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How To Clean Corroded Battery Terminals: Step-by-Step Guide

Discussion Topic: How To Clean Corroded Battery Terminals

Have you found yourself needing to jump-start your car and taking a peek under the hood? What you encountered might have been quite the eye-opener! Indeed, the sight of corrosion on a car battery goes beyond mere aesthetics. This unwanted buildup can significantly impact your battery’s performance, present challenges during engine startup, and even trigger dashboard warning lights. If you’re navigating through electrical problems while driving around Springfield City, our service center is here to guide you through the process of cleaning battery corrosion effectively.

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What leads to battery corrosion?

Car battery corrosion is a common issue with several underlying causes. The release of hydrogen gas during normal battery operation is one contributing factor, but other significant reasons include:

  • Lifespan: Typically, car batteries last between three to five years. As they approach or surpass their expected lifespan, their vulnerability to corrosion increases.
  • Temperature: Batteries that overcharge or are exposed to elevated temperatures are prone to overheating, which enhances the likelihood of corrosion. This is particularly true during the hotter months, making summer a peak time for corrosion concerns.
  • Acid Leakage: Damages such as cracks in the battery can lead to acid leaking from its casing. This leakage is a direct route to corrosion, especially around the battery terminals.

How to Clean Battery Corrosion Out of Your Devices

How To Clean Corroded Battery Terminals

Cleaning battery corrosion involves two crucial steps – neutralization and the removal of oxidation.

Dehner explains, “Neutralizing shifts an acidic or alkaline substance to a neutral phase, halting further corrosion.”

This initial step is vital as it prevents the corrosion from obstructing the electrical connection between the battery and device.

Over time, failure to address corrosion can lead to the complete deterioration of battery contacts, rendering the device inoperable.

Essentials for Cleaning:

  • Either white vinegar or lemon juice
  • A cotton swab
  • A toothbrush
  • A file or fine-grit sandpaper

Step-by-Step Guide:

Before starting, ensure you’re wearing eye protection such as safety goggles to shield against any particles, along with cloth or rubber gloves and a long-sleeve shirt for skin protection.


1)Carefully take out the battery from the device.

2)Apply a small quantity of white vinegar or lemon juice on a cotton swab to neutralize the acid.

Dehner advises, “A light application suffices – wait for the corrosion to bubble and break down. Use an old toothbrush soaked in your choice of liquid for larger areas of buildup.”

3)Once neutralized, clear away the oxidation in the battery compartment using a file, sandpaper, or an emery board.

4)To prevent future corrosion and ensure good electrical contact, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the cleaned contacts before inserting new batteries, as recommended by Dehner.

Following these guidelines will help maintain your device’s functionality and longevity by effectively managing battery corrosion.

When is it appropriate to contact a professional?

For devices around the house that need standard-sized batteries (think of your AA battery-powered remote control), it’s generally safe for you to handle cleaning duties. However, if you’re dealing with gadgets that require specialized batteries or are used for healthcare purposes, it’s wise to involve a professional, advises Dehner. To keep battery corrosion at bay, it’s a good practice to take out the batteries from gadgets you don’t use often before you put them away for storage.

How should corroded batteries be disposed of?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans purchase around three billion batteries annually to power devices ranging from simple watches to essential household equipment. These batteries contain a mix of heavy metals and chemical electrolytes essential for their operation.

Jeremy Walters, a sustainability expert at Republic Services, emphasizes the importance of recognizing that batteries vary widely in their composition. Therefore, the approach to disposing of different types of batteries should also differ to ensure environmental safety.

Methods to prevent battery corrosion

Leaking batteries might seem inevitable, but there are steps you can take to minimize the risk. Start by avoiding the use of batteries that have passed their expiration date.

Additionally, it’s important not to combine old and new batteries in the same device. If you find yourself needing to replace a battery, it’s advisable to replace all the batteries in the device simultaneously.

Keep your electronic devices stored in areas with a moderate temperature and away from excessive heat or direct sunlight.

How-To-Clean-Corroded-Battery-Terminals 2

About Battery Corrosion

Battery corrosion occurs from the accumulation of acidic deposits that result from the interaction between metal and the sulfuric acid electrolyte within the battery. During the battery’s operation, sulfuric acid discharges hydrogen gas, which then blends with surrounding air. The ensuing chemical reaction from the collision of hydrogen gas with air, moisture, and salt leads to corrosion.

Typically manifesting as a powdery, white-greenish, blue, or teal substance, corrosion can be found on the terminals or near the battery clamps. This damaging material can also affect other battery components such as the posts, connectors, and cables.

>>> Related: How to fix a dead car battery?

Timothy Ballard

I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.

1 thought on “How To Clean Corroded Battery Terminals: Step-by-Step Guide”

  1. To effectively clean battery contacts in electronics, including toys, it is highly recommended to use WD40. Avoid the use of water as it may cause short circuits, rendering the toy inoperable.

    In the event that WD40 is not available, an alternative option is turpentine. Simply dampen a dry cloth with turpentine and gently clean the battery terminals.

    Kerosene can also be utilized to achieve the desired results.

    By following these approaches, you can ensure efficient and safe cleaning of battery contacts, prolonging the lifespan of your electronic devices.


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