Corroded Car Battery? Here’s How to Clean It

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Your car has been acting funny lately. While it still starts, it tends to take a little more time than it once did. 

You open the hood and notice your car battery is covered in a strange residue. Panic strikes immediately! 

While your panic is understandable, we’re here to tell you that there’s nothing to worry about. From time to time, car batteries become corroded.

Fortunately, it’s easy to clean a corroded car battery, returning it to its prime state and saving money over the long-run. 

Wondering how to get the corrosion off of your battery? This article is here to help.

Materials Needed to Clean Corrosion on Car Battery

When cleaning a car battery, you can utilize one of two different methods. One method is to utilize household items. The other method is to use professional-grade products, which are specifically manufactured to clean battery corrosion. 

Below, we’re going to review the material needs for both. 

Household Product Method

When cleaning with household products, you will need baking soda, water, petroleum jelly, a toothbrush, a wrench compatible with your battery, and a clean rag.

With the exception of petroleum jelly, most homes are already stocked with these items. 

Professional-grade Product Method 

The professional-grade method requires similar tools to the household product method, including a compatible wrench, a clean rag, and water.

However, instead of the other items mentioned in the previous method, it also calls for a wire brush, terminal protector, and a specially-designed battery terminal cleaner. 

How to Clean a Corroded Battery

When cleaning a corroded battery, you must ensure that you’re doing things by the book. Failure to do so could result not only in an impaired battery, but physical injury as well.

Though car batteries generally don’t cause electrocution, complications can occur. 

Now, what does “by the book” mean? In most cases, it means the following. 

Disconnect the Battery 

Before you can clean your car battery, you have to disconnect it. Doing so eliminates all risk of electrocution. 

First, use your wrench to disconnect the negative terminal of your battery. This terminal should be marked by a “-” and is likely covered in a black coating.

Once the negative terminal has been disconnected, you can disconnect the positive terminal. This terminal should be marked with a “+” and is likely covered in a red coating.

After both terminals have been disconnected, take the wires from the battery and position them so that they can’t fall back onto their corresponding terminals. If you need to, tie them back. 

Assess the Battery 

Next, you’ll want to assess your battery, inspecting it for leaks. If leaks exist, cleaning off the corrosion will do little good. Instead, a full battery replacement will probably be needed. 

Apply Cleaner and/or Baking Soda

Once you’ve assessed your battery, you can begin the cleaning. This is done with either baking soda (household product method) or terminal cleaner (professional-grade product method). 

If you’re using baking soda, sprinkle it onto the terminals until they’re fully covered. The baking soda should consume the corroded portions of the battery. 

If you’re using professional-grade cleaner, you can spray it onto the terminals.

Again, ensure that you cover every piece of visible corrosion. 

Scrub Off the Cleaner and Residue

Next, you’ll have to scrub off the corrosive residue. If you’re using household products, you’ll need to reach for your toothbrush as well as a cup of water. If you’re using the professional method, you’ll need to reach for your wire brush. 

If scrubbing with your toothbrush, you’ll have to apply a bit of water beforehand. This water will activate the baking soda, allowing it to eat away at the corrosive residue. Then, the toothbrush can be used to gently wipe it away. 

If you used a professional-grade cleaning agent, you won’t have to worry about applying water. Just take your hard wire brush and scrub until the corrosion has been removed. 

Rinse the Battery With Water 

After you’ve given the corrosion a good scrub, you should rinse your battery with water. This water will work to wash away any loose residue that still remains. 

To help remove even more residue, you should also dry the battery off with a clean cloth. Make sure that your battery is entirely dry before moving onto the next step!

Apply Petroleum Jelly or Terminal Protector 

Once your battery is dry, you’ll need to apply either petroleum jelly or a terminal protector. These two substances serve two purposes.

They optimize conductivity in the battery and they protect the terminals from future corrosion. 

When applying these substances, make sure that they’re covering the entirety of the battery terminals. If they’re not, you will likely experience corrosion damage in the future. 

Reattach the Battery

After you’ve applied the petroleum jelly or terminal protector, your battery will be good to go.

Now all that’s left to do is to reattach it to the electrical wires in your vehicle. To do this, just do the exact opposite of what you did in the first step. 

First, place the electrical wire on the positive terminal of the battery. Once this terminal has been connected, place the other electrical wire on the negative terminal of the battery.

And there you go: you have completed the corrosion cleaning process! 

Time to Say Goodbye to Your Corroded Car Battery?

Unfortunately, cleaning a corroded car battery isn’t always fruitful. In some cases, when a battery is corroded, it’s better to just replace it with a new model. 

Is your battery still falling short despite the fact that you’ve cleaned it? Are you in need of a new battery?

RB Battery has you covered. Browse our automotive batteries now!  

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