesn’t need to pull out the entire battery of the vehicle to assess and clean the terminals. Nevertheless, it is necessary to ensure that the battery is in a suitable condition. This implies that there should be no cracks or any other damages to the battery. If unfortunately, the battery is broken, it should be replaced. One can jump to the next step if the battery is fine.

Step 2: Assessing The Condition

This step involves scrutinizing the condition of the battery terminals. You need to lift up the cover placed on the top of the car battery. This cover can be either made of rubber or plastic. If made from the latter, you should be extra sensitive while removing it.

Once the interface has been uncovered, it is time to examine the terminals, their clamps, and their cables. They can be corroded or worn out. If the terminals have been exhausted, it is highly recommended that you discard them without any ado.  If this is not the case, one can move ahead with the typical cleaning process. 

Step 3: Detach The Battery

One of the foremost steps is to disconnect the battery from the car. This can be done by unbolting the nuts on the clamps. Professionals suggest removing the screws with the “-” sign before the ones with the “+” sign.

An important consideration in this process is that you use all the tools, especially the metal ones, with extra caution. Contact between these tools and the battery has the potential to shorten the battery’s life.

Step 4: Time To Make The Healing Solution

Contrary to what one might think, the solution required to clean the battery can be made from basic materials. A mix of 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda and water each can provide you with a magically effective cleaning paste.

Step 5: Combat The Corrosion

It is now time to get into the essence of the cleaning procedure using our recently prepared cleaning agent. While you are into it, avoid getting the paste on the other components of the car. Also, one should wear gloves while carrying out the cleaning drive as the paste is not considered much skin-friendly.

The next task is to thoroughly apply the paste on the car terminals and let it stay. It is easier and effective to apply the solution using a toothbrush. Soon you will start seeing bubbles appear on the surface thanks to the soda’s reaction with corrosion. This marks the beginning of the deep cleansing process.

Step 6: Get Rid Of The Adamant Deposits

Whether your car terminals have light spots or embrace dark and deep spots, you have to scrape them off under this step. This can be done using a knife. Even though requiring the utmost strength, this step is responsible for giving the most visible results. Following this, you should use a wire brush to remove the deposits finely. Do not take your gloves off before this step is over, to prevent any sorts of skin-harm.

Step 7: Rinse The Terminals

The next step is to soak the battery into the water after you are finished with the foaming and the scraping segment. After all the deposits have been duly taken care of, it is time to take around 100 ml of water and soak the battery in it. While doing this, ensure that there is no leftover paste on the battery surface that can possibly rinse with water and enter the battery vents. Reacting with the acids of the battery, the soda can substantially depreciate the battery life.

Step 8: The Drying Step

This simple step involves using an old piece of cloth to wipe off the terminals so that they can dry quickly, and the next step can ensue.

Step 9: Proactive Step Against Future Corrosion

While it is important to ensure that you clean the batteries on a regular basis, it is wise to lessen the chances of corrosion in the future. This can be simply done by smearing the terminals with a petroleum jelly like Vaseline or with anything that is hydrophobic in nature, thus preventing any water penetration.

 Step 10: Bolting It Back Together

Putting the “+” sign bolts prior to the “-“ sign nuts, it is time to clamp it back. This should be done cautiously using a wrench. Now it is time to swap the shields with new ones. If these are made of plastic, one should be gentler while placing them.


It is quite notable that cleaning the battery terminals is not as hard as it seems. The process involves some simple and basic steps. Moreover, the materials required are easily accessible, as well. Just using some simple tools, one can give their car battery a proper cleaning without having to go to a workshop and paying a mechanic to do the same. It is worth noting that one has to pay special attention to personal safety as well as the protection of the car components when carrying out the process.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Is Corrosion A Sign Of A Bad Battery?

Yes, corrosion is certainly a sign of a bad battery. This is because corrosion tends to interfere with the power generation system of the battery terminals and eventually ends up blocking the flow.

Does Cleaning Battery Terminals Help?

Yes, cleaning car terminals helps considerably as it prevents the stalling of the battery at the most inconvenient times. Moreover, clean battery terminals keep the car battery free of any residues and hence, running for a long time.

Can You Clean Battery Terminals While Connected?

No, you cannot clean battery terminals while they are connected to the car. It is essential to detach the battery before cleaning. This helps in proper assessment and cleaning without any unforeseen damage to the associated car parts.