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How to Clean Foggy Headlights

I have driven many cars in my lifetime, and one of the most annoying aspects of owning an older vehicle is the eventual dirtiness of your headlight lenses. Before we get to the best way to clean headlights, let’s talk about why this phenomenon happens in the first place.

Why Do Headlights Become Cloudy, Yellowed or Cloudy?

About a few years ago headlights for your car used to be encased in all glass, and the fogging or yellowing issues did not exist on a large scale.

Well the car manufacturers decided to find ways to reduce cost by the introducing polycarbonate plastic into the headlight assembly kit.

This uniquely made plastic is tempered and can be as hard as steel. But it has a flaw that makes it naturally porous after been exposed to the elements.

how to clean oxidized headlights

To help negate this obvious flaw, the designers of your cars headlight came up with the brilliant idea of using a protective film to cover the lens.

This has a tendency to wear off or fall apart due to the constant exposure to heat from the headlight bulbs and UV rays.

With the intensity of the sun and the power of all the harsh chemicals on our roads as you drive, it’s no surprise the film fading degradation occurs.

The last straw is the oxidization of the plastic, and that is what gives your automobile headlight that annoying foggy look.

Should You Be Worried about Your Foggy Headlights?

Definitely yes! Most people naively believe that the only issue with a yellowed or foggy headlight is because it looks bad. While this is right on point, there are many safety issues when you drive your car with not so bright headlight lens.

how to restore headlight lens


Due to the oxidization that occurred with the plastic in the headlight assembly, the light output from the perfectly okay internal bulbs becomes diffused.

Simply means, the beam from each headlight is less bright, and will only provide less reflection to a smaller area.

Due to the reduction of the coverage area as you drive you’ll see less, thus increasing your chances of running into something on the road, especially at night on the highway.

Guess what, recent studies of thousands of accidents that occurred at night, showed 9 out of 10 of the time, the vehicles had headlights problems. In a nutshell, it is in your best interest to get it fixed right away.

Best Way to Clean Headlights

First you have to determine if your headlights can be restored or not. Look closely to see if the fogginess is from the inside or outside.

A good test is to take a wet rag and clean a small portion of your headlight. If you see a little more brightness, then the cleaning procedure to restore your headlights will work for you.

On the other hand, if the oxidization is from the inside of the headlight assembly you might have to replace your entire headlight lamp assembly, which is not cheap to say the least.

But rest easy, the vast majority of headlight yellowing or fogginess can be restored with some simple steps outlined below.

If you find that you have no more funds to purchase best headlight restoration kit, the following method using your old reliable toothpaste might just do the trick.

Cleaning Headlights with Toothpaste

You need the following items before starting your headlight restoration process:

A tube of toothpaste

Old clean towels or rags

Clean water for rinsing

Simply squeeze a fair amount of toothpaste onto the clean towel and start rubbing it on your headlight. You can use circular or regular scrubbing motion; any type will get the job done.

Some people that have tested it swear by the power of applying circular motion. From my test, any type of motion will do wonders for your headlight.

With just the first application of the toothpaste with a rag, you’ll see a huge improvement in your headlight brightness.

You should use clean water to wipe off the dirty debris after each application. I will suggest you apply the toothpaste to your headlight at least three times to get the best results.

Will cleaning your headlight with toothpaste last longer?

Probably not as long as using a best headlight lens restorer kit. From my test, my headlight remained bright for at least three months.

I soon discovered that most headlight restorers contain sealants that helps to block the power of the UV rays and the road elements from making them hazy again.

So, if you want the toothpaste method to keep your headlights shining for many months, you’ll need to apply a coat of wax or sealant as a final step.

Also, you should try the cleaning headlights with toothpaste method using whitening toothpaste.

Final Thoughts

Your headlight would eventually get yellowed or foggy with time, due to the way it was designed and assembled.

Not only does a foggy headlight look bad, but it can be dangerous when driving at night. You should get it restored right away.

You can use toothpaste, rag, and water to shine your headlights to brightness by following the steps outlined above.

Better yet, you can get even more spectacular results by using a well-designed kit for cleaning yellow headlights. I found a bunch of them at good prices through the link below.