How to Clean Car Battery Terminals With Baking Soda

Popping the hood of your car can be a real nightmare. So much so that many people just don't do it, and, as a result, they miss some basic problems that can be solved at home. One example is battery terminal corrosion. If you neglect to clean the battery terminals when they need it, the corrosion can cause problems starting your vehicle. You can easily clean your car battery terminals with baking soda.

Step 1

Pop the hood on your car and find the battery terminal. It is usually to your right as you stand in front of the car.

Step 2

Remove the terminal connector wires from the battery, using either a screwdriver or wrench (this depends on whether the wires are connected with screws or bolts). Remove the negative wire first followed by the positive.

Step 3

Pour 3 tablespoons of baking soda into a small bowl.

Step 4

Add 1 tablespoon of warm water to the baking soda and mix the two until you have a paste.

Step 5

Dip a toothbrush into the baking soda paste and scrub the battery connector wire heads. Be sure to clean the insides of the "O" ring, as this is where the connection to the battery will be most affected by corrosion.

Step 6

Scrub the battery connection pegs where the wires were clamped on before your removed them. Be sure that your paste isn't too thin. You don't want water dribbling all over your battery. You want a nice thick paste to stay in place once you apply it.

Step 7

Wipe off both the battery connection wire heads and the battery connection pegs with a clean, wet cloth or towel.

Step 8

Allow the battery connection wires and the connection pegs to dry for at least 15 or 20 minutes. Don't reconnect the wires while they are wet. This will result in future corrosion and will defeat the whole purpose of cleaning them.

Step 9

Slather a tiny bit of petroleum jelly onto the battery connection pegs. This will help slow down any future corrosion. Make sure everything is totally dry before you do this.

Reconnect the wire heads to the battery, install the positive wire to the battery first, then the negative. Wipe off any excess petroleum jelly that squirts through as you tighten the screws or bolts.


Try to clean the battery in the morning or before you drive the car anywhere so that the components under the hood don't heat up. It is very easy to burn yourself if you try to do anything under the hood after you've been driving anywhere.

Make sure your paste is thick enough to stay in place while you are applying it. Add more baking soda if you need to do so.


Make sure your battery isn't hot before you clean it. Sometimes old batteries and cables can heat up. This is another problem and it must be fixed.

Items you will need

    Baking soda
    1 toothbrush
    2 small towels
    Petroleum jelly
    Small bowl
    Screwdriver or wrench (depending on your battery terminal)