How to Clean Headlights

December 12, 2019
Traffic at night

Headlights are an important safety feature on your car, whether you’re driving at night or in inclement weather. Unfortunately, headlights can become foggy and dirty, which dulls their brightness and makes them less effective at lighting the road. Plastic headlights can become foggy as a result of UV ray exposure and damage from the elements.

If your lights don’t appear as bright as usual, try one of these methods to clean them. There are several ways to restore clarity to your headlight lenses.

Use liquid soap, baking soda and vinegar

With liquid soap, baking soda and vinegar, you can restore your headlights in a few simple steps. Keep in mind that this method may not fully brighten very yellowed, foggy lights, and you may need to repeat the steps several times.[1]

Begin by cleaning dust from the headlights with a microfiber cloth. Add a tablespoon or two of liquid soap to a bucket. Add enough water to thin the soap to a watery solution. Using another clean microfiber cloth, clean the headlight with the soap solution. The idea is to get the lens as clean as possible before using the baking soda and vinegar. Rinse the soap off the headlights using a spray bottle of water and use a towel to dry the headlights.

Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda with enough white vinegar to form a thick paste. Using a dry-cleaning cloth, gently polish the headlamp with the paste. Rinse the paste off with the spray bottle of water and repeat until the lens is clean and clear.

How to clean car headlights with toothpaste

Before beginning, remove dust and grime from the headlight with a clean cloth. Then, spray the headlight with water using your spray bottle. Using an old toothbrush, apply toothpaste to the lens and gently scrub.[2] Use regular white toothpaste, not the gel type.[3] Rinse with water until toothpaste is gone and the headlight is clear.

How to clean foggy headlights using a headlight restoration kit

These kits can be expensive, but they’re effective and safe for restoring headlights.[4] Use them as directed; typically, you’ll just need to apply the cleanser and rinse. A kit may also come with waxing compounds to protect the lights.[5] With any method, use soft cleaning cloths made of microfiber. These are gentle and can help to prevent scratching. They also typically don’t leave stray fibers behind. Learn how to restore your headlights.

Keeping your headlights bright is just one important component of car maintenance. If your headlight goes out, learn how to replace a headlight to keep your car safe and in good working order.






  • Maintenance