How To Clean Headlights? (3 Easy Methods)

Remember your brand-new car with those spotless, crystal-clear headlights? While the business of life kept you sharp in other areas, your car headlights started to develop a certain tint of yellow haze. Now that you notice them, you wonder if it’s too late.

Is there anything you can do about it without spending a lot? Replacing them would be an unwise financial decision, but you do need them back to their original brilliance. Here are 3 solutions that are sure to shine a light on how to clean them right.

How To Clean Car Headlights with Toothpaste?

One effective solution for making cloudy headlights clear again is something you reach for every morning. Cleaning headlights with toothpaste works as well as traditional car detailing supplies. It’s mildly abrasive, making it excellent for cleaning off the residue that makes the headlights dim. Set aside about five minutes per headlight when using this DIY headlight cleaning method.

  1. Clean your headlights thoroughly with soap from your regular car washing supplies. Allow them to air dry for a few minutes before you move to the next step.
  2. Cover the areas around your headlights with masking tape. This will protect your vehicle’s paint and plastic parts from the mildly abrasive drying toothpaste.
  3. Wear disposable gloves and add a dab of toothpaste to a damp cleaning cloth. Rub each headlight firmly, adding toothpaste and small amounts of water as you go. Spend about five minutes on each light to obtain the desired effect.
  4. Rinse each headlight with clean water. Allow them to air dry before buffing each headlight with a second clean cloth.
  5. Apply a small amount of car wax to your headlights. This will protect them and keep them looking clear longer.

MORE: How to Repair Dim Headlights?

How To Clean Car Headlights

How To Clean Your Headlights with A Restoration Kit

Ganther recommends using a headlight restoration kit to get the best results. You can purchase a couple of different kits, and it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. When you use a restoration kit, he says, “You’re actually sanding that layer of plastic that’s oxidized away.” While each kit may be slightly different, here are the basic steps to follow.

  1. Wash the headlights with soap and water to remove debris but don’t dry them.
  2. Sand your headlights with the roughest piece of sandpaper from the kit.
  3. Next, use the next coarsest piece of sandpaper and do the same thing.
  4. Continue the process until you have used each piece of sandpaper in the kit, working from most to least abrasive.
  5. Keep the headlights wet with a spray bottle or hose while sanding.
  6. Clean them with soap and water to wash away any material that came off while sanding.
  7. Dry the headlights with a microfiber cloth.
  8. Seal the headlights with a clear coat if the kit provides a sealant.

How To Clean Headlights with Vinegar and Baking Soda

If you’ve got some baking soda and vinegar in your pantry, you can mix up a paste to clean your headlights. While baking soda and vinegar are generally safe to use on headlights, Ganther cautions against using chemical-based cleaners you may have around your house. You don’t know how the headlight will react, and the cleaner could damage it.

  1. Use a clean cloth to wash your headlights with car wash soap and water. Allow them to air dry for a few minutes before moving to the next step.
  2. Mix two parts distilled white vinegar and one part baking soda in a clean container. Stir or shake the mixture to combine.
  3. Dip one of the microfiber cleaning cloths in the mixture. Rub it onto each headlight, spending a few minutes on each one. Add more of the cleaning mixture as you go if needed.
  4. Rinse your headlights with clean water and allow them to air dry. Repeat the previous step if necessary, always rinsing your headlights after each application of the mixture.

MORE: How to Replace Car Headlight Bulbs?

How To Clean Car Headlights by Using Wd-40?

Step 1. Wipe the headlights for surface-level dust and muck with a damp cloth

Step 2. Spray a generous layer of WD-40 over the headlights and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. While you wait, the specially engineered solution will expertly get under the buildup and muck, making your next step easier.

Step 3. Take a soft, clean loofah and scrub the headlights gently. Next, just wipe the headlights with a clean cloth, and you’re done. An added advantage of using WD-40 is that it doesn’t just help give your car headlights a brand-new shine, it also adds a protective coating over it, that makes the shine last much longer!


How do you clean cloudy headlights?

Toothpaste and baking soda can be effective cleansers for cleaning headlights. Both products are abrasive enough to take off the fog without scratching or damaging the headlights. Polishing compounds such as Rain-X might also be effective enough to remedy UV damage.

What is the best home remedy to clean headlights?

Rubbing alcohol is a great cleaning solution that can help remove the grime and dirt from the headlights. Simply dip a soft cloth into rubbing alcohol, then apply it to the headlights. Scrub gently and rinse with water.

How do you fix cloudy headlights permanently?

To permanently restore headlights, you’ll need to sand off the oxidized layer from the lenses and apply a new UV coating. You’ll need sanding sheets and you’ll need to use a grit progression of 600 grit, 1,000 grit, and 2,000 grit.

Can you use Dawn dish soap on headlights?

If you want to shine up your headlights, dish detergent or dish soap is a fine way to do it.