How Can I Make My Headlights Crystal Clear Again?
With winter weather conditions right around the corner, now is the time to replace windshield wipers, keep vehicle maintenance up-to-date, and make sure your headlights are providing maximum visibility. And of course, each car headlight turns on! When you protect your car by being proactive you are also protecting yourself. But did you know hazy headlights can significantly reduce your visibility when driving at night or during winter and that can significantly reduce your personal safety while driving? This article will discuss the causes of foggy headlights, and some simple tips and tricks on how to clean your headlight
Let’s take a closer look at what causes foggy headlights, how to clean your headlight lenses, and learn why restoring headlights is so important to driver safety.
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Image courtesy of Bridgestone Tires
What Are Foggy Headlights?
Foggy headlights are the result of UV rays from the sun compromising the polycarbonate plastic that most headlights today are made from. In the past, a car headlight was manufactured with glass, but engineers discovered that a thick polycarbonate plastic made car headlights more durable and scratch resistant. Although polycarbonate plastic is widely recognized by safety experts as better than glass, it degrades from sun exposure, causing the lenses to absorb blue light and cause a more yellowish light to be emitted.
Over time, headlight lenses can crack, bulbs can stop working, or clean headlights can get foggy. Replacing a cracked headlight lens or a bulb that went out is a relatively simple DIY project, but what do you do when your headlight is fading and getting a yellowish, dingy tinge from foggy headlights? The answer is to clean foggy headlights using the toothpaste trick and microfiber towels.
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What Should I Use To Clean My Car Headlights?
If you are looking for an over-the-counter restorer kit for your headlight the first place to check is your local auto supply store. They should have a few options for products designed to clean fogged-up headlights due to UV exposure. If you are not comfortable shopping in an automotive supply shop, simply ask an employee for a “headlight lens restoration” or “headlight restoration kit” to clean your foggy headlights.
As depicted in the above how-to video, toothpaste and baking soda can be a very effective way to clean a cloudy headlight. The reason you can clean headlights with toothpaste or baking soda is that the products are abrasive enough to remove the cloudy portions of the polycarbonate plastic without causing damage to your headlights. However, we still recommend using a headlight cleaning product specifically designed to treat UV damage such as Rain-x or something similar that has solid online reviews.
How To Clean Cloudy Headlights (5 Easy Steps)
Before we begin walking you step-by-step through cleaning your headlights there are some items you will want to have ready in advance:
- Old rags or paper towels
- Soft-bristled brush
- Headlight restoration kit (or baking soda or toothpaste)
- If cleanser irritates your skin, consider latex gloves
Now that you have all the proper tools, let’s check out the 5 steps for restoring your headlights!
1. Clean The Headlight of Surface Debris
Use a spray bottle filled with a mild cleanser or dish soap on your foggy headlight to gently wipe away dead bugs, grit, gunk, dirt, and anything else in the area. Working with a clean workspace is important, especially if you are not familiar with tinkering with automobiles.
2. Dry The Headlight With A Towel
The last thing you want in your headlight is moisture, so the second step in cleaning your headlight is to wipe the surface area with an old rag, paper towel, or microfiber towel.
3. Begin Applying Headlight Restoration Kit To The Area
Aggressively apply whatever product you are using over the headlight lenses to restore the car headlight from UV damage. If you opted for baking soda, make sure you mixed it up with a little bit of water so the product is a thick paste. Let the toothpaste, headlight cleaner, or baking soda compound absorb onto the polycarbonate plastic for at least 3-5 minutes, allowing it to dry a little.
4. Use Brush To Remove Headlight Cleaner
As we learned from the Karate Kid, the best way to clean something is with a circular motion. The same thing applies to cleaning your headlights. In a circular motion, work your brush to gently remove the headlight cleaner. Keep in mind, that the product is naturally going to be abrasive so you don’t need to push it hard into the plastic headlight. Within a couple of minutes, you should notice the yellowish tinge and cloudiness of your headlight dissipate.
5. Finish Up Cleaning Excess Material
You are almost done! The last step is to use a soft cloth or towel to remove any excess cleanser from the car headlight. Use a little elbow grease to get off any stubborn, dried bits of product. Then use a spray bottle with clean water to finish off the area. Lastly, use a polishing cloth (or a clean towel if that is all you have) to dry the entire area. And guess what? You are done! Now, you should have increased visibility and whiter, brighter lights.
*You can also use UV sealant if you want an added layer of UV protection
What Is The Best Way To Clean Headlights On A Car?
Toothpaste, baking soda, or headlight restoration products can reverse the UV damage caused to polycarbonate plastic that is resulting in foggy headlights. Clean the area, apply the product, scrub off the cleanser using a soft brush, then dry the area to instantly get brighter, whiter car headlights!
Sage is a freelance writer with a background in information technology.
- How Can I Make My Headlights Crystal Clear Again?
- What Are Foggy Headlights?
- What Should I Use To Clean My Car Headlights?
- How To Clean Cloudy Headlights (5 Easy Steps)
- What Is The Best Way To Clean Headlights On A Car?