Old and rusty exhaust

How to Remove the Rust from Your Exhaust Pipe

02 June 2015, 16:03

All modern exhaust pipes have been designed to be rust resistant but this only slows down the inevitable. The best way to keep your exhaust pipe rust-free is to take preemptive measures to stop it from building up in the first place; but if you already have a rusty exhaust, here are a few tips to help you clean yourexhaust.

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There are several ways in which you can clean your exhaust yourself, and the good news is that most of them don’t need you to get hold of any specialist or expensive equipment. The results that you will achieve will depend entirely on how severely your exhaust pipe has been affected by rust.

Brillo Pads and Soap

If there is only a small amount of rust which has built up on your exhaust pipe, using a wet brillo pad and applying a small amount of pressure to the affected area should remove any light amounts of rust. If you can’t get hold of a brillo pad then a small piece of steel wool and a bucket of warm soapy water will do the same job. Beware that using this method could leave scratches on your exhaust, so if you are looking for a perfect final finish, this is probably not the best method to use.


If you are worried about scratching the exhaust exterior, taking a piece of old cloth and soaking it in vinegar could be a better way forward. The acid in the vinegar loosens the particles in the rust but is not strong enough to damage the metal of the pipe itself. White vinegar tends to give the best results.

Soak an old rag or a cheap dishcloth in the vinegar and wrap it around the rusted area of the exhaust. The longer you leave the cloth in place, the better the results will be. After you have let it rest for a while, take away the cloth and wipe down the pipe with water to clear away the loosened rust. You should see a dramatic difference.

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If you can’t get hold of white vinegar, Coca-Cola is the next best thing. It contains phosphoric acid which, just like the vinegar, can eat through the rust particles without damaging the exhaust pipe itself. You will get the best results by removing the whole exhaust and soaking it for several hours a day or two in a bucket of Coca-Cola. Once you have let it soak for a long time, wipe the exhaust down with a wet cloth.

Foil and vinegar

If the rust on your exhaust is persistent, and the cloth methods prove to be less than effective, this method can prove much better. Scrunch up a ball of aluminium foil and dip it in vinegar to scrub the rust from the exhaust.

All of these methods will only go so far in terms of cleaning the rust from your exhaust pipe. Once rust has begun to form on your exhaust, you are very unlikely to ever get it looking brand new again. If, after trying a number of the methods listed above, you are not satisfied with the results then you may only have one option open to you: a new exhaust. If it is the perfect aesthetic that you are looking for then replacing the entire exhaust pipe is probably the only way you will be able to achieve this. The methods listed above will help to achieve a significant improvement but if there is a considerable amount of rust which has built up then you will probably never be able to entirely remove it all.

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