5 Ways To Clean Car Headlights Using Household Products

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Foggy headlights car take your car from showroom ready to a hazy mess. Using home remedies to bring them back to their original luster is quick and easy. The headlights are essentially the eyes of your car. You only have to imagine a hazy veil over your face to know that driving with foggy headlights is a nuisance at best and a safety hazard at worst. In the 1980s, car manufacturers replaced the easily broken glass headlights with polycarbonate or plastic versions. Unfortunately, while they are hardier than their predecessors, they are also prone to degradation from UV light, road debris, and atmospheric chemicals. 

How To Clean Car Headlights Using Household Products 1 1 5 Ways To Clean Car Headlights Using Household Products

Table of Contents

How do you clean foggy headlights using stuff around the house?

There are several ways to use home remedies to clean your headlights; they include:

  • White vinegar
  • Toothpaste and baking soda
  • Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Magic Eraser
  • Sandpaper
  • WD-40 lubricant

Restoring your headlights to their showroom luster is an easy do-it-yourself job that can be achieved in under an hour. Although headlight restoration kits are readily available, if you are pressed for time, money, or want an au natural fix, many home remedies will do the job. We will give you our best home remedies along with prevention tips below. 

Hazy headlights are nothing new, and many people have eschewed the pricey products in place of home remedies that have been tried and tested amongst car users. We have tried all the best home remedies, and here we list the ones that worked the most efficiently. 

Home Remedies For Cleaning Headlights

Why Do Car Headlights Turn Foggy

The predominant contributor to foggy headlights is a virtually unavoidable environmental hazard: UV rays. 

The primary cause for car headlights to become foggy is a chemical reaction between the plastic cover and the sun’s ultraviolet rays pounding down upon them day in and day out. This haze is a nuisance at best and a safety hazard at worst. 

A secondary player of car headlight haze is the dirt that becomes trapped in the plastic light housing. Accumulated direct particles will turn your headlight housing from crystal clear to a yellowish hue over time. 

Below we list the best do-it-yourself solutions as well as prevention to discourage yellowing foggy headlights. 

How To Clean Car Headlights Using Household Products 5 Ways To Clean Car Headlights Using Household Products

White Vinegar And Baking Soda

White vinegar is one of the best all-around solutions for do-it-yourself car maintenance. The naturally acidic nature of vinegar makes it a great solvent for dirt and grime. So not only is vinegar helpful in bringing your headlights back to crystal clear clarity, it is also useful in reducing water spots on windshields and taking grime off of the black trim areas of your car.

To use white vinegar and baking soda as a natural remedy to defog car headlights, you can follow these easy steps:

  1. To make a vinegar cleaning solution, mix three parts of water with one part of white vinegar. 
  2. Add to a spray bottle. 
  3. Spray the mixture over freshly washed headlights. 
  4. Allow the mixture to sit on the surface of the headlight for one minute, giving it time to break through the grime. 
  5. Wipe away the grime layer with a clean and dry microfiber cloth in circular motions. 
  6. If the yellowing remains, try mixing one part of the vinegar solution with one part of baking soda. 
  7. Spread that mixture evenly across the headlight and allow it to sit for an additional minute before wiping with a damp cloth. 
  8. Repeat drying with a microfiber cloth. 

Toothpaste + Baking Soda

Toothpaste is a low-grade abrasive and a natural refurbishing agent that should be in every do-it-yourself car maintenance arsenal. Just as it can remove plaque and stains from your teeth, it can also do so on your headlights. 

While toothpaste will not help the physical damage to a headlight, such as sandblasting or gravel impact, it can help to reduce the fogging and improve clarity. 

To use toothpaste and baking soda as a natural remedy to take the grime off of headlights, grab a toothbrush and follow these steps: 

  1. First, wash the headlight casing with automotive soap and air dry. 
  2. Use masking tape to protect the areas around the headlight to prevent them from getting accidentally scuffed. 
  3. Next, dampen a soft clean microfiber cloth with water and apply a dime-sized dab of toothpaste. 
  4. Buff in small circles. Expect to take 5-10 minutes on each headlight. 
  5. Rinse with water and allow them to air dry. 

Lemon Juice + Baking Soda

Lemon juice is as natural as it gets. Utilizing its natural acidic compounds to cut through grime is an easy and non-damaging method to bring clarity back to headlights. 

Combined with the gentle abrasiveness and dissolving power of baking soda, they make a powerful cleaning tool. Lemons and baking soda have powerful abrasive and whitening abilities that are perfect for restoring headlights. 

To use this combination, follow these steps:

  1. Squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon into a bowl.
  2. Add an equal portion of baking soda. 
  3. Mix to form a paste. 
  4. Apply the paste to the headlight casing using a soft cloth, allowing it to sit for five minutes. This will give the paste time to break down surface grime and oxidation. 
  5. Use a clean and dry microfiber cloth to remove the paste in small circular motions. 
  6. Wash and dry as usual. 

If you are in a time crunch or don’t have a bowl, you can speed up the process. Cut the lemon in half, sprinkle baking soda on the tub, and rub the cut lemon with baking soda directly onto the headlight. After scrubbing, leave for five minutes and finish as above.

Sandpaper And Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is something lying around most garages and first aid kits. Combined with sandpaper, they make a great duo to tackle oxidized headlights. 

This method requires time, patience, and a little more effort than the above natural solutions but might very well yield the best results and shave away more grime from the headlights in the process.

For this home remedy to clean a foggy headlight, you will need; masking tape, rubbing alcohol, 800 and 1600 grit sandpaper, water, and a microfiber cloth. Follow these steps for best results:

  1. Wash and dry headlights as usual. 
  2. Tape around the headlight casing.
  3. Add a small amount of water to 800 grit sandpaper and work in a circular motion around the surface, followed by a horizontal motion. Do this gently.  
  4. Repeat the same process with a finer 1600 grit sandpaper. 
  5. Add a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a microfiber cloth and wipe clean. 

You can finish off this process with a toothpaste buff as described above or a specialized headlight polish. 

If The Natural Route Does Not Help

If taking the natural route to clarify and refurbish your headlights did not yield the intended effect, it is possible you need to look at a professional compound polishing kit. Likewise, extensive wear and tear might need a professional kit to resurface oxidized headlights to a factory finish clarity. 

It is also possible that oxidation has affected the inside of the headlight casing, in which case an additional step to remove the case and clean the inside might need to be taken. This might be the case if you notice tiny droplets of water inside the casing that must be addressed before getting clarity restored completely. 

You can try to treat the inside of the headlight with the same remedies listed above to reduce grime, oxidation, and haziness. 

Maintenance and Prevention

As with all car maintenance, prevention is the quickest and most cost-effective way to avoid restoration projects. Creating a barrier between the original headlight and UV rays will act as long-term protection and save you from restoration projects down the line. 

Weekly Cleaning

Maintenance only requires rinsing each headlight with an automotive soap weekly, air drying, and buffing with a clean, dry cloth. This will remove regular build-up from dirt and grime. Polishing well with a microfibre cloth will discourage the build-up and reduce the yellowing signs of aging. 


Detailers often finish a body restoration with waxing, and headlights can benefit from the same care. In addition, the clear coat acts as a repellent to surface damage and will also offer UV protection. 

To do this, apply a thin layer of carnauba wax after regular washing. Not only will this prevent degradation of the headlight housing, but it also offers long-term clarity making for a safer drive. 

Car Headlight FIlm

Another option to create a barrier between the headlight and degradation, such as sandblasting or gravel impact over time, is to apply a car headlight film. Car owners can easily purchase pre-cut films for a specific model or a universal sheet for custom installation. 

The kits often come with the specialized tools needed to complete the job and are available in different tint colors. 

Lamin-X Protective Films offers both customized kits as well as universal sheets to help repel damage to your headlight housing. 

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