How to Clean Your Car Headlights

Are your car’s headlights getting cloudy? Here are some tips on how to clean your car headlights.

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               Recently, I noticed that my headlights showed a yellowish color. Upon careful inspection, I noticed that they were cloudy and not as clear as before. I also inspected for cracks and water droplets inside the headlights – good thing there were none.


               There are a number of reasons why headlights become cloudy. The number one reason is that new headlights are now made of polycarbonate or plastic. This change was done during the 1980s to prevent the headlights from breaking easily. Now, plastic causes oxidation. Over time, oxidation is caused by UV light, road debris and particles, atmospheric chemicals, and grime.


               When your headlights are cloudy, it affects visibility during night time. But, don’t fret, because you can quickly clean the headlights. The only problem is if there are water droplets inside. You need to bring your car to a professional to have them cleaned. Also, if there are cracks in your headlights, they definitely need replacement.


Simple Methods to Clean Your Headlights


               There are a few ways on how to clean your car headlights. We will discuss simple household remedies to ensure that your headlights will be bright and shiny.  Before starting with any of the methods, make sure that you have properly cleaned your headlights with car shampoo and water to get rid of surface dirt and grime. This allows you to inspect how much cleaning you need to do.


Method 1: Sanding and Polishing


What You Need


·         1500 to 2000 grit sandpaper ONLY (not all sandpaper is good)

·         Applicator pads

·         Microfiber cloths

·         Painter’s tape or masking tape

·         Polishing compound such as Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound

·         Acrylic floor wax or Carnauba car wax such as Turtle Wax Carnauba Cleaner Paste


               Use painter’s tape around the edges of the headlights, so the car paint does not get scratched. Use 1500 to 2000 grit sandpaper only to sand your headlights. Sand the headlights until you get a dull finish.

               After that, get a clean microfiber cloth and a buffing compound to polish the headlights. It would be best to use aluminum polishing compounds. Work by sections and rub in a circular motion until you get a shiny finish. It may take up to three coats to get the clarity that you want.

               You can also use household products such as a non-abrasive bathroom acrylic sink cleaner. Make sure the product does not contain peroxide or any whitening agent.

               As a final touch, you can protect the headlights with clear coat, acrylic floor wax, or Carnauba car wax.



Method 2: Glass Cleaner and Automotive Polish


What You Need

·         Glass cleaner such as Meguiar’s Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner

·         Automotive polish such as Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Polish

·         Clean microfiber cloths

·         Applicator pads

               For this method, you also need to tape off the surrounding areas of your headlights. The first thing you need to do is spray on glass cleaner on the headlights. Don’t be afraid to spray on the headlights generously.  Wipe it off with a clean microfiber cloth to get rid of surface dirt.

               Next, use another clean cloth or microfiber applicator pads to apply automotive polish. Circularly rub the surface and add more polish as needed. Then, use a dry cloth or polisher to polish off the headlights.

               Rinse the headlights with water. The final step is to apply car wash to protect the headlights from oxidation.


Method 3: Toothpaste


What You Need

·         Any non-gel toothpaste

·         Clean microfiber cloths

·         Painter’s tape or masking tape

               Toothpaste is a good stain remover. It contains a mild abrasive that smoothes and buffs the surface, just like your teeth.

               Clean your headlights with car shampoo and water before starting. Allow it to dry completely then inspect the surface. Next, apply painter’s tape or masking tape on the surrounding areas of the headlights.   The next step is to get a clean microfiber cloth, dampen it, then put a dab of toothpaste on the fabric. Rub the surface of the headlights in a circular motion, adding more toothpaste and water as needed.

               Rinse the headlights with clean water and allow it to dry completely. Repeat the process if you are not satisfied with the results. Finish off with car wax to protect your headlights from clouding.


Method 4: Dish Soap

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What You Need

·         Warm water

·         Sponge

·         Regular dishwashing liquid


Rinse your headlights thoroughly to remove dust. Use dishwashing liquid mixed with warm water to scrub your headlights. After that, rinse completely with water. Allow it to air dry or wipe it off with clean microfiber cloth.


Method 5: Baking Soda


What You Need

·         Bowl

·         Clean cloth

·         Baking soda

·         Sponge


Clean your headlights first before applying baking soda. Put painter’s tape or masking tape on the surrounding areas of your headlights. In a bowl, mix five tablespoons of baking soda and water to form a paste. Apply the paste generously on the headlights and leave it on for about five minutes. The baking soda soaks up most of the oxides. Polish your headlights with a clean cloth using circular motions. Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the results. Rinse the headlights thoroughly. Otherwise, you will end up with fogged and pasty headlights.





Method 6: White Vinegar


What You Need

·         White vinegar

·         Warm water

·         Rough sponge

·         Soft, clean cleaning cloth

·         Plain cooking spray


For this method, you need to remove the headlight covers. Mix one part vinegar with five parts warm water and immerse the headlight covers for an hour. The vinegar’s acidity will remove any oxidized substances. After that, rinse the headlights and dry them off. Spray with some cooking spray and buff it with a clean cloth. Do not rub too hard because it might scratch your headlights. This method works well if your headlight covers have scratches in them.




               I hope you found the above methods very helpful. Having bright and shiny headlights need not be expensive if you try these simple home solutions.  Feel free to share with us your thoughts about the article. We also welcome any suggestions or feedback. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends!


Bio Author :David Walker is an auto mechanic and owner of car understanding . He share his advice about cars in there, you can visit his blog to find out more.