How To Clean Headlights (7 Best Ways)

When was the last time you cleaned your vehicle’s headlights? If you notice your headlights aren’t as shiny or as bright in the night or appear a bit foggy in the daytime, then they need to be cleaned.

Headlights that have become Foggy and dim can indeed be a problem for cars that are getting old. Foggy headlights can be easily fixed.

You can choose to clean them yourself with only a small amount of time and effort. It will help you see clearly again at night when driving on dark roads.

As you proceed through this guide, you will learn a variety of methods for cleaning headlights. Each of these methods can be done very easily and will help you restore your headlights to their original state.

Furthermore, we will discuss how to prevent headlights from becoming foggy and why it happens. 

Let’s begin!

How To Clean Headlights With Toothpaste

The easiest way to clean foggy headlights is by using toothpaste. This hack only works if the headlights are slightly foggy and not completely obscured.

Follow these steps to know how to clean headlights using toothpaste:

  1. Clean the headlights using soapy water.
  2. Apply toothpaste to the headlights with a clean, dry cloth, then rub it all over the headlight in circular motions.
  3. Make sure you clean each headlight for at least five to ten minutes using as much toothpaste as necessary to maintain the cleanliness.
  4. In order to prevent fogging, rinse the headlights thoroughly using clean water.

Pro Tip: This toothpaste headlight restoration method only works if your headlights have only been minorly foggy.

Continue reading to discover other ways you can clean your vehicle’s headlights if they have been severely damaged or foggy.

Also, find out why cleaning them using the toothpaste technique doesn’t seem to work in this situation.

How to Clean Headlights With WD-40

clean headlight

Although WD-40 could be used to restore oxidized headlights faster, they may not provide the best long-term solution for headlight restoration.

Follow these steps to know how to clean headlights with WD-40:

  1. Cover your car’s headlights with protective wrap in preparation for defogging.
  2. Prepare the surface for the WD-40 lubrication by washing it with a wash mitt and a bucket mixed with car shampoo (or liquid detergent soap).
  3. WD-40 cans should be shaken thoroughly before use. Spray the WD-40 onto the headlight lens. Make sure you don’t get it in unprotected areas of the vehicle.
  4. After removing the lubricant with a clean wash mitt or rag, wipe the headlight clean using a cloth and remove the tape (don’t let any lubricant touch the headlight).

Pro Tip: Do not spray too much WD-40 on your car headlights. WD-40, due to its chemical properties as a solvent, could cause headlight bulbs to become damaged or even burned if you do not thoroughly clean them off after using them.

Also Read: How Much Oil Does My Car Need?

How To Clean Headlights with Vinegar and Baking Soda

For cloudy headlights, a do-it-yourself homemade solution using vinegar and baking soda is quite a good option.

The efficiency of cleaning off dirt, grease, and debris using household vinegar is remarkable. You can also use vinegar to clean car headlights.

If your headlights are extremely cloudy or oxidized, vinegar will work best. You will need the following items to make this solution.

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Washing soap for cars
  • Distilled white vinegar 
  • Baking soda 
  • A clean container

Follow these steps to know how to clean headlights with vinegar and baking soda:

  1. Use a car wash soap and water to clean your headlights. Leave them to air dry for a couple of minutes before continuing to the next step.
  2. Mix two parts baking soda and one part vinegar in a clean container to make a solution. Stir or shake the ingredients together until blended.
  3. Using a microfiber towel, absorb the mixture and rub it on each headlight for some time. If necessary, you can add more mixture.
  4. After rinsing your headlights with water, let the lights air dry if necessary. Rinse the headlights every time with clean water after each application.

How to Clean Foggy Headlight With Bug Spray

You could also use a home bug spray to clear out the fog on your car’s headlights. It turns out that this repellent is a handy tool for cleaning foggy headlights.

To do so, simply apply the solution on a foggy headlight, then scrub it off with a dry cloth.

It is important that you avoid using too much bug spray; otherwise, it will ruin the plastic surface of your car’s headlights.

How To Clean Headlights With Window Cleaner And Car Polish

Foggy headlights can be cleared using a window cleaner or a glass cleaner. Use the window cleaner to prep the surface of the headlights for car polishing. You may want to consider using an ammonia-free window cleaner in order to mitigate any damage caused by the chemicals in this type of product. Here are the things you will need to get started.

  • A clean microfiber cloth
  • A masking tape
  • Disposable safety gloves
  • An effective window cleaner
  • An automobile Polish
  • A vehicle buffer (optional)
  • Automobile wax
  • A bucket of water

Follow these steps to know how to clean headlights with Window Cleaner And Car Polish:

  1. You can use masking tape to protect the trim, paint, and plastic elements around the headlights during cleaning.
  2. Put some window cleaner on the headlights and let it sit for a few seconds. Then use a microfiber cloth to remove the window cleaner.
  3.  After polishing the headlight surfaces with another microfiber cloth, proceed to rub the headlight surfaces in a circular motion. Then use a polisher and a rotary car buffer to quickly apply the wax.
  4. After cleaning the headlight with clean water, go ahead and dry it with a microfiber towel.
  5. After your headlight is thoroughly cleaned and restored, apply a coat of car wax to prevent future clouding.

How To Clean Headlights That Are Extremely Foggy

How To Clean Headlights

If you’re tired of the extremely hazy look of your headlights, and you have tried all the other regular methods of cleaning them, but with little success, following this step-by-step home method, you can cheaply and easily restore your extremely cloudy headlights back to new in no time. Here are all the items you will need for this method:

  • Spray bottle filled with soapy water.
  • 400, 1000, or 3000 grit sandpapers
  • Low-lint wiping cloth
  • Car wax

Follow these steps to know how to clean headlights that are extremely foggy:

  1. Remove dirt and stains from the headlights by spraying and cleaning them with soapy water.
  2. You can get rid of the fogginess that results from oxidized material by sanding the headlights with 400 grit sandpaper. It is best to use plenty of soapy water when you sand the headlights to avoid damaging them.
  3. Now begin to sand the headlights to create a smooth finish with a lower grit sandpaper (1500 and 3000 grit, respectively). The headlights are going to appear a bit rough and scratchy at this point, but don’t worry, that’s just part of the process.
  4. You can use car polish to restore the shine to your headlamps by rubbing them in.
  5. For the purpose of preventing discolorations and haziness in the future, seal the headlamps with car wax or a thin film of clear coat.

How to Clean Inside of Headlights

Though cleaning headlights that are foggy from the inside may seem difficult, we’ve prepared a list of steps to help you clean that fogginess from the inside out.

Follow these steps to know how to clean headlights that are fuggy from the inside:

  1. Pull the headlight out of the car.
  2. After taking out the headlight from the vehicle, use a heat gun to heat up the body and joint lens of the headlights, the heat from the heat gun will melt down the adhesive that binds them together, then let it cool for a few minutes. Carefully pull out the lens with your hands.
  3. Ensure that you remove all dirt and moisture from the interior of the headlight by cleaning it with a low-lint cloth.
  4. Seal the headlight with silicone or any other sealant to prevent dust and dirt from entering the headlights in the future.
  5. Install the headlights into the car.

After seeing all this information about how to clean headlights, we hope you know more now than before how to safely and correctly care for your headlights using different methods. Now let’s discuss the reasons why headlights become foggy and how we can avoid having this.

What Causes Deadlights To Become Foggy?

Foggy headlights come as a result of oxidation in the environment. In this process, the headlights gather a yellow-colored or opaque white haze, causing them to become foggy.

Fogging of headlights occurs when the outer surface of the headlamp covers reacts with oxygen and atmospheric particles.

When this happens at high temperatures, chemical pollutants in the air can also cause condensation within the headlamps, making them foggier. 

Typically, headlights have a service life of about five years. Their materials undergo autolysis changes and become foggy.

In addition, water and dust can also enter the lamps if the seals on the headlight assembly are cracked or broken, causing them to become foggy.

How To Keep Your Headlights From Getting Foggy

The headlight bulbs may turn yellow, hazy, or appear opaque after years of exposure to sun and UV rays.

In addition to environmental factors such as years of direct sunlight and dust particles, driving in extreme weather conditions can damage your headlights.

Driving through sand and gravel tends to wear away the protective layers in your headlights, while saltwater corrosion may also occur.

You can follow these steps to prevent fogging your headlights.

  1. It’s best to park your vehicle in a dry, cool area away from direct sunlight. If you are parking in a residential area, consider purchasing a vehicle cover.
  2. While washing your car, pay attention to the headlights and dry the car with a microfiber cloth.

Also Read: Transmission Fluid Colors & What They Mean

Frequently Asked Question

Does toothpaste work on headlights?

You can use regular toothpaste to remove tough dirt from your headlights. Many kinds of toothpaste have baking soda or other soft, abrasive ingredients that can clean your teeth as well as your headlights. Toothpaste will work on any surface that needs cleaning.

How do you clean foggy headlights?

Vinegar and baking soda are effective cleaners for foggy headlights. Both are strong enough to remove fog without damaging or scratching the headlights. Rain-X, a polishing compound that can be used to repair UV damage, might also work.

How do you clean plastic headlights?

To clean the plastic headlight, wash the headlights and the entire vehicle with soapy water. Then use a clean cloth to dry the headlights. After that, use a small WD-40 bottle to spray a generous amount of the lubricant onto the lens. And Finally, Wipe the headlights clean with a dry towel.

Will Magic Eraser clean headlights?

Although it is not advisable to polish the outside of your car with Magic Eraser because of its abrasiveness which can damage your car’s paint, you can use it to clean cloudy headlights. Magic Eraser can be used to remove the yellowing that may develop in headlights over time. Apply Magic Eraser on your car’s headlights to clean them. Allow to dry, then wipe it off with a damp paper towel.

Can you use wd40 to clean headlights?

Apply a thick layer of WD-40 to the headlights. Let it sit for between 5-10 minutes. The specially designed solution will work to remove the buildup in your car’s headlight. Use a soft, gentle loofah to gently scrub the headlights.

How can I make my dull headlights clear again?

You can use baking soda to make headlights clear. To do this, Use baking soda to coat a rag. The paste can be used to rub on your lights. You can remove the layer of plastic that has deteriorated by using elbow grease. Give it a good rinse, and then you can get on the road.

Can you use coke to clean headlights?

You can use coke to clean headlights. To do this, soak a sponge and towel in the Coca-Cola liquid. Then apply the Coca-Cola drink to your foggy-looking headlights. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then wipe the headlights clean with a towel.

What home remedy cleans headlights?

Use dish soap to clean your headlights. Next, make a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Combine the vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl. Apply it to your headlights in circular motions, side-to-side, until clean.

Does baking soda clean headlights?

Yes! Here’s how to clean your car’s headlights with baking soda:
Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons baking soda and enough white vinegar to make a thick paste. Use a dry-cleaning cloth to gently polish the headlamp using the paste. Rinse off the paste using water from the spray bottle, then repeat this process until the lens is clear and clean.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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