What is a Battery Terminal Cleaner?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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A battery terminal cleaner is a specially designed brush use to clean the terminals or connectors on a car battery. A battery is a unit that contains corrosive chemicals that are able to store and absorb energy. The unit contains energy after the electrons are charged using an existing power source. The battery terminals are the tops of the metal rods that run through the battery. Cables are connected to the terminals to carry the energy from the battery to the motor and back to the battery.

There are three different designs for a battery terminal cleaner: round, flat and combination. All models are designed for us after the cable clamp has been removed. To remove the clamp, undo the nut on each cable and then pull on the cable to lift it off.

It is important to remove the clamp from the negative terminal first. This ensures that a positive arc cannot be accidentally made with your wrench or tool. When adding the clamps back on, replace the positive terminal first, then the negative.

The round battery terminal cleaner is shaped to match the battery terminal. To use a round battery terminal cleaner, place it on top of the terminal and rotate it back and forth. The brushes built on the inside the plastic housing scrub the terminals.


Flat terminal cleaners are usually three to four inches (6.4 to 10.2 cm) in length. They have a plastic handle and a rough brush. The brush is used to scrub the different areas of the terminal. Combination models have a brush built inside the housing and a flat brush that cleans the other areas surrounding the terminal. The scrubbing material tends to be very rough and is similar in texture to steel wool.

The purpose of a battery terminal cleaner is to remove the dried battery acid that can develop on the terminals over time. Clean terminal provide a better contact and this improves the amount of charge that the battery is able to provide. Cleaning the battery terminals should be part of the routine maintenance of your vehicle.

When you are purchasing a used vehicle, take a look at the state of the battery terminals. This is a good indicator of the level of maintenance and care that was used by the owner. Clean terminals, together with a full battery charge indicate either a new battery or an owner who was taking care of the vehicle on a regular basis.


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