How To Clean Car Battery Terminals

Several guides to cleaing battery terminals on your car.

Owning a car is one thing, and taking good care of it is another thing, and that calls for attention. Like any other machinery, cars do ask for maintenance and repairs when the need arises. For instance, cases of a slow ignition are shared amongst the vehicle owners. Although the complication may be as a result of several problems, it’s mostly triggered by a corroded terminal.

Yes, the white stuff over the terminals and that you ignore can see your EV fail to start.
It’s at this point that many people are always asking what they can do with the corrosion. The answer is simple, cleaning! The only cure for a corroded battery is cleaning, and I mean thorough cleaning.

If you’re a DIY kind of a guy, doing away with the batteries corrosion is a straightforward task. However, if you don’t like doing mechanical stuff by yourself, you can always contact your mechanic to do the cleaning for you. Without saying much, here is a step-by-step guide to help you clean the car battery at your home.

5 Steps to Clean Your Car Battery Contacts

1. Locate the Battery

Your first move should be to locate your car’s battery. The current EVs come with unique engineering, and hence locating their battery can be confusing to some people. You must know that cells are mostly found underneath the car’s hood. They are usually on the left side of the engine area.

However, for some models such as the BMW 5 Series, Chevrolet Cobalt, and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the battery is usually located in the trunk.

2. Access the Terminals

After discovering the battery, your next step should be to access the terminals. You don’t necessarily need to remove the battery from its location to access the terminals. You can perform all the accessing while the battery is still in its first place. Most car batteries come covered with a rubber or plastic cover. If your battery has a terminal cover, remove it gently to access the terminals.

When accessing the terminals, be sure to observe the component. You may notice some cracks or damages within the battery, and that can lead to serious battery troubles if not repaired.

3. Disconnect the Battery

Before proceeding to clean the terminals, you must first disconnect the battery. (Here is how).

Each of the battery’s clamps is usually tightened using nuts. It’s at this point that a wrench comes in handy to help with the unscrewing part. (Here are the tools when you change a battery). Once you unscrew both ends, remove the clamp starting with the negative clamp followed by the positive end.

Be sure to follow the procedure as it helps prevent shorting the battery. You may also need a pair of pliers to unscrew the nuts, and that’s in case the buildup of corrosion happens to be excess. Also, when working on the battery, you must avoid holding metal substances. Doing so can short out your battery hence spoiling it or interfering with its performance.

4. Clean the Terminals

Once the battery is disconnected, it’s time to do the cleaning job. The cleaning can be done using readily-available household items or professional grade supplies.

Cleaning using household items. When it comes to cleaning your battery’s terminals using household items, you will need; baking soda, water, petroleum jelly, and wire-brush/stiffed brush. The procedure is straightforward and easy to follow.

1. Your first step should be to cover the corroded terminals using baking soda. Be sure that the baking soda is enough to cover the terminals, as well as, the area surrounding them.
2. After you’re sure that every corroded area is covered by baking soda, pour some little water on the terminals. The water will trigger a chemical reaction between, and you will see some bubbles. This chemical reaction helps neutralize the acid within the corrosion hence making it safe for you to clean the area.
3. Repeat the same procedure on the cable ends of the battery as well.
4. Once the chemical reaction stops, the next step should be to clean the terminals immediately. Use the wire brush or stiff brush to eliminate the corrosion within the battery terminals. Continue to scrub off the corrosion around the cable end as well.
5. After you’re sure that the terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion, go ahead and rinse the cleaned areas using clean water.
6. After cleaning off the dirt, proceed to wipe dry the battery. You can use compressed air to dry the battery completely.
7. After your cell is fresh, smear a thin layer of the petroleum jelly on both the terminals and the cable end. Petroleum jelly is a good conductor of electricity. Besides, the jelly acts as an excellent coating to help prevent corrosion in the future.

Clean using professional-grade supplies. There are pieces of equipment designed specifically to perform the task of cleaning terminals. If you’re too much into professional work, you can acquire these items and get the job done like a pro.
You will need grease/protective spray, water, battery terminal brush, and a battery cleaner spray. Once you have all the equipment at hand, the cleaning procedure is quite simple.

1. First thing first, you need to spray the battery cleaner spray on the battery terminals and cable ends. The spray in this scenario acts as a neutralizing agent. It helps neutralize the corrosion in question and the acid around the affected areas.
Most of the battery cleaning sprays have some dye in them and which changes color if there is some acid present. For instance, the spray may turn from yellow to purple if there is acid present on the terminal areas.
2. Allow the cable ends and terminals to soak for some few minutes. Over time, you may see the spray’s color wash away.
3. Repeat the step on both the terminal and cable ends. Repeat the process again and again until you notice no change on the spray’s color. Failure to change in color means that the acid present in the terminal areas is completely neutralized.
4. Using clean water, rinse off the spray around the terminals and cable ends.
5. It’s time to deal with the stubborn corrosion, and this is where the battery brush comes in handy. Use the brush to clean the cable ends and the two terminals.
6. Once the terminals are cleaned thoroughly, wipe them dry.
7. Once dry, proceed to spray the battery’s terminals and cable end with a protector. You can as well smear some petroleum jelly to help prevent future corrosion.

5. Reconnect the Terminals

Either of the two cleaning tactics should help do away with all the nosy corrosion. Once you’re sure that the battery is clean, it’s time to reconnect the clamps and get the car started. When reconnecting, you start with the positive clamp followed by the negative one.

The procedure here is quite the opposite of what we did while disconnecting. After attaching the clamps, use a wrench to tighten the nuts. Continue to return the terminal cover on its position as it helps reduce the buildup of dirt around the area. Once you cover the terminals, you’re done with your cleaning task, and it’s time to lock the hood and start your car.

How to Prevent Corrosion in the Future

Doing away with the corrosion doesn’t assure you that the substance won’t resume in the future. You must, therefore, ensure that you take the necessary steps needed to prevent the corrosion from occurring in the future.

It’s at this point that I find many people asking, how do I prevent my battery’s terminal corrosion? Well, the answer is straightforward. You don’t need to be a God to make all that happen as there are simple maintenance procedures that you can regularly perform to ensure clean terminals.

First, you can start by making it a habit to clean your battery regularly. You can use either of the two procedures to clear off the buildup of corrosion. The processes may be overwhelming, but it’s a path worth taking as they can save you from the troubles of a battery failing because of a corroded terminal.

Also, you can go ahead and smear the terminals and cable end with petroleum jelly. The use of petroleum jelly on terminals helps prevent the buildup of substance around the battery terminals.

The fact that the jelly is readily available makes this option quite affordable for every driver out there. (I wrote this specific topic about what to put on battery terminals to prevent corrosion).

You can as well acquire anti-corrosion washers from your local auto dealer. These washers are explicitly designed to prevent corrosion from forming. Therefore, you can smear the washer around your battery terminals and avoid the surprises caused by the corrosion building up.

If you aren’t comfortable with the jelly and the washers, you can acquire dielectric grease from your auto dealer. Dielectric grease is also known for barring the buildup of corrosion around the terminals.


Doing away with the battery’s corrosion should be a task that every car owner out there should hack. However, that’s not always the case as many car owners are left wondering where to begin.

Worry less because, in the article, there is a step-by-step guide to help you clear the corrosion without the help of a profession. Read through the entire piece to understand how the cleaning process should be easy. Also, in the article, there are tips to help you prevent corrosion from returning.

1. Ten tips to remove battery corrosion –
2. Battery Corrosion – Causes and Cures – Westbay NAPA Auto Parts
3. How to Clean a Car Battery – Meineke