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How to Clean Car Battery Terminals

If your car battery is corroded, not enough electricity can be passed to the terminals and through the cables to power your car's electrical system for optimum performance. You can clean away corrosion with a few simple steps.


  • Step 1: Rinse and scrub the terminals Rinse the battery terminals with a solution of one heaping tablespoon baking soda to 1 pint water, and then thoroughly scrub the terminals and around the base of the posts with an old toothbrush.
  • Step 2: Dry the battery Dry the battery and terminals with a clean towel, making sure to wipe away residue and corrosion around the terminals.
  • Step 3: Remove battery terminals Loosen the nut on each cable clamp and remove the terminals from the posts by twisting and pulling them off.
  • TIP: Remove the terminal from the negative post, marked with a minus sign, first. Then remove the terminal from the positive post, marked with a plus sign.
  • Step 4: Inspect the cables and clamps Inspect the cables for excessive wear and corrosion, and inspect the battery and terminals for damage. If there is excessive damage, replace the parts or the battery to avoid future problems.
  • Step 5: Clean the terminals Insert the end of the battery brush into the terminals and rotate it back and forth until the inside of each terminal is uniformly shiny and all of the grease, dirt, and corrosion is scrubbed away.
  • TIP: Since battery brushes are conical and terminals are different sizes, you may have to flip the terminal over to effectively clean the other side.
  • Step 6: Clean the posts Push the open end of the battery brush over each post and rotate it back and forth for about a minute, or until the posts are uniformly shiny and all of the grease, dirt, and corrosion is brushed away.
  • Step 7: Clean the battery Pour more of the baking soda and water solution over the top of the battery, wipe it down with a clean rag, and then dry it off with the towel. Then reattach the terminals to the posts, starting with the positive cable.
  • Step 8: Perform regular maintenance Perform regular battery maintenance, checking for corrosion several times a year, to ensure your electrical system stays in good working order and you don't get stranded.
  • FACT: A car battery contains 18 pounds of lead and one pound of sulfuric acid.

You Will Need

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Toothbrush
  • Towels and rags
  • Wrench
  • Battery brush

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