How To Clean Stainless Steel Exhaust: 7 Steps You Must Follow

How To Clean Stainless Steel Exhaust

Stainless steel exhaust can get dirty due to combustion engine smoke. So, whether you have a car or bike, learning how to clean stainless steel exhaust is a must.

Many vehicle owners used the below-mentioned process and got shiny steel exhausts. However, you only need an hour to wash away all the debris from the engine.

Plan the cleaning process and take a few hours’ breaks for it. It makes the cleaning process a lot easier.

We have listed out all the steps in an easy to understand way. Check it out right now.

How to Clean Tarnished Stainless-Steel Exhaust – All Steps Explain It

Cleaning out the exhaust pipes is a lot easier than you may expect. The tutorial below only takes a cleaning product, and it doesn’t need any expensive tool at all. So, let’s get into the process of how to clean tarnished stainless-steel exhaust.

Step 1: Turn the Car Off

At the first step of the washing process, turn the car off at least hours before the cleaning. It would help to avoid burning hands due to higher heat. In addition, it would make the cleaning process a lot safer.

That’s why I schedule the washing task beforehand. Plus, park the car in a painful place and ensure the handbrake is enabled. Thus, the car would stay in place while you are busy in the cleaning process.

Step 2: Power Wash Outside Dirt

Right now, use any power washer tool to wash any excess dirt sitting on your steel exhaust. It makes the whole cleaning process easier and smoother. With proper power washing, even strong dirt and greases can go away without touching.

While doing power washing, make sure not to set the power speed too intensely. As a result, it would avoid damaging the exterior of any steel exhaust. With proper speed setting, the pressure washer would clean away outside dirt right on the spot.

Step 3: Get Sponge Brush & Polish

In the following step, get a sponge brush and intensive cleaner. Further, you could manage an ultra-thin fabric to polish the exterior later. As a last option, you need to have some brush that would work best for your vehicle.

Getting these cleaning products would be easy in any automotive store. You could use a popular cleaner and conditioner for the automobile. Make sure to try them out and check which one works best for you.

Step 4: Start Applying the Cleaning Item

Right now, you need to start applying the cleaning item to the outside of the steel exhaust. In the case of a spray, make sure to spray 3 to 4 pulses outside of the pipe. If you are using any cleaning cream, take them on a soft cloth and start applying them with proper usage.

On the other hand, you could use liquid cleaner and mix it with decent water. Afterward, take a sponge and start rubbing it around the tips carefully. Either way, the user needs to be mindful about not scratching the exterior too hard.

Step 5: Make Sure You Cover Every Corner

While cleaning out the steel surface, it’s easy to forget hard-to-reach spaces. To make cleaning last longer, go into the tricky places and apply cleaning products to them. We suggest rubbing every corner with proper care.

In cases when you feel awkward reaching far away parts, put a mat and lay down on the ground. Make sure to wear eye-protective gear and start cleaning the bottom part. Once you cover all of the surfaces, get out and prepare for the next step.

Step 6: Clean Up Inside the Exhaust

Afterward, you need to clean out the inside of the pipe. Have a sponge brush? Make sure to insert it a little bit and clean up the opening. With cleaning spray, angle the nozzle and keep on spraying. Avoid spraying the solution straight into the pipe.

Applying polishing cream to the interior is a good idea as well. But don’t spray, brush or apply cream deep into the interior of the pipe. Thus, cleaning out the opening part would do the work best. Finally, you could use WD40 to clean motorcycle exhaust interiors.

Step 7: Use A Polishing Kit

Clean it up with a wiper after applying and rubbing the dirt off the steel surface. Once you finish the cleaning, apply a polishing kit to the outside of the pipe. Again, it’s better to read the instructions of the polishing kit and apply it accordingly.

While polishing the pipe, pay attention to the edges and tips. Further, use the mercury metal polishing kit for better results. Don’t rush off and take time while applying the polishing solution.

Related: How To Clean Polishing Pads While Polishing?

How Often Should You Clean Steel Exhaust

You must clean your vehicle exhaust twice a year. It would help avoid the brown color build-up on the steel surface. In fact, the mentioned process would be enough to keep the pipe cleaner for a while. Thus, you could have casual cleaning after any longer trip as well.

Cleaning out the pipe would increase its longevity and shininess. Using a power washer once in a while would make it look decent. Moreover, six-month intervals would make sure the surface doesn’t get any strong dirt at all.

Which Metal Polish is to Use

Brands such as 3M, Adam’s, and Meguiar’s make great metal polishing solutions for exhaust pipes. Checking out polishing brands such as Never Dull to use would be the best option as well. Nonetheless, use several metal polishes and check out which one works best.

Use mercury metal polish to get finishing results that shine a lot. Once you find the best metal polish, keep using it to provide long-term benefits. Then, perhaps, getting consistent results on each wash on the steel exterior would be easier.


Below are the questions that may accrue while you prepare for the cleaning process. Let’s get into them right now.

Does vinegar damage steel exhaust?

Avoid leaving the vinegar for a long term on your exhaust pipe. Long-term exposure to vinegar might damage the surface leaving permanent spots on the surface. But you could use vinegar and quickly wash out the surface.

Will WD-40 be enough to clean stainless steel?

If you have a bike steel exhaust, the WD-40 spray would be one of the best to go for. It’s one of the most popular sprays, which would let you clean the inside of the pipe as well. Many users are using the following spray for a long time, and it works great.

Can I paint my vehicle exhaust?

To paint over the exhaust pipe, you need to apply an aesthetic primer. After applying the primer, select a durable paint that would stick to the surface. These are the ways to paint on the surface of the steel pipe. You must follow an entire painting process for it.


Getting into how to clean stainless steel exhausts would help you make sure the pipe looks great. Further, deep cleaning the pipes can be an effective step to avoid rusting the exterior of it.

But we would advise you to use quality cleaning products while cleaning out the chrome steel exterior.

Plus, make sure you plan the cleaning—safety steps include turning off the car hours before the cleaning is essential.

Moreover, before you start cleaning, check if the exhaust pipe has cooled down or not.

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