How to Clean Exhaust Tips (With Pictures)

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If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think too much about your exhaust tips until they start to look dirty. And by then, a clean is well overdue. A build-up of gunk and grime can be difficult to remove without the proper supplies and know-how.

Not only does it make your car look bad, but dirty exhaust pipes can also speed up the deterioration of your exhaust system, and lead to corrosion.

Luckily, cleaning your exhaust tips is a relatively easy and inexpensive process that you can do at home with some basic supplies.

In this article, we will walk you through the process of how to clean exhaust tips, step-by-step. We’ve gone through the exhaust cleaning process with our BMW M5, and we’ll provide pictures along the way to help make it easier for you to follow along.

BMW M5 dirty exhaust tips
Our dirty exhaust tips prior to cleaning them

Before you start though, the most important thing is to ensure that your car hasn’t been used recently. Exhausts get extremely hot, and the last thing you want to do is burn yourself.

To begin, you will need:

  • Bucket
  • Car wash soap
  • Sponge
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Two microfiber towels
  • Metal cleaning product
  • Degreaser (optional)
  • Steel wool (optional)
  • A clean water supply

There’s not too much to this process, but it’s important to do it right in order to avoid damaging your exhaust tips. So let’s get started!

Step 1: Clean your exhaust tips with car wash soap and water

Start by mixing up a solution of car wash soap and water, as you do when you’re cleaning your car.

Once you have your solution, wet a clean sponge and use it to scrub the tips. Be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies, as this is where the majority of the dirt and grime build-up occurs.

The idea here is to get rid of the big stuff that is easily removed with soap and water.

Step 2: Rinse off your exhaust tips with clean water

After you’ve scrubbed the tips clean, rinse them off with clean water to remove any soapy residue.

By now, the larger pieces of dirt and grime should be gone. But there will still be some stubborn buildup left behind. Don’t worry, we’ll deal with that next!

You may also want to consider using a degreaser here before the next step, if your exhaust tips are particularly dirty. This will break down the grime ready to be cleaned.

Step 3: Wet a microfiber towel and add metal cleaner

To remove the tougher buildup and get your exhaust pipes shining, you’ll need to use a metal cleaner suitable for exhausts.

There are a variety of cleaners on the market, so feel free to choose whichever one you prefer. We used Autosol Liquid Chrome Cleaner.

Autosol Liquid Chrome Cleaner

Consider putting on some rubber gloves at this point to protect your hands from the chemicals in the cleaner.

Add a small amount of water to a microfiber towel so its damp, but not wet. Then, add your metal cleaner to the towel.

Step 4: Scrub the exhaust tips

Now it’s time to get rid of the stubborn grime! Rub the microfiber towel over the exhaust tips in a circular motion, ensuring that the entire surface is covered.

Cleaning exhaust tips

You will need to apply pressure firmly, but don’t go too crazy or you could end up damaging the tips.

It may be tricky to get into all the nooks and crannies, but do your best to get as much of the cleaner into them as possible. Rub inside the exhaust tips too, as this is where most of the dirt and grime accumulates.

You may need to reapply the metal cleaner a few times during this process.

Note: you could consider using a steel wool if your exhaust tips are particularly dirty, and you’re struggling to remove the grime with a microfiber towel.

If you do, ensure the steel wool is 0000 rated and suitable for use on exhaust tips to avoid damage, and never use anything abrasive if your exhaust tips are painted.

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

Once you’re happy with the results, use a dry microfiber towel to remove any excess cleaner. If you’ve accidentally got metal cleaner on your bodywork, be sure to clean that off with the towel.

Drying exhaust tips

If you’re not happy, you can always repeat step 4 again to get a deeper clean.

Step 6: Rinse off with clean water

Once you’re satisfied that the tips are clean, rinse them off with clean water to ensure any residue from the metal cleaner is removed.

You don’t want any of that stuff hanging around, as it could end up damaging your car.

Dry again as necessary, to avoid water spots.

Step 7: Admire your clean exhaust tips!

There you have it, your exhaust tips should now be shining like new! Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your car will thank you for it.

Clean exhaust pipes

Cleaning your exhaust tips is a relatively simple process, but it’s one that is often overlooked. If you’re a car fanatic it’s an essential job before taking your pride and joy out to the next car show.

And that’s it! Your exhaust tips should now be sparkling clean.

Cleaning your exhaust tips regularly will help to keep them looking their best and prevent long-term damage. And if you’re a car fanatic it’s essential before you display your car at the next car show!

We recommend doing it every few months, or as needed if you use your car frequently.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your exhaust tips stay clean and look great for years to come!

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Adam Chinn writes about the intersecting worlds of classic cars, driving pleasure, and smart investment strategies. Starting his journey at 26, he’s proven that one doesn’t need to be wealthy to begin investing in classic cars.

Adam’s insights have been recognized on platforms such as MoneyInc, Swagger Magazine, and Top Speed.

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