How to Clean Chrome Exhaust

Updated April 17, 2017

Chrome exhausts are a popular and stylish option for many cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles. New chrome pipes shine and are a great addition to the look of any vehicle. Over time, however, chrome exhausts may lose their lustre due to the natural accumulation of dirt, dust, rust and other road grime. Fortunately, you can restore chrome exhausts to their original appearance using soap and water, vinegar, chrome polish and a lot of elbow grease.

Clean your chrome exhaust using soap and water. It's important to remove all the dirt and dust before you attempt to tackle the more difficult build-up on the exhaust. You can use a rag, towels or a soft brush at this initial stage of cleaning.

Dry the pipes with a clean towel and wipe away all the build-up you can.

Wash the pipes again, this time using vinegar as the cleaner. Vinegar will remove additional dirt that the soap wasn't able to take off. After you've cleaned the exhaust with vinegar, wipe the pipes down with another soft, clean cloth.

Remove rust and any other difficult build-ups from the exhaust using the finest steel wool available. Dip the steel wool into vinegar and begin to polish the rust away using extremely light pressure. Be careful not to press too hard, because it's very easy to scratch or damage the chrome at this stage of cleaning. When you've removed the last of the rust spots, thoroughly dry the exhaust using a soft, clean cloth.

Apply a chrome polish to your exhaust and then buff it with a clean cloth until the chrome shines.


Make sure you're using the appropriate polish for your chrome exhaust. There are a number of products designed especially for chrome but some regular polishes are also safe. A regular metal polish should specifically indicate that it's safe for use on chrome, or it may be too harsh and result in damage to the finish of your exhaust.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft rags
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Fine steel wool
  • Chrome polish
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About the Author

Hallie Hammack has been a writer and multimedia reporter since 2005. Her work has appeared in publications for the National Guard and the Olympic News Service, among others. Hammack holds a Bachelor of Journalism in media convergence from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri.