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This questions is to extent the following question Should I use coca cola or baking soda + water to clean my battery clamps?. I have heard of using both Coke and baking soda to clean battery clamps and I personally used both methods and each one worked great.

During discussion on this subject with my coworkers, somebody brought up the point that myth busters tried it on their shows and came up with the following conclusion.

"Test 7 - Cola can clean battery terminals: Adam and Jamie pit cola against baking soda and a toothbrush on two dirty car batteries. They find that cola and baking soda do just about the same job, but it's hard to tell if plain water doesn't do just as good of a job. Cola doesn't do anything spectacular." (source)

So is there any point of spending money to buy special cleaner or using coke or baking soda when it should be possible just to clean it with plain water? Has anyone tried of cleaning it with plain water and does it work the same? If it does should cold, warm or hot water should be used.

When I drove semi-trucks I remember seeing some sort of grease that was always put on battery terminals. Therefore to extend original question one step further: Should any lubricants be used after cleaning it to protect it?

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why use either?Two part wire cleaners that allow you to clean both batt. posts and leads are very cheap and available at any accessory store ? – mike Apr 7 '14 at 11:26
up vote 6 down vote accepted

So is there any point of spending money to buy special cleaner or using coke or baking soda when it should be possible just to clean it with plain water?

If you have to clean your battery terminals right now, you have to use the tools available to you. You're going to want to be mindful of these facts:

  1. The corrosion deposits can be obnoxious to remove. Baking soda and the acid in a soda both might help dissolve the deposits. If these deposits are not serious, water might be sufficient (although why are you cleaning the terminals if they're not covered with junk?). Regardless, a stiff brush is helpful to remove anything that doesn't easily dissolve.

  2. The battery is chock full of sulfuric acid (that's one of the reasons that corrosion deposits form). Are you certain that none of that acid is going to be in your work area? If so, you're possibly fine using plain water or acidic soda. If not, you're wiser to work with a base as a corrosion remover (e.g., baking soda).

In the end, it's going to be your call.

Should any lubricants be used after cleaning it to protect it?

This question refers to the common practice of adding grease to the terminals prior to tightening the clamps. The grease in question is acting as a displacer, not a lubricant. Specifically, you're trying to reduce the ability of the acidic gasses to reach the terminals. This isn't magic but it will slow corrosion.

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While having never used it before, I also understand very hot water works well for removing the corrosion. Either way, the only thing I'd add to this excellent writeup is to ensure you completely rinse the area with clean water (like from a garden hose). While your battery and terminals get cleaned off, it will leave residue all over the place which needs to be cleaned off as well. If you don't, this residue can cause corrosion where ever it's left on the vehicle. Just part of the complete cleanup. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 6 '14 at 19:27
@Paulster2, while I agree that very hot water might work pretty well, I hesitate to introduce lots of water under my hood. Pesky stuff, gets everywhere, spreads things that shouldn't be spread and puddles where it shouldn't. Given the chance, I'd try a stiff brush on its own before I used water alone. Anything that comes off can be cleaned up with a broom. That's my preference for my car, though: your mileage will vary. – Bob Cross Feb 6 '14 at 19:49
I would rather have clean water puddling under my hood vs. leftover Coke or baking soda mixtures ... would definitely increase your mileage :D – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 6 '14 at 20:07
I have drove and worked on trucks for the last 16 years and the baking soda is the cheapest safest way to dissolve the corrosion and then a good cleaning with a brass wire tooth brush and a little dielectric grease has given me the best results. – user6254 Jun 17 '14 at 17:46

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