How to clean your car battery's terminals DIY-style

A lot of times a replacement isn't necessary
by Drei Laurel | Jun 29, 2019
PHOTO: Algin Magmanlac

Keeping what’s under the hood clean is just as vital, if not more so, as maintaining what’s outside. As such, you need to keep an eye out for dirty parts—what they look like, and more important, how to get them back to proper condition.

The car battery is an often overlooked component due to the fact it’s easily replaceable. Some symptoms don’t necessarily mean the battery as a whole is dead—sometimes it just needs a good scrubbing.

We are, of course, talking about cleaning your car battery’s terminals. Dirty or corroded battery terminals can lead to issues with its performance, such as problems starting the car or loss of power (the electrical kind, not the horses) due to lack of contact with your cables. As you’ll find out, sprucing these terminals up is a relatively simple task.

All you’ll need are a few materials. The first is a brush—a wire brush or a durable cleaning brush is preferred, though even an old toothbrush will suffice, depending on how corroded or how much gunk has accumulated up on your battery’s terminals.

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The next is some water, and finally, a bit of baking soda. These two ingredients are for your homemade quick-clean solution (we’ll get to this later). 

Other things you’ll need are a pair of gloves for safety, and a trusty rag to wipe away any solution from other components after you’re done with the cleaning. You can also use a small spray bottle to clear away and gunk or debris afterward.

But first, an important reminder: Make sure your car isn’t running and your battery is disconnected before continuing. For obvious reasons, you do not want to perform a cleaning process that involves liquids with running electricity. Also, if you notice signs of serious battery damage—such as a leak or bloating—forget about cleaning it and immediately opt for a replacement. Damaged and leaking batteries are extremely dangerous.

Now that those safety reminders are out of the way, let’s get started. Here’s what you need to do:

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1) Create your homemade quick-clean solution.

Mix a tablespoon or two of baking soda into a cup of water. 

2) Prep your brush.

Basically, just dip it into your quick-clean solution.

3) Start scrubbing.

Do so thoroughly. Depending on how dirty or corroded your battery’s terminals are, this might take some work. Make sure to clear all of the buildup.

4) Rinse the terminals.

Wash away dirt or corrosion with your spray bottle. If your terminals are clean, you’re good to go. Otherwise, get back to scrubbing.

5) Wipe away excess solution or dirt.

You don’t want all that dirt and buildup engine up in other parts of your car, do you? 

6) Reconnect your battery.

Voila! We told you this would be simple enough.

That’s it. Didn’t we tell you this would be easy? All of the materials required for this process are either cheap or easily available at home.

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All you really need to do is check on your battery every once in a while. We know this might seem like a chore—especially for a car part that’s easily replaceable—but you could save money from unnecessary expenses in the long run.

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PHOTO: Algin Magmanlac
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