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How to Clean a Car Battery

Parts and components that reside under your hood naturally get dirty. However, your car battery is more susceptible to gathering up grime because it typically leaks corrosive materials over time. All those chemicals and moisture can create rust, which could eventually damage your battery. It's important you clean your battery regularly. Follow these steps to clean a car battery on your own.

What you'll need:

  • Latex gloves. Keep them on while cleaning so you're protected from discharged battery acid.
  • Safety googles. Wear these to keep corrosive material away from your eyes.
  • Adjustable wrench. This disconnects and reconnects each cable from its respective post.
  • Baking soda solution. Use a about a tablespoon of baking soda mixed with water to remove corrosion.
  • Wire brush. Use a wire or firm bristle brush to scrub corrosive acid off the battery posts.
  • Water. Use water when scrubbing and rinsing the battery.
  • Towel. Dry the car battery off with a towel once you're finished cleaning.
  • Petroleum jelly. Apply this to the posts and clamps to reduce rapid corrosion.

Step 1: Turn off the engine.

Before you start cleaning, turn the car off. It's important you don't have a live battery while cleaning. Remember to also activate the parking brake to keep the vehicle from moving during the project.

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Step 2: Check battery for damage.

Make sure your battery doesn't have cracks or any further damage from corrosive acid or natural rusting. If the corrosion seems to have caused extensive harm, consider installing a new car battery instead.

Learn more about installing a new car battery

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Step 3: Disconnect the cables.

Since most vehicles have a negative ground, loosen the clamp nut on the black, negative terminal first with the adjustable wrench. Once the nut is unfastened, remove the cable from the negative post. Follow the same step when removing the red, positive cable from its post.

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Step 4: Apply baking soda solution on the terminals.

Put the baking soda solution directly on the posts or any other spots where the battery is covered with acid or discharged chemicals.

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Step 5: Dip the brush in water and scrub.

Once your brush is wet, start scrubbing the baking soda into the terminals and on the rest of the car battery. You should notice the corrosive materials starting to come off soon.

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Step 6: Rinse the battery and dry it off.

Use water to rinse off the corrosion and baking soda from the car battery. Use your towel to dry the battery and its terminals.

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Step 7: Add petroleum jelly to the posts.

Apply petroleum jelly to any exposed metal on the posts, clamps and cables. Smearing petroleum jelly onto the posts not only helps lubricate them, but it also reduces rapid corrosion on each post.

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Step 8: Reconnect the cables.

Attach the positive cable first and fasten the nut on the clamp with the adjustable wrench. Repeat this same step next with the negative cable on its post.

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