In this article, we discuss how to clean the inside of your motorcycle’s exhaust pipes.
First, we’ll figure out if you even need to clean the inside of your exhausts at all. Then, we will lay out some of the most effective cleaning methods . Remember that the inside of your motorcycle’s exhaust isn’t technically meant to be cleaned, so proceed with caution.
Another thing to remember is that no matter how well you clean the inside of an exhaust, it will inevitably get dirty again. That’s just how exhausts work!
There are quite a few reasons why cleaning the inside of an exhaust makes sense. Let’s go over some of the most common ones and how to address them.
Keep reading for tips on cleaning the inside of your motorcycle’s exhaust.
Why clean the inside of an exhaust
There are a couple of different reasons you may want to clean the inside of your motorcycle’s exhaust.
1. Excess carbon build-up
If your bike has a lot of miles on the odometer, the excess carbon build-up inside the exhaust may be robbing the motorcycle of performance. This is only a problem for some older models and shouldn’t concern the rider on a late model bike.
2. Dead animals inside the exhaust
Storing your bike could make it a hotspot (literally) for mice, rats, small birds, and insects. These pests like to snuggle up in enclosed spaces such as motorcycle exhausts for warmth. Come Spring, you might have to deal with a nest or some tenants that have passed away inside the exhaust.
3. Like us, you’re a neat freak
Just imagine: You get done painstakingly cleaning and detailing your bike. Every surface is polished and protected. All the road grime has been cleared away—time to show it off at the next bike meet. And then you see it: the dirty, grimy inside of the exhaust. It looks out of place on such a clean bike and attracts some weird looks.
If that sounds like your motorcycle’s exhaust, you need to clean it out on the double!
Methods for cleaning the inside of a motorcycle exhaust
Here are a couple of methods for cleaning out the inside of your exhaust.
1. Round brush
This method works quite well for dislodging larger dirt deposits inside the motorcycle’s exhaust. It will only really work as far as you can insert the brush, which is a couple of inches past the tip on most modern motorcycles.
Grab a round brush (a small toilet brush works well) and insert it into the pipe. Rotate the brush inside the pipe while slowly retracting it. This should dislodge any large deposits and clear them away.
You can also use a wire brush or similar implement to deal with contaminants that are really stuck on there.
2. Oven cleaner
If you notice some stubborn contaminants inside the exhaust, spray it down with oven cleaner. Leave the oven cleaner for a few minutes and clear it away with a round brush or a rag. We recommend doing this when the exhaust is slightly warm to allow the oven cleaner to work better. Be careful not to get burned! And if you do, here’s a quick guide on treating motorcycle exhaust burns.
3. Take apart the exhaust
Moving on to the hardest method, the nuclear option, if you will, we have a full exhaust removal. This method is for when you notice some blockage in the actual exhaust. It could be the aforementioned rodents, some large stones kicked up by the tires, or maybe someone has decided to play a practical joke on you.
Take off the muffler and inspect it closely. Shake it and listen for any rattling that shouldn’t be there. If you notice any funky smells or odors, it could be due to decaying pests. You may even have to separate the muffler altogether and clean it using oven cleaner or something similar.
Those are just a couple of ways to clean the inside of a motorcycle exhaust. Below, we address some FAQs and common misconceptions about cleaning the inside of a motorcycle exhaust.
Should I use water to clean the inside of my exhaust?
We would like to warn you against this. Water and exhausts don’t mix well, and the inside of an exhaust is meant never to be exposed to water at all. It is especially concerning if you get water so far down the pipe that it goes into the engine! Then you’ve got a real problem on your hands.
Is the carbon build-up inside the exhaust bad for my bike?
It depends. Generally speaking, there isn’t enough carbon build-up to adversely affect the engine or its performance. In fact, that carbon build-up is responsible for the unique sound of your motorcycle. For most bikes, you don’t get nearly enough carbon build-up for it to make a noticeable difference in performance or sound.
That said, some older bikes might have too many deposits inside the exhaust that need to be cleared away. But again, in most cases, it’s just the soot at the very tip of the exhaust that needs to be cleared away for aesthetic purposes.
Is cleaning the inside of an exhaust necessary?
Realistically speaking, no. Unless you have some large obstruction such as mud or dead animals inside the exhaust, you don’t actually need to clean deep inside the exhaust.
Do people think I am weird for wanting to clean the inside of a motorcycle exhaust?