This is our guide on how to clean chrome motorcycle exhausts.
If you ask us, chrome is one of the most important design features of most motorcycles. This is especially true for cruiser-style motorcycles like Harley-Davidsons. In fact, the chrome bits on a bike can make or break the entire look of your bike!
Despite how common it is on motorcycles, many people aren’t sure how to clean chrome properly. Unlike other parts and fairings on motorcycles, chrome requires a very specific cleaning method.
Below, we outline the best way to clean chrome motorcycle exhausts. We also go over some important factors you should consider before cleaning the bike.
So, without any further ado, let’s get started.
Signs Your Chrome Motorcycle Exhaust Needs Cleaning
Before you break out the cleaning supplies and chrome polishes, it is a good idea to ensure whether or not you even need to clean the exhaust. If you clean chrome exhausts too much, you could damage the sensitive surface coating that gives them their shiny finish.
Here are some common signs that it is time to clean your chrome exhaust.
Large deposits of dirt and grime
If you notice large amounts of dirt, road debris, or mud caking up the chrome exhaust, it is time for a thorough wash and clean. Thin layers of dust don’t warrant a complete clean. You can just wipe it off with a clean microfiber cloth or, better yet, use compressed air to blow it off.
However, if you notice thicker mud deposits on the exhaust, it is best to clean it ASAP! If it is left unattended for long, the chrome could start rusting.
This is a problem for older motorcycles more so than for new ones. Chrome tends to become dull or lose its sheen after a while. If that sounds like your bike, clean the exhaust and polish it. This should help revive the finish and have it looking pristine once again.
Excessive discoloration of the exhaust
If you aren’t the biggest fan of ‘blue-ing’ on your chrome exhaust, we can help. Removing the blue effect is harder than just cleaning the exhaust, but you can check out some of our top tips here.
If you see any rusting on your chrome motorcycle exhaust, don’t worry. There are a couple of ways to get rid of rust on an exhaust. It will depend on how severe the rust is, but you should be able to get it done in most cases.
Chrome can get scratched over time, and if you notice micro-scratches on your exhaust, don’t worry. They can be removed by cleaning the exhaust.
Methods For Cleaning A Chrome Motorcycle Exhaust
So now that you’ve decided your chrome motorcycle exhaust needs to be cleaned, here are a couple of different methods you can use.
It goes without saying, but all of these methods should be prefaced with a thorough washing of the chrome. You can find our tips on cleaning a motorcycle exhaust here. Once that’s done, you can get started on cleaning the chrome.
Alfoil and steel wool
This is one of the easiest methods of cleaning a chrome exhaust. All you need is some aluminum foil and water. Yep, that’s it!
Start by tearing off a large piece of aluminum foil. Crumple it up into a ball and put it under some water until it is completely wet. How much foil you use is entirely up to you. Just go with what feels natural.
Next, take the foil and start rubbing the chrome exhaust. Use back and forth motions to rub the entire chrome surface. Circular motions aren’t recommended. And don’t apply too much pressure either. Light to medium pressure should do the trick.
Repeat the process as needed. You’re almost done once you start feeling the chrome surface becoming smooth. Wipe away any excess water with a clean microfiber, and voila! Your exhaust is clean.
We should also mention that some people use steel wool to clean their chrome exhausts. We would caution against this because, depending on the type of chrome and steel wool, you could do more harm than good.
Another home remedy for cleaning chrome motorcycle exhausts is oven cleaner. Oven cleaner has powerful metal cleaning properties, working pretty well on chrome exhausts. Unlike other methods, this one requires your chrome exhaust to be on the hot side. Running the engine for a few minutes should do the trick, though we prefer to use cleaning the exhaust as an excuse to go for a quick ride!
Now that the exhaust is nice and warm, spray a generous amount of oven cleaner on the exhaust and leave it for 5 minutes or so. Wipe it away with a clean rag, and that’s pretty much it.
This method works well if a lot of dirt or grime has accumulated on the exhaust. It also agitates the contaminants that have been embedded on the surface.
Chrome Exhaust Polish
Last but certainly not least, you can use a polish made specifically for chrome. This is probably the most effective method of cleaning your chrome exhaust, and there are tons of different chrome polishes available.
We recommend the Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish and Protectant. It is an all-purpose metal polish, so feel free to use it for stainless steel, chrome, and even aluminum parts.
We also like the fact that it can be used on rust. Efficacy varies depending on the severity of the rust, but for small patches, it works pretty well. And the best part is that it has protective properties, reducing the chances of rusting over time.
So there, you have a couple of different ways to clean your motorcycle’s chrome exhaust. If you know a method that works even better, we’d love to hear it! Write to us, and we might even feature it!