How To Clean A Cylinder Head

Cylinder heads are important components of any engine. They are responsible for housing the valves, spark plugs, and fuel injectors. Over time, cylinder heads can become dirty and clogged which can lead to engine issues. In this article, we will discuss how to clean a cylinder head to keep your engine running smoothly.

What You Will Need

Before we begin, let’s gather the necessary tools and materials. You will need the following:

  • Cylinder head gasket kit
  • Protective gloves and eyewear
  • Engine degreaser
  • Wire brush
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Shop towels
  • Plastic scraper
  • Air compressor
  • Bucket

Step 1: Remove the Cylinder Head

Before you can clean the cylinder head, you must first remove it from the engine. Refer to your vehicle’s manual for specific instructions on how to do this. Once the head is removed, place it on a clean work surface.

Step 2: Inspect the Cylinder Head

Inspect the cylinder head for any signs of damage or wear. Look for cracks, warping, or corrosion. If you notice any issues, it may be best to replace the cylinder head entirely.

Step 3: Remove Excess Debris

Use a plastic scraper to remove any excess debris from the cylinder head. Be gentle to avoid damaging the head.

Step 4: Apply Engine Degreaser

Apply engine degreaser to the cylinder head. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the degreaser into the head.

Step 5: Scrub the Cylinder Head

Use a wire brush to scrub the cylinder head. The wire brush will help remove any remaining debris and grime. Be sure to scrub all surfaces of the head, including the valves and spark plug holes.

Step 6: Rinse the Cylinder Head

Rinse the cylinder head with water using a bucket or hose. Be sure to remove all traces of the degreaser and debris.

Step 7: Dry the Cylinder Head

Dry the cylinder head completely using shop towels. Be sure to remove all moisture to prevent rust from forming.

Step 8: Inspect the Valves

Inspect the valves for any signs of wear or damage. Check for any debris or carbon buildup. Use a soft-bristled brush to clean the valves.

Step 9: Clean the Spark Plug Holes

Use a soft-bristled brush to clean the spark plug holes. Be sure to remove any debris or carbon buildup.

Step 10: Inspect the Head Gasket

Inspect the head gasket for any signs of damage or wear. If the gasket is damaged, replace it with a new one from the cylinder head gasket kit.

Step 11: Reinstall the Cylinder Head

Reinstall the cylinder head back onto the engine. Be sure to follow the instructions in your vehicle’s manual. Use a torque wrench to tighten the head bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Step 12: Reconnect the Components

Reconnect all components that were removed during the cylinder head removal process. This includes the fuel injectors, spark plugs, and valve covers.


Q: How often should I clean my cylinder head?

A: It is recommended to clean your cylinder head every 30,000 miles or as needed.

Q: Can I clean my cylinder head without removing it?

A: While it is possible to clean the cylinder head without removing it, it is not recommended. Removing the head allows for a more thorough cleaning and inspection.

Q: Can I reuse my old head gasket?

A: No, it is not recommended to reuse an old head gasket. Always replace the gasket with a new one from the cylinder head gasket kit.


Cleaning a cylinder head is an important step in engine maintenance. It helps to ensure proper engine performance and can prevent future issues. With the right tools and materials, cleaning a cylinder head can be done easily and effectively. Remember to always refer to your vehicle’s manual for specific instructions and follow safety precautions when working on your engine.