Turtle wax rubbing compound

Rubbing Compound and Headlight Restoration

Using rubbing compound to restore headlights is among the many hacks we can use to get headlights looking great again. There aren’t many resources that cover this effectively, mostly because there is additional work that is required to get the best results possible

When headlights are oxidized we can choose to repair or replace the headlights with new ones when this happens. If replaced, then the job is done. As for restoration, there are many options. In this case, we will analyze how to restore headlights with a rubbing compound.

We will need:

  • Rubbing compound
  • Three clean towels
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Painters tape or masking tape

Step 1

We begin by cleaning the headlight with water. This ensures that the surface is clean and there is no contamination. Once clean, and dry with a towel we can move forward with the next action.

Step 2

Tape the surrounding area of the headlight to protect the paint from being damaged. You can also do this without the tape because the rubbing compound does not damage the paint compared to sanding the headlight.

Step 3

Apply the rubbing compound on a clean cloth, then evenly spread the compound on the headlight.

With the cloth, rub the headlight surface until the compound becomes clear and the headlight is visible. Wipe off the residue and inspect the headlight to see if the oxidation has been cleared entirely. If not, repeat the process to your satisfaction.

Step 4

Once clear, rinse the headlight with water to remove any residue. Wipe with a clean cloth. Remove the tape, and the headlight should be clear again.


  • While this process is relatively easy to perform, the same can be done with toothpaste and a brush. This is because all compounds have granules that remove oxidation while rubbing. The same applies to toothpaste, so it is cheaper to use toothpaste than rubbing compound.
  • Clearing headlights and restoration are not the same. While we have made the headlight clear using rubbing compound, we might have to repeat the process after some days. Restoration involves correction/repair and protection. We must protect the headlight against UV rays for the results to last.
  • It is better to restore a headlight than to have an oxidized headlight; using a rubbing compound is better than leaving the headlight as is.
  • Always apply a UV protective coat on the headlights when done. We can apply sealants, waxes, ceramic coat, or clear coat to ensure the clarity endures.

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