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How to Clean your Car's Headlights

When you notice that your headlights are not as bright as they used to be at night or appear foggy during the day, you should act as soon as possible—Yes, you can fix it by yourself. Your headlights should be in optimal working conditions for safety purposes, especially during night driving or driving in conditions with limited visibility. Apart from ensuring that your headlight bulbs are not burned out, foggy headlight lenses significantly affect the quality of light emitted by your headlights. Upon visual inspection, you may also notice a yellowish, dingy tinge to your light.

Before finding out how to restore your car's headlights, you should know what makes them foggy.

Why are Your Headlights Foggy?

The reason for headlight fogging is quite scientific. In the older days, headlight lenses were made from glass. Currently, car manufacturers make most headlights from thick plastic comprising polycarbonates. These plastic lenses are much more scratch-resistant and durable than the older glass lenses. However, when this polycarbonate plastic is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun over time, its outer layers start breaking down and degrading. As a result, these plastic lenses absorb blue light from your headlight bulbs, emitting a less potent, yellowish light.

This condition might sound scary; however, the good news is that cleaning foggy headlights is relatively easy, even with DIY methods.

How to Clean Your Headlights

These guidelines explain how to clean your car's headlights with proper car cleaning supplies and make them as good as new.

Using Toothpaste

Toothpaste works as well as conventional car detailing supplies. Since toothpaste is mildly abrasive, it is an excellent choice for removing the residue that makes your headlights foggy. You can dedicate as few as five minutes per headlight when using a DIY method.


You will need toothpaste, masking tape, car wash soap, car washing cloths, disposable gloves, and car wax.


  • Clean your foggy headlights thoroughly with car wash soap and allow them to air dry
  • Mask the areas around your headlights to protect your car's paint and plastic parts, as the drying toothpaste is mildly abrasive.
  • Wear disposable gloves
  • Place a little toothpaste on a damp cleaning cloth and rub your headlights firmly, adding small amounts of water and toothpaste as you continue.
  • Dedicate about five minutes for each light to achieve the desired effect.
  • Rinse your headlights with clean water.
  • Allow your headlights to air dry
  • Buff each headlight with a clean cloth.
  • To protect your headlights and keep them looking clear for a long, apply a small amount of car wax to them.

Other Ways of Cleaning Your Headlights

  • Using vinegar and baking soda: Household vinegar effectively dissolves grease, dirt, and debris and is environmentally friendly. Home vinegar works best on very cloudy or oxidized headlights.
  • Using window cleaner and car polish: Window or glass cleaner effectively restores foggy headlights. Use the window or glass cleaner to prepare the headlight surface before applying car polish.

Keeping Your Headlights from Clouding

Oxidation of headlights occurs when they are exposed to the elements for a long duration. Here are some steps you can take to prevent your headlights from fogging.

  1. Park your car away from direct sunlight, preferably in a cool, dry place. Also, consider buying a protective cover if you use a residential parking lot.
  2. Take care of your headlights when washing your car. Also, use a microfiber cloth for drying your headlights.
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