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How To Clean Foggy Headlights and Make Them Look New

April 4, 2017

Want a quick DIY that will take your car up a couple notches? Turn your car's headlights from dirty and fogged to sparkly clean in minutes!

RepairPal KB takes you through three options for headlight cleaning: traditional headlight cleaner from your local auto parts store, using basic household items to get the job done, and using a complete restoration kit from Amazon. 


Cleaning headlights with headlight cleaner

What you'll need
1. Headlight Lens Cleaner (Get it anywhere from Amazon, to your local automotive store)
2. Drill and buffing ball
3. Rubber gloves
4. Clean, dry cloth (T-shirt works fine too!)

Note: Always read the packaging before beginning your restoration. Be cautious when applying the liquid to the headlight. Do so in small, circular motions, as to not get any on the surrounding paint or trim. Also, practice caution when using the buffing ball and ensure it does not touch the surrounding paint or trim. Use a cloth to buff the edges if needed. Some liquids may require time in between the application and the removal. 

Worried about damaging the paint or trim pieces? Use painter's tape and paper to seal off the surrounding areas.

2-month checkup: 

Although this lasted longer than the toothpaste, it still didn't give me the effects I was looking for. My headlights reverted to their old selves in a couple months after this cleaning. Great for: temporary fix, longer than a week.


Cleaning headlights with whitening toothpaste

What you'll need
1. Whitening toothpaste
2. Clean cloth
3. Water
4. Timekeeping device
5. Rubber gloves

Note: Avoid toothpaste with "crystals" or "beads" as they can be too abrasive and potentially cause damage. Although toothpaste can seem like a safe, non-damaging alternative when cleaning headlights, be cautious not to apply any to the paint or trim around the headlight. After applying the toothpaste in small, circular motions, let it sit for at least 15 minutes before removing in the same small, circular motions.

2-month checkup:

Toothpaste is a great way to get some sparkly clean headlights with simple ingredients you already have at home, but it doesn't last quite as long as other headlight cleaners. Great for: temporary fix, lasts a couple weeks.


How to make headlights look like new with a restoration kit

What you'll need
1. Water
2. Face mask and goggles
3. Headlight restoration kit (We used the Wipe New Headlight Restore Kit* on Amazon). This should include all necessary items, such as gloves, a clean cloth, etc.

Make sure to use plenty of water when sanding to achieve the desired effects. You may feel like giving up, but this is one of the most important parts, so keep going. 

Wear something to cover your face and eyes while opening and using the chemical "Wipe-it" cloth – it has an extremely strong smell, even outdoors!

Make sure to avoid the paint around the headlight while sanding and using the chemical cloth.

2-month checkup:

I'm extremely impressed — my headlights still look like new! This restoration kit really worked. I don't expect it to last forever, but for the money, it feels awesome to walk out to my car every day and see some shining headlights looking back at me. Great for: more permanent effects.

*RepairPal does not receive any compensation for this product. RepairPal did not receive this product for free.

About the Author

Kimberlea Buczeke is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

3 User Comments

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By , May 27, 2017
I used a inexpensive tooth paste from "Dollar Store". It worked quite well. It did clear up the covers and another plus is the exhaust never smelled better.
By , June 08, 2017
Try using Cutter bug spray with Deet. Spray on let sit for 15mins.Respray & wipe clean using a circular motion. Amazing!!
By , August 04, 2017
Hi I`m Jerry Bryant and for headlamp cleaning when fogged up OFF BUG SPRAY, cleans it like glass. I didn't believe it either. Don't let it drip on your paint!!!!!!

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