How to Clean Headlights

If you’re reading this then your headlights are looking foggy and are having poor visibility as a result. When looking for remedies you’ll find out that headlights can be cleaned and made new again. The technical term for cleaning headlights is restoration. Cleaning implies removing dirt and water and soap should suffice. However, headlights fade as a result of the plastic degrading from the Sun’s UV light so cleaning won’t be enough hence restoration will be required.

In order to clean/restore headlights effectively. Repair and protection will be required. Repairs are done to correct the damage caused by UV rays. This damage is called oxidation. Protection is required so as to maintain the new look of the headlight as long as possible.

There are a variety of ways to restore headlights, the variation lies in how long the product lasts.

Short-term ways to clean your headlights

Clean your headlights at home using toothpaste

headlight restoration using toothpaste

To remove oxidation/fogginess a compound is required. Compounds work because they contain granules that sand off the oxidation when rubbing. Toothpaste works because of the same reason hence recommended for cleaning headlights.

  1. Apply toothpaste on a towel or toothbrush and wet the headlight lightly. 
  2. Work on the lens in small sections and ensure that the oxidation is cleared then move to the next area. 
  3. Once the headlight is clear rinse and the process is completed. 
  4. Apply wax for extra protection.

Cleaning headlights using  baking soda

vinegar and baking soda

Some recommend using lemon and baking soda and rubbing them onto the headlight. Work the headlight until clear. The same result can also be achieved when a baking soda paste is made by mixing baking soda and water. Apply the paste on a towel and rub it on the lens till clears.

As with the toothpaste apply wax for extra protection.

Please note that with both toothpaste and baking soda the results will last for days and the process will have to be repeated.

Cleaning headlights using bug spray

This method might be recommended but it is to be avoided because bug spray actually melts the headlights lens, so avoid it at all costs.

Cleaning the headlights using WD40


WD40 is a great product, and although it has unlimited uses headlight cleaning is not one of them. Applying it to the headlights does no damage to the lens. The glossy finish gives the impression of a clean headlight, but as soon as it clears or washes away the headlight will be dull again.

Long-term ways to clean the headlight

Headlight cleaning kits

Headlight restoration kits

These are packaged solutions that can be bought at a local store and have everything required to get headlights as good as new. Please note that not all kits deliver clear headlights as promised, so it is prudent to check some reviews and get the best-recommended kit. Follow the instructions that come with the kit to clean your headlights.

 A good kit should get your headlights new and last for years

Buffing/Polishing to clean the headlight

Headlight Restoration

This is an advanced way to clean headlights. More tools will be required and skills will be required but the upside is that the headlights will be as good as new. Superior ways of protecting the headlight will also be required once the job is done. Please read our step-by-step guide here.

Permanent Restoration

Permanent restoration

This is by far the best and what is done by professionals. More attention to detail is given to the entire process and a clear coat is applied which is similar to what was applied to the headlights when new. Lots of experience is required to get it perfectly hence professionals are preferred. If you are interested in doing it then here is a guide on how to get the job done


Any method to clear your headlight is preferable to dull headlights. There are plenty of options to clean headlights so choose one that suits you best.