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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
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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
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    @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
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    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
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    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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Baking soda liberally sprinkled on the corrosion and a bit of water will clear it up. Use an old tooth brush to scrub away the "gunk" that forms. when dry rub some petroleum jelly over it to retard future corrosion. Caution: battery acid is bad stuff, wear eye protection and old clothes. Also if you do it on your drive way you will have a nasty "rusty" looking stain that is difficult to clean. Make sure you do it over grass / dirt or put something underneath to catch the water runoff.

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The corrosion found on battery terminals is actually dried battery acid that collects from the venting process of the battery. Cleaning sprays with an acid neutralizer is best but in a pinch one part baking soda to three parts water will work. NEVER use soda. Soda just turns the dry acid to a liquid and does nothing to neutralize the acid. At that point, you're just spreading the acid around and if it runs on to paint or bare metal it's just going to eat it away.

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  • Welcome to mechanics.SE! Baking soda is a base, so it should at least partially neutralize the acid from the battery terminals - do you have a reference for what you said? – anonymous2 Apr 20 '17 at 19:31
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Clean the corrosion with a wire brush and wipe off the residue and just put dielectric grease on it. That’s sufficient.

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  • This adds nothing to the existing answers. – Chenmunka Jan 26 '18 at 14:05
  • Then close the topic because as an electrician there’s not much else that should be said about it – Dirty Jan 26 '18 at 14:12

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