Does Hydrogen Peroxide Clean Battery Corrosion?

During inspections, have you ever noticed a white, green, or blue tinge on your car’s battery terminals? This substance is known as battery corrosion debris which may build up on your car battery.

If this happens, you may notice that your car is having trouble starting as the corrosion interferes with the battery’s proper functioning.

Your car battery is the powerhouse of the vehicle, providing electricity. This is crucial to start and run your car, as well as drive the electrical components such as air conditioning, stereo, and power windows.

For a smooth battery function, it is vital to perform regular checks and service your engine parts.

According to the Journal of Energy Storage, the two main factors affecting lithium-ion car batteries are time and cyclic aging.

Therefore, you can prevent battery corrosion by monitoring expiration dates. Corrosion does not occur overnight. If you have had a car battery for more than seven years, it may be time to change as it gradually loses its charge power.

Continue reading and discover how you can clean battery corrosion with hydrogen peroxide and why it’s better than other options!

How Does Battery Corrosion Happen?

You can easily identify battery corrosion by observing your battery’s cables, posts, or terminals. At an earlier stage, it starts as white deposits, which are lead sulfate or anhydrous copper sulfate.

The latter can change into a blue color when there is exposure to moisture. If you come across a blue substance on a corroded battery terminal, it is most likely the copper connectors forming hydrated copper sulfate deposits.

The battery undergoes wear and tear as you use your car over time. This causes the sulfuric acid inside the battery to release hydrogen gas.

The gas vaporizes and reacts with the air to form a corrosive environment, which is catalyzed by the salts and moisture. Upon a chemical reaction with the metal terminals, a flaky discolored layer forms to sit on your battery terminals.

A corroded battery is a poor conductor of electricity. There is increased resistance within the circuit, and it can ultimately result in transient current flow. This is why your car does not start when there is corrosion.

When corrosion occurs on the negative battery terminal, it is a symptom of an undercharged battery.

On the other hand, if the positive battery terminal is corroded, it is most like due to battery overcharging. If left untreated, battery corrosion can be a base for various other issues, such as engine chassis damage and wrecking of the electrical wirings or air conditioner lines.

Why Should You Clean Battery Corrosion Dangerous?

Ideally, your goal should be to prevent corrosion rather than cleaning. This is key for longevity and proper battery maintenance. Otherwise, it can be dangerous as the corrosion can cause irritation or even burn your eyes and skin.

The primary ingredient in car batteries you should be cautious of is sulfuric acid. This acid is capable of producing explosive gases. Furthermore, the batteries are equipped with vent caps so they can release harmful gases.

#1 Damages Your Car

When battery terminals are corroded, there will be a noticeable decrease in battery performance and life. Battery corrosion disturbs the electrical current flow, reducing the power supply to the car. Moreover, the battery also fails to receive constant recharging from the alternator.

It is essential to keep regular checks on your car’s engine and battery. Make sure to go through proper servicing whenever your car needs to. If a corroded battery is not treated, it can lead to further damage to your vehicle chassis and other components, which can be pretty costly.

You do not want the unstable battery quality to affect the other electrical components. Therefore, if you come across a corroded battery, ensure to clean it as soon as you can.

#2 Irritates the Skin

As discussed earlier, car batteries are lead batteries containing sulfuric acid. If it comes into contact with the skin, it can cause severe chemical burns. In case that happens, it should be considered a medical emergency, and you should immediately consult a doctor.

According to a research published in 2006, concentrated sulfuric acid burns from battery corrosion should be treated early to prevent skin destruction. You should ensure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after managing the car battery

#3 Pollutes the Air

When the car battery is corroded, it gives off fumes from the sulfuric acid. These can trigger breathing problems, particularly in individuals with underlying respiratory issues. These symptoms include cough, bronchial irritation, trouble falling asleep, and reduced cognitive responses.

Did you know corroded batteries can release chemicals that pollute the environment? These chemicals soak into the ground and spread through the soil. It can eventually result in contaminated surface water as well as groundwater.

The harmful effects of battery chemicals can interfere with aquatic and land ecosystems. It even contaminates our tap drinking water with dangerous metals.

Using Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean Battery Corrosion

Sulfuric acid present in car batteries has a pH of 0.8-1, which is a very strong acid. On the other hand, hydrogen peroxide is a weak acid with a pH of 4.5-5. This makes hydrogen peroxide an excellent cleaning agent to overcome battery corrosion as the chemical can neutralize the battery acid.

#1 Hydrogen Peroxide to Clear Battery Corrosion Debris

Unlike commercial fancy cleansers, you do not need lots of equipment to clear battery corrosion debris when you have hydrogen peroxide on hand. Furthermore, you do not even need to vigorously rub, scrub, or brush away the corrosive remnants.

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild oxidizer that ultimately breaks down into oxygen and water. This leaves behind only pure metal, as the organic chemical can dissolve accumulated rust from metal surfaces.

It is a non-toxic mild oxidizer, so you do not need protective equipment like goggles, masks, and gloves. However, we still recommend you use safety gear as you are working with batteries.

What You Need

How to Use

Start off by ensuring that your vehicle is turned off. Carefully remove the car battery after putting on your safety gloves. Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water.

You can spray the solution onto the corrosion debris to neutralize it. In case there is a lot of debris, you can take the help of a scouring brush to scrub the battery terminals. After the debris is soaked, use a clean cloth to gently wipe away the remnants.

Use the microfiber cloth to tap dry the terminals, cables, and overall battery after you have cleaned and removed all the corrosion debris. You can reconnect the cables after ensuring that the battery is dry. However, be wary of not overtightening them at this point.

Precautions

When you are working with batteries and hydrogen peroxide, there are a few safety measures to take into account. Always ensure that you work with batteries in well-ventilated areas.

This is to prevent yourself from suffocating in case of gaseous leaks from the battery acids.

Another thing to be careful about is to keep metal tools or any objects at a distance from the battery top. This is to avoid short circuits, as metal is a great conductor. Also, please do not attempt to charge a damaged battery, as it may do more harm than good.

Keep your hydrogen peroxide solution in the dark bottle, away from sunlight. It should be placed in a cool, dry area away from the reach of pets and children.

#2 Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean Battery Corrosion Stains

Hydrogen peroxide can wipe away corrosive stains from your car battery, making it spanking clean. The organic chemical readily dissolves accumulated rust particles from metals and metallic surfaces. In some cases, it can even break up the entire tarnish to dissolve it completely.

The stains are caused by remnants of the strong acid, sulphuric acid, present in car batteries. You can use the weak acid, hydrogen peroxide, to neutralize and potentially remove the stain.

In case the 3% hydrogen peroxide does not help, you can dab a little cream of tartar or a non-gel toothpaste on the stain and simply rinse it away afterward.

What You Need

How to Use

Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water into a clean spray bottle. Please put on your safety gear and carefully remove the car battery from its spot when your vehicle is turned off. Spray the stains with hydrogen peroxide generously.

Let the solution sit and ‘bake’ for 5-10 minutes. Wipe off the solution with a clean cloth. Most of the corrosion stains should be gone now. In case of stubborn stains, rub a bit of cream of tartar or a non-gel toothpaste. Rinse off the mixture thoroughly.

Dab-dry the car battery with your microfiber cloth. If you wish, you can reconnect the battery cables after making sure that the battery is thoroughly dry.

Precautions

Since you are handling acids, it is recommended that you always have your safety gloves, goggles, and mask when you work. After you are done working, first wash your gloves thoroughly with water.

Next, wash your hands with plenty of soapy water. In case of any spillage or contact of battery acid with your skin, you should immediately neutralize it with baking soda.

After neutralizing your skin, wash the area with lukewarm running water for about 30 minutes. In case you still feel the irritation, seek medical attention immediately.

Always wear your safety goggles when working with acids. If it still gets in your eyes, wash it out and visit your nearest health practitioner quickly.

Why Is Hydrogen Peroxide Ideal for Cleaning Battery Corrosion?

Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent cleaning agent for battery corrosion as it is an organic chemical. It is non-toxic if used correctly at the right doses. The mild oxidizer is safe to use with no toxic by-products.

The chemical solution can overcome accumulated rust easily. It will leave the metal shiny and clean, removing any tarnishes. Once the process is complete, hydrogen peroxide decomposes into water and oxygen. Moreover, hydrogen peroxide can revamp the fuel cells in slightly old car batteries.

Hydrogen peroxide is also known as a catholyte. This means that it is both the electrolyte and the cathode. Therefore, it is the liquid that can conduct electricity and allows further reactions to occur.

It is a versatile chemical and is extremely budget-friendly as it serves as a multipurpose household agent. It has strong oxidizing features, which make it a powerful disinfectant to kill many harmful microorganisms through oxidation bursts and local oxygen production.

The Ideal Hydrogen Peroxide Concentration to Clean Battery Corrosion

Hydrogen peroxide is available in many concentrations. The most common is 3%, which is also the typical concentration for daily household cleaning work.

This 3% hydrogen peroxide is the ideal recommended concentration to use for cleaning battery corrosion. A slightly higher concentration of 6-10% is primarily used for bleaching, teeth whitening, and as a hair dye ingredient.

The next available hydrogen peroxide is 35%, known as a food-grade solution. Even though its name suggests otherwise, you should not ever try to consume it.

The highest concentration is 90% hydrogen peroxide. This is mainly for industrial purposes and not at all recommended for home use.

The Takeaway

Performing routine maintenance of your car regularly is important to prevent corrosion. You can always get this done when you are changing your car oil. This way there is a greater chance of you maintaining your car’s electrical system and keeping the terminals corrosion-free.

Use protective treatments on your car battery by spraying or brushing on treatments after disconnecting battery cables. Always ensure a proper charge of your car battery. Do not let it overcharge or undercharge, as these factors are the main culprit for corrosion.

But if your battery does corrode, you now know which trusty chemical can help you clean the mess!

So, order your set today!

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