How to Clean Battery Terminals with Stuff You Already Have

  • Jan 7,2018
How to Clean Battery Terminals with Stuff You Already Have How to Clean Battery Terminals with Stuff You Already Have

You wash, wax, and vacuum your car to keep it looking sharp. But have you ever considered cleaning things under the hood? By cleaning your battery terminals, you can actually help the car battery perform stronger, longer! We’ll show you how to clean the terminals and help prevent car battery corrosion in only FIVE steps – with materials you probably already have at home!


  • Protective gloves, like dish gloves
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Old toothbrush
  • Rag
  • Petroleum jelly

Step 1: Mix up your homemade battery cleaner.

The recipe is simple. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda into one cup of water, and stir it together until it's thoroughly mixed.

Step 2: Undo the cables from the battery and inspect it.

Make sure your engine is off. Pop open your hood and remove the negative battery cable first. Then the positive cable attached to your battery. Some batteries may be in the trunk or under a seat. (Turn to your owner's manual for more information.) Then, assess your battery. Buildup, battery corrosion, and grime on the terminals can greatly impact your engine and battery performance. If you notice that the battery case is leaking, swollen, or bloated, skip the cleaning and head straight to your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care for a new battery. Yours is on its way out!

Step 3: Dip a toothbrush in your cleaner and start scrubbing!

Grab an old toothbrush, dip it in your baking soda cleaner, and start scrubbing the terminals. This will take a little bit of elbow grease and you’ll need to continuously clean off the toothbrush as you work. Clean the terminals thoroughly, until all of the buildup has been removed. Do not put the toothbrush back in the bathroom!

Step 4: Rinse off the residue with water and dry.

After you’ve removed all of the corrosion and dirt from the terminals, give the battery a quick rinse. Fill up a spray bottle with a bit of water and spray down the terminals. If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can also wipe everything down with a damp rag. Then, use another rag to dry the terminals completely.

Step 5: Rub petroleum jelly onto the terminals and reattach the cables.

Once the terminals are dry, dab a bit of petroleum jelly onto them. This will lubricate them, help prevent further corrosion, and help strengthen the connection. Reattach the positive and negative cables, and you’re all set! Be careful, too much petroleum jelly can cause a poor connection. 

Keeping your car battery clean can help get things moving when your car won't start and battery flow is weak. Staying on top of your battery’s charge is crucial to avoid getting stranded. Stop by your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care for a battery test at your convenience! Our technicians will let you know just how much “life” is left in your battery, so you can hit the road with peace of mind – and a new battery, if necessary!

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