How to Clean Exhaust Tips

How to Clean Exhaust Tips

Most people tend not to think too much about their exhaust tips until they are all dirty from driving.

But by then, all the built-up gunk and grime will be tough to remove without the right tools, experience and a good bit of elbow grease.

There’s nothing worse for your street cred than dirty custom exhaust systems, so this article will walk you through the cleaning process with hints and tips.

No matter how much effort you put into the maintenance and upkeep of your car, dirt and carbon build-up will eventually accumulate on your exhausts. Whether that dirt is from pollution or driving through a muddy puddle, you should try to keep your car clean whenever feasible.

A dirty exhaust can cause a lot more damage than embarrassment, as carbon deposits in your exhaust system can lead to corrosion and speed up the deterioration of your car’s inner workings. Fortunately, cleaning your exhaust tips is a relatively cheap and easy process that most people can do at home with basic supplies.

What Can I Use to Clean My Exhaust Tips?

Before you even think about gathering sponges, cleaning chemicals and your favourite rubber gloves, you must check that your car has not been used recently. Car exhaust pipes can get extremely hot as you drive (especially after long journeys), so make sure your exhausts are cool and safe to touch before starting work on cleaning your exhaust.

To clean your exhausts, we recommend:

  • A bucket
  • Car soap
  • A sponge
  • Rubber gloves
  • Microfibre towels
  • Metal cleaning product(s)
  • Degreaser
  • Steel wool
  • Clean water

For the best results, ensure that your cleaning tools (sponges, cloths, etc.) are clean and dry before starting, and set out a workstation near your exhausts to reach all your tools easily.

How to Clean Exhaust Tips- Step by Step Guide

Now that you have all the tools you need, it’s time to get to work. The process of cleaning your exhaust may not be that complicated, but it’s important you do it in the right order to avoid damaging your exhaust (and this goes double for custom exhaust systems), so let’s get started:

Step 1: Clean your exhaust tips with soap and water

Mix water and car wash soap in your bucket (as you would when cleaning your car normally), and use a clean sponge to scrub your exhaust tips. Make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies, as this is where most dirt and grime build-up occurs, and get rid of as much as you can before moving on to step 2.

Step 2: Rinse off your exhaust tips with clean water

After you’ve scrubbed off the first layer of dirt, rinse your exhaust with clean water to remove the soapy residue. You should have scrubbed off the larger bits of dirt, but the more stubborn bits of grime and residue will remain, so consider using a degreaser if your exhausts are especially dirty.

Step 3: Prepare a microfiber towel with water and metal cleaner

Make sure to don your rubber gloves now, as metal cleaning chemicals (even ones designed for more delicate custom exhaust systems) can be very harsh on human skin. Now, wet a microfibre with water, apply cleaning chemicals and prepare to scrub.

Step 4: Scrub the exhaust tips

Rub your microfibre cloth over the exhaust in a circular motion, focussing on any spots of dirt and grime and trying to get into all the nooks and crannies where dirt may have accumulated. You may need to reapply water and cleaning chemicals to your cloth, but remember to use even, firm pressure and scrub inside of your exhausts too.

Note: Consider using steel wool if your cloth isn’t cutting it, but ensure the wool is 0000 rated so you don’t damage your exhausts, especially if on painted custom exhaust systems.

Step 5: Clean off the chemicals with a dry microfiber towel

Once you’re happy with the results of your scrubbing, use a dry microfibre towel to wipe away the cleaning chemicals, taking care to avoid getting any on your bodywork. If you notice that you missed a spot when cleaning, go back to step 4 and scrub until the job is done.

Step 6: Rinse off with clean water

Now, you should get a fresh bucket of water and rinse off your exhaust tips to remove all the metal cleaner residue, as it can damage your car if left alone. Lastly, dry off your exhausts with a clean towel to prevent any water spots from accumulating and your exhaust tips should look as good as new!


If you follow these simple rules, it’s easy to clean your exhaust tips, whether you have factory standard parts or custom exhaust systems. Regular cleaning will help you maintain your car and prevent rusting or corrosion from carbon buildup and dirt as well as make your car look nice, so we recommend investing a little time and money into cleaning your car regularly.