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Everything you need to know on how to clean car headlights

The best way to clean headlights could be with household items like white vinegar and toothpaste. Read on for the full method.


car headlights

It’s important to know how to clean headlights, not only because they make your car look great but also for safety: dirty lights won’t beam as bright. Here are our top tips on how to clean car headlights, including some novel ways to get them back to their shiny best.

Taping the area around your headlight properly is an important part of learning how to clean car headlights safely. Doing this helps to protect seals and paintwork so you can start cleaning confidently.

How to clean plastic headlights: 2 surprising methods

One the biggest problems you’re up against when cleaning headlights is oxidation. This occurs when the protective film over your plastic headlights wears away and can expose your headlights to UV rays, chemicals and stones on the road. All of these can cause yellowing on your lights – but there are ways to remove it. This guide teaches you how to clean yellow headlights with two surprising household products. If you want to tackle other areas of your car, read our article on how to wash your car.

1. How to clean oxidised headlights with toothpaste

Before trying this method, determine whether the damage is inside or out. External yellowing can be fixed but anything internal may require you to replace the headlight.

  1. lean headlights with soapy water first.

  2. Let them dry and then use masking tape to protect the surrounding paintwork.

  3. Add a dab of toothpaste to a damp cloth and rub over your headlights.

  4. Add extra toothpaste and water as necessary.

  5. Rinse off, air dry and then wax to finish.

Cleaning car headlights with toothpaste works because it is mildly abrasive – abrasive enough to buff the headlight but not enough to cause damage.

2. How to clean foggy headlights with white vinegar

In addition to cleaning headlights with toothpaste, vinegar can also do a great job too. Follow these steps to clean headlights with vinegar:

  1. Wash off dirt and grime with hot soapy water.

  2. Mix water with white vinegar to a ratio of 3:1 and pour into a spray bottle.

  3. Cover the headlights with your vinegar cleaner and let it sit for around 1 minute to dissolve the fogginess.

  4. Wipe away with a soft cloth.

  5. Rinse with water, dry, and wax to finish.

Cleaning headlights with white vinegar works because the acid is able to break down grimy particles and leave your headlights with a polished finished. If white vinegar alone isn’t strong enough to get rid of clean foggy headlights then you can try mixing white vinegar and baking soda together in a ratio of 2:1 and applying in the same method as above.

Now that you know how to clean headlights to remove fogginess and yellowing, you’ll be able to bring them back to their sparkly best. Who’d have thought you had the solution for the best way to clean headlights sitting in your bathroom and kitchen cabinets? 

  • Wash with soapy water to begin.

  • Tape around your headlights to protect seals and paintwork.

  • Use a soft cloth to apply your chosen cleaning solution.

  • Rinse thoroughly, dry, and repeat if necessary.

  • Wax to finish.

Originally published