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Best Ways to Clean Car Headlights and How to Do Them

Unfortunately, it might be a little tricky to figure out which method is best used for cleaning your headlights.

Which is why today, we will be listing down some of the best ways to clean car headlights as well as a mini guide on how to do them. After all, it is easier to maintain than to repair.

best ways to clean car headlights

A hazy pair of headlights can cause as many accidents as broken brakes or clutches. This is why it is important to keep your lights in top condition, just like any other parts of an automotive.

Best Ways to Clean Car Headlights

#1 Toothpaste

The first method would be, cleaning your headlights with toothpaste. Toothpaste is known to have substances that remove cavities and other unwanted particles from the enamel of your teeth.

This is due to its mild abrasive content that polishes or “buffs” out any surface.


This is also why it is possible to smoothen out and clean your headlights with toothpaste. All you have to do is start cleaning your headlights first with some soap and sponge or cloth.

Then, rinse it off with fresh water. Allow it to air dry for a couple of minutes first before proceeding to the next step.

Now, before you do the “toothpaste” method, cover the surrounding areas first with a masking tape. This is to make sure that your headlights are the only ones that are going to get scuffed with toothpaste.

washing with a cloth

After doing this, you may now apply some toothpaste on the damp cloth you will be using to clean your headlights with. Gently rub the lights’ surface in circular motions for a good 3 to 5 minutes until clean.

Again, rinse and allow to air dry before inspecting.

#2 Glass Cleaner and Automotive Polish

Second, is using a glass cleaner and an automotive polish. Glass cleaners and automotive polishes are usually and easily available at your local auto parts and hardware stores.

glass cleaner

The glass cleaner is what prepares the surface for polishing, and the polish is what buffs out your car headlights’ surface. Similar to the first method, you will have to protect the surrounding area first with masking tape before anything else.

This is what will keep you from scratching or scraping off any part of your paint job. Then, spray a generous amount of glass cleaner on the surface of your headlights. Wipe off the surface using a clean cloth.

Learn more about how to use a rubbing compound to get rid of car scratches here.

Finally, apply some polisher on another piece of clean cloth and rub with a circular motion for a good five minutes on each headlight. Don’t be afraid to add some more polish if needed.

polishes optics of headlights

However, if you do want to speed up the whole process, you can use a buffer. Again, similar to the first method, do not forget to rinse with clean water after and to apply car wax.

The car wax will serve as a protectant from future oxidation, damages or whatsoever.

#3 Polishing Compound Kit (Sandpaper)

Finally, using a polishing compound kit or the sandpaper method. This method works best for headlights that are more heavily oxidized. It can also be used as a last resort if all two approaches listed above fail to improve your headlights’ condition.

polishing the red car

These polishing compound kits are usually available at your local auto parts stores. Again, before anything else, make sure to cover the surrounding area of your headlights are covered with masking tape to avoid scratching the paint job.

Using a damp clean cloth, wash your headlights with a mild soap or detergent (also available in the kit) the rinse with fresh water. After doing this, you can now apply some polishing compound using a clean cloth.

Take your time polishing the headlights in a circular motion for a good five minutes or so. This will give the polishing compound enough time to do its job.

Finally, use the coarsest sandpaper available in the kit (the one with the smallest grit number) and wet it with cool/cold water.


This reduces any unwanted friction that might only damage the surface of your headlights.

Dip the sandpaper in water from time to time to make sure that it is thoroughly wet. Repeat the same process but with different varieties of sandpaper.

Last but not the least, rinse off the polishing compound using clean water and apply wax or sealant to give your headlights more protection.

using high pressure water

Do not be afraid to remove your headlights completely to clean the insides. Remember, it is still possible to accumulate oxidation in both sides of your headlights (inside and outside).

Only repeat the processes of any of the three methods listed above with the insides of your headlights. Treat the inside just as you would treat the outside. However, again, be careful not to scratch your paint job.

And most importantly, do not skip out on any of the steps as they will ensure the condition of your headlights after the whole process. This is especially important for the applying protectant step.

Remember, your car headlights will need as much protection as it can get, especially after the cleaning process. This will keep scratches or haziness from recurring all over again easily.

At the End of the Day

At the end of the day, if you do not treat your headlights with care, they will become hazy again in a few weeks’ time despite regularly cleaning them.

More importantly, we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to apply UV protectant/sealant on them after each cleaning process.

This is most especially needed if you are sanding your headlights as a cleaning method. But if none of the listed methods help improve your hazy headlights, you might have to check with professionals to get a full diagnosis and possible causes of the problem.