How to Clean Headlights: Easy Headlights Cleaning Hacks

How to Clean Headlights: Easy Headlights Cleaning Hacks

Headlights can mean life and death while driving at night. It helps you see the road and let’s oncoming drivers know where you are. That’s why it’s essential to ensure they are clean and work correctly. Headlights are essential not just for late-night drives, but rainy days and misty afternoons as well. Over time though, your headlights are doomed to yellow or fog up themselves. Though there are numerous market pastes, solvents and “exclusive polishes” designed to clear up dull beams, you can also use household items to restore your headlights to showroom condition. Read on to discover a few simple means of combating oxidization without breaking the bank.

Many people think that if their headlights become cloudy, yellowish, foggy and faded they need new headlights! This absolutely not true! The fogginess generally comes from a combination of sunlight, rain and dust damage. When the headlights get foggy, that can be a problem. The vehicle can become dangerous to drive which degrades your night visibility or even during the rainy season. If your headlight is cloudy and needs some cleaning then a direct spray can be useful to wipe the dust away with the handful towel.

How To Clean A Vehicle’s Headlights

Headlight cleaning with toothpaste and sandpaper

There is a list of disappointments which untidy and dirty headlights can cause, considering the priority ‘the looks of the car’ and they also reduce the visibility at night or in a different atmosphere. It is always a smart choice to keep the headlights clean and clear for visibility. We can’t thank enough to multiple tricks which are quick and easy to implement in order to clean the lights and make them look good as brand new. The best part is they do not overthrow a huge budget upon you neither it will take hours.

The reason for which headlight cleaning is important is that the dirt present in them don’t let the light beams passed through it. Which all together makes inaccessibility of other road travelers to see you on the road, it can generate maximum possibilities of road accidents. Also, the dirty headlights can defuse maximum light beams eventually stop throwing the light to the outermost reaches when the roads are clean. Under such circumstances, it becomes hard to detect any danger in dark conditions. Looking to buy a new car then, here is a checklist before you get one for you.

The cheapest trick of the trade

If the dirt is fresh then it is easy to get rid of it with the help of cloth and clean water, all you have to do is wash it. Trouble generates when the headlights have not remained oxidized for a longer time or when the dirt is battering or murky. Even if the dirt deposited on headlights are yellowed or cloudy then you need to go through the extra process for the cleaning.

Cleaning with toothpaste

Yes, toothpaste, this is available in every home, store and it is also based upon your affordability. Among various other solutions on how to clean headlights, this one is the quickest, cheaper and easily accessible trick. The only required materials are a toothbrush, toothpaste (better if it has baking soda as an active ingredient), a spray bottle and a piece of cloth. Once you have collected the material let’s start with the process.

  • Apply little toothpaste from the tube on headlights, cover it with the help of a wet toothbrush.
  • Rub it gently and until you think that the headlight is getting cleaner and dirt is sliding.
  • Now spray lukewarm water on to it (you can also sprinkle it in some amount).
  • Clean the toothpaste from the headlights using a piece of cloth or wipe it away with any other clean tissue.
  • If you want to do this more professionally can you can also use a rotary buffer in order to move toothpaste on headlights.
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And it’s done, with the help of basic ingredients and in a couple of minutes, you have got your headlights clean and dirt free.

Cleaning with sandpaper

This process can give you longer results, it is a little bit complicated compared with the previous one and also you need to be careful. For this, we have to remove the headlight and if you are not willing to do so just cover the surrounding with masking tape. You must have car insurance to get your car insured from any damage or loss.

  • Once you have masked the body works with tape, wet headlight and 400-grit sandpaper with lukewarm.
  • Now in circular motion sand it gently, keeping the sandpaper and headlight wet. In order to finish the process sand in a horizontal direction.
  • Now use wet 600-grit sandpaper and do the same process, clean it with water.
  • Use wet 2000-grit sandpaper continue sanding in a circular motion.
  • Finally, clean the headlight with water, you can apply wax over it to protect the lens.

Apart from this, you can also use some cleaning kits which are easily available in markets. It contains all the necessary tools I’m procedures through which you can clean the headlights.

How to provide extra shine in the headlights

The headlight lenses are composed of polycarbonate plastic as this plastic is capable of dealing with harsh conditions without and disappointments. The only deal you have to make is that it does not go well along with the sun. Actually, the manufacturers have coated the lens with a UV protective film to prevent this but with the progression and time, this film gets destroyed and allowing the plastic to get oxidized. If you are also dealing with the yellowish or hazed headlights then why not try to get rid of the oxidized ones. You don’t need to worry much about it as cleaning the headlights has become one of the easiest DIYs and you can do it with easily available ingredients.

Things which you might need

You have to start by counting the materials you have and for this, you need a headlight Restoration kit containing all the necessary elements. There are few of the best kits available in the market you can prefer those or if you have expertise in this then you can also individually purchase all of these products. You actually need a few different grits of dry or wet sandpaper (1000, 2000 and 3000 are best), polishing compound, paste wax and a UV sealant. You may also need a roll of blue painter’s tape and microfiber towels.

Let’s start the cleaning

You have to start by washing the headlight lenses with a bar of mild car soap and plain water, try to cover the surrounding area as well.

Tape the headlights

You just have to sand the lenses but not the surrounding area so for better protection you can you use painters tape to cover the headlight’s surroundings. Believe me, you will think about this later.

Sand away

This is the most incredible step where you have to sand gently. The overall process is the same and you have different grits of sandpaper just wait for the headlights and sand the lens straight in horizontal strokes. The only thing you need to take care of is wet the surface and sandpaper continuously as it will reduce the risk of bad scratching of the lens. How clean your headlights are, is totally independent of how much time you have invested in the cleaning. So have patience and clean it with additional time.

Polish and waxing

Now you are done with the dirty job, clean the headlights and wipe it with a clean cloth. Squeeze some polishing material on a microfiber towel and rub it in circular motions. If you are comfortable using and orbital buffer then you can get it done more quickly. Now as you have made the lenses clear you can apply wax to it. This will help you to give a final touch.

Use UV sealant

Till this step, you have successfully removed the old and oxidized sealant from the headlights. If you have skipped this step then all of your hard work means nothing because this process will provide a protective layer which will prevent the lenses from hazing again. Wet a paper towel and apply the UV sealant in broad strokes. You have to cover it completely and apply only one layer of it (better if you use instructions on your kit).

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For the testing

For the best solutions on “how to clean oxidized headlights,” you have to carefully go to the process mentioned in the Restoration kit which has chosen. As no matter, the difference among kits some process are more or less the same. If the results are not visible then if you can either repeat the process or it might need professional help.

Some other options to get rid of cloudy and oxidized headlights

Headlights in cars are made up of very strong and durable plastic but as the time passes by it becomes porous, the situation gets worse when the UV protection also backs off. For the cleaning of headlights, it is essential for you to determine if the oxidation in it is happening on the outer surface or inner surface. If it is happening on the outer surface then it means that oxidation is general and it can be removed with the help of all the process mentioned in this article. In case the oxidation is inside then it means that moisture has already entered the core and you cannot fix it easily. I regret to say that maybe you have to get a replacement for this damage.


If your only opinion with dirty and oxidized headlights is in consideration with the looks then you better need to dust it off as there are several other complexities associated with it. As the headlights get oxidized it becomes defective material in your vehicle which is not in accordance with the safety concerns. Murky or cloudy headlights do not allow the light to pass through them and as time goes by, the damage gets intensified. It is justified to call the headlights as your safety component in the vehicle as they also allow you to see and allow others to see you on the road. Hence it is essential that they worked as effectively as they can all the time and here we are presenting some better options to you which are affordable and less time-consuming. We have already seen in brief cleaning with toothpaste, know let’s see it in a different way.


Rush to the bathroom and get yourself toothpaste, in order to bring the lights to the former Glory you may also need a UV sealant, plain water, masking tape, some gloves, and cloth. Initially clean the headlights and remove the basic dirt deposited on the surface. Once it is done apply masking tape to the surroundings. Clean it with the help of toothpaste as mentioned earlier. Once you have White awaited toothpaste make sure all the dirt has been removed. And at last for better protection dry it again and apply UV sealant or Wax to prevent damage.

Why toothpaste

As the toothpaste contains mild abrasives it is the easiest and safest way to get the headlights clean. As we basically use them to clean stains and plaque from teeth, it is also good to clean the oxidized plastic products. In case your headlights are cloudier then you can also purchase a dedicated car glass cleaner along with car polish. Both of these products contain more abrasive elements which will help you to buff out the damaging effects of UV.

Last but not the least; you can take the car for the professional work and repairs. You don’t have to worry about it as it isn’t an expensive treatment. Though it is expensive from the home repairs still it is cheaper from the whole replacement. If the easy home repairs are not doing their job as per your expectations then you have to bring the professionals to work. As most of the mechanics have brilliant air-powered buffing tools through which you will get relieved with the headlights. So have your luck, drive safely and enjoy it with your shiny headlights.

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1 Comment

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  • Car Tailing , December 13, 2019 @ 3:00 pm

    Hi Toni, thank you for sharing these tips for us in the interior car detailing in summer. I’d like to know since the weather is humid and super hot, how frequent should the car owner have to do car detailing during summer? Thanks!

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