How to Clean the Car Lights [Complete Guide]
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Headlights are necessary for lighting up the front end of your car so you can see the road ahead clearly. They are necessary not just for late-night travels, but also for wet days and foggy afternoons.
Are your car headlights no longer as wonderful and shiny as they once were?
It’s important to note that even if you wash your car once a week, alongside using the best solutions on the market to wipe it down after the rain, and park and keep it in a garage whenever possible, your headlights are likely to get foggy or fuzzy as time passes on.
There are three basic ways (that work) to clean your foggy or yellowish headlamps and they are: (1) by using a household cleaner that you have at hand, (2) by using WD-40, (3) by using a headlamp cleaner or restoration kit. They can all do a great job and you simply use the method that is most convenient for you.
As the fog on your headlamps thickens, it reduces the efficiency of your car’s actual bulbs, making it more difficult to see, especially at night. Of course, clean and bright headlamps are also necessary for other drivers to notice you driving at night or in low visibility conditions.
Household cleaning items to the rescue!
Cleaning headlights are sometimes overlooked, but oxidation will cause them to turn yellow or hazy with time. Though there are a variety of market pastes, solvents, and “special polishes” meant to clear dull beams, you may easily restore your headlights to showroom condition with common household products.
1. Baking soda
When it comes to DIY home treatments, baking soda is one of the finest ways to clear yellow headlights. And YES, that’s the one you have in your pantry! It will not only clear foggy headlights but will also aid in the removal of paint from fog lights.
Avoid rubbing the baking soda mixture on the paint around the headlights, you don’t want the baking soda combination to remove it as well!
In a bowl, combine roughly 5 teaspoons of baking soda with enough warm water to make a paste. Clean your headlights first, before putting a soda mixture on them.
First of all, give your headlights a thorough cleaning! After that, use a corner of your sponge to apply the baking soda paste on the headlamps, and be generous!
Using a clean cloth, polish your headlights in small circular strokes. Repeat this step as needed until you get the desired results. Your headlights will shine like new after they’ve been cleaned with dish soap and warm water.
Because baking soda does most of the work, you don’t need to use too much pressure when polishing. The following materials are required for cleaning your headlamps with baking soda:
- Baking Soda
- Cloth for wiping
- Bowl with warm water and soap
Baking soda functions as a polishing agent, absorbing the oxides and removing the yellowed plastic headlamps.
This is how you clean your headlights with vinegar:
- Step 1: Remove the cover off your headlights and soak it in a white vinegar bath for about an hour.
- Step 2: After soaking the headlight cover, remove the filth with a rough sponge and reinstall the cover.
- Step 3: After soaking the cover in the vinegar, gently rinse it
- Step 4: Dry it with a soft cloth.
Vinegar is a terrific way to clean cloudy headlights, but it also works wonders for restoring the shine of your headlight lenses. The acidity of the vinegar should dissolve any caked-on grime.
If your headlights are scratched, you can use vinegar to restore them to showroom condition. All you have to do is (after giving it the same vinegar soaking as mentioned above and drying it out), spray it with a plain cooking spray. and use a soft cloth to polish it to a shine.
With a little white vinegar and warm water, you can have sparkling headlights in about an hour. The following materials are required for this project:
- Main ingredient – vinegar (white)
- Warm water inside an appropriate size container for your headlamp cover
- Rough sponge for removing the grime
- Soft cloth for drying it out
- A plain cooking spray for polishing
- Another soft cloth for buffing
This is not a difficult process and with good results.
If you think of cleaning foggy headlights to be a similar process as brushing teeth, it’s no surprise that toothpaste is a very useful household remedy for cleaning headlights! In our case here, we are not going to use a toothbrush, but a soft cloth!
Even if this is not your case (you’ve never thought of doing so before), that bottle of toothpaste could come in handy when you find that your headlights have dimmed from a strong beam to a soft glow.
- Step 1: Apply a small amount of toothpaste directly to your headlights.
- Step 2: Start in the middle and work your way out to the corners of the headlights with a soft, dry cloth in circular motions.
- Step 3: Continue wiping away the toothpaste until it is totally gone, then admire the sparkling results.
You will need the following materials:
- Toothpaste (any regular toothpaste will do)
- Soft cloth (NOT a toothbrush!)
Simple, clear process and repeatable if necessary!
3. Dish soap
If you’re looking for a simple way to clean your hazy headlights, try dish soap. This common household item turns out to be an excellent home solution for cleaning your headlights.
Using a sponge and soapy water is one of the simplest ways to clean your headlights and taillights!
- Step 1: Wipe your headlights well.
- Step 2: Take a bucket of warm water and let them soak for a few minutes.
- Step 3: Apply dish soap directly from a container with your fingers first and then start scrubbing it with a sponge. This procedure is very similar to washing dishes. It will be best if you use small, circular motions.
- Step 4: After the grime is gone, rinse it out with more warm water.
- Step 5: Wipe it with a clean, dry cloth and enjoy your masterpiece!
The following materials are required for this project:
- Warm water in a bucket
- Dish soap and sponge
- Few soft-drying cloths
Not too difficult, right?
4. Dish soap and salt
Dish soap has already been discussed as a method for cleaning foggy headlights, but adding salt provides it a boost in the effectiveness of the whole cleaning procedure.
- Step 1: Fill a bowl halfway with warm water.
- Step 2: Add dish soap and salt.
- Step 3: Submerge your headlight cover in it.
- Step 4: After soaking for a few minutes, scrub it thoroughly with your sponge.
- Step 5: Once the grime is removed, rinse it and wipe it dry.
Household solvents, like dish soap, are specifically meant to cut through oil and this is why is so effective. Any junk should be easily removed from your headlight cover with this soap-and-salt combination.
The following materials are required for this project:
- Warm water
- Dish soap
- Soft dry cloths for drying
5. Bug repellent
Bug spray is fantastic for keeping pests at bay, but what about cleaning those yellow headlights? The chemicals in the bug spray help to eliminate some of the UV and dirt-damaged plastic off the surface of the headlights, giving them a cleaner, shinier appearance.
So, what do you do?
- Step 1: Apply a small amount of bug spray to a soft cloth
- Step 2: Rub it into your foggy headlights in gentle, circular strokes.
Say Goodbye to foggy, yellow headlights and say Hello to insect repellent Off (paid link)!
Needed materials for this project:
- Bug spray
- Soft dry cloth
Yes, it works…
6. Denatured alcohol
Have you forgotten what color your headlights were when you first bought them? You can use denatured alcohol to remove the yellow coating and fogginess on your headlamps.
What do we do?
- Step 1: Wash your headlight cover well with soapy water.
- Step 2. Rinse it and let it dry.
- Step 3. Dip the corner of your soft cloth into the alcohol.
- Step 4. Apply alcohol on your lens and rub it in.
- Step 5. Repeat the process until the yellow tint in your headlights fades.
- Step 6. Rinse your headlamp with warm water.
- Step 7. Dry your headlights completely.
The following materials are required for this project to work:
- Denatured alcohol (can be found at most paint and hardware stores)
- Bucket with water for rinsing
- Soft dry cloth for alcohol
- Another soft cloth for drying your headlamp
- Car wax and a soft cloth for buffing
Here is our superstar! This Pure Denatured Alcohol (paid link) was tested with a hydrometer to be 200 proof:
- Optional Step 8: Apply a coat of auto wax to further preserve the lenses. It should be applied in a circular motion with a clean, soft cloth, then buff out after a few minutes.
Let it shine!
7. Baking soda and lemon
There are two main techniques to cleaning your car headlights using lemon and baking soda:
You can directly apply the lemon and baking soda to the headlights:
- Step 1: Take a lemon and cut it in half.
- Step 2: Put some baking soda on it (on the cut part of the slice).
- Step 3: Scrub the headlights with this baking soda and lemon combo.
- Step 4: Leave for 5 minutes.
- Step 5: Rinse with clean water.
- Step 6: Repeat until satisfied and your headlights begin to sparkle.
You can make a lemon-soda mixture BEFORE applying it to the headlights:
- Step 1: Fill a small basin halfway with baking soda.
- Step 2: Squeeze the juice from a lemon into the bowl.
- Step 3: Thoroughly combine the lemon and baking soda until it becomes a paste
- Step 4: Apply the paste to the headlights in a circular motion.
- Step 5: Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes.
- Step 6: With a small coarse rag, rub the mixture into your headlamp
- Step 7: Rinse your headlight with clean water.
- Step 8: If you have car wax at hand, feel free to use it for a brighter appearance and protection.
Needed materials for this project:
- Baking soda
- Coarse rag
- Soft cloth
- Bucket of water
- Car wax
After cleaning the headlights, you’ll be astounded by how much dirt you were able to remove and how clear they now appear. Now is a good time to give your headlights a layer of wax to provide added protection from UV rays and oxidation.
You can repeat this technique every three months if necessary. Although the preceding home methods are effective in removing fading or foggy headlights, the results may only be temporary.
Cleaning your headlights is simple, and because you can clean them with household materials, you’ll almost certainly have something on hand at all times. If the lemon and baking soda, fail to clean your headlights, maybe it’s time to turn to a more serious cleaning (mentioned below) or change your headlamp.
How to use WD-40 to clean your headlights
Cleaning your headlights is not difficult and with household items that we usually have at hand, it can be very quickly done. Using specialized kits (that I will mention below), on the other hand, requires a bit more effort.
There is another way to clean your headlights, which is not very complicated. You can use WD-40 to get the haze and yellow stains out, so they will work properly again.
- Step 1: Clean your headlight with a clean rag to remove any dirt, dust, or grime that has accumulated.
- Step 2: Apply WD-40 Multi-Use Product on a clean cloth and be generous.
- Step 3: Wipe the headlight’s surface carefully with this cloth, making sure to cover the whole surface of the headlight.
- Step 4: Clean the headlights with a sponge and warm soapy water.
- Step 5: Dry the finished product.
Now, your headlights will be free of residue and ready to appropriately illuminate those dark nights ahead.
Materials needed for this project:
- WD-40 Multi-Use Product (with straw)
- Bucket of warm water
- Clean cloth for cleaning
- Towels or microfibre cloths for drying
Kits for restoring headlights
There are several options for restoring your headlights. You can try getting the grime out yourself (via the methods mentioned above) or try using one of the restoration kits for headlamps:
If nothing works, getting a new set of headlamps is always an option…
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