DIY

How to Clean Hazy Headlights with Household Products

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you ever wondered why your headlights haze or even turn yellow over time? Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with the quality of your headlights but more on the material used. Plastic headlights replaced glass headlights due to the cheaper cost of manufacturing. Unfortunately chemicals used to make the plastic react with oxygen, sunlight, UV rays, high temperatures, and moisture. This reaction makes the headlight lenses hazy or oxidized over time.

Due to chemical reaction, plastic headlights become hazy or oxidized over time.

Headlight Restoration DIY

Professional detailers charge roughly $75-$150 to restore headlights. They claim to restore your headlights permanently, but this should be taken with a grain of salt. Replacing the entire headlight assembly will roughly cost $200-$700 depending on the make, model, and year of your car. This price is also exclusive of labor costs to install them.

To clean plastic headlights you would need an abrasive to lightly scrape off the oxidized layer. Professional detailers use wet sanding methods with various sandpaper grits along with polishers to get the desired clarity from the lens. If you’d like to try doing it yourself, you can use these regular household products to save yourself some money. Although the results are temporary, they’re definitely a great quick-fix until you can afford to get new headlights.

Baking Soda

  1. Wash the headlight lens with soap and water.
  2. Mix baking soda and water.
    (There is no specified solution mixture. Make sure to have more baking soda than water. When mixed together you should have a paste like substance.)
  3. Take a dry rag and rub the baking soda solution to the headlight lens
  4. Keep rubbing in a cross hatch pattern while generously applying the baking soda solution.
  5. Wash off the baking soda solution to reveal the results. Repeat till desired clarity is achieved.

WD40

  1. Wash the headlight lens with soap and water.
  2. Shake a can of WD40 or any silicone based lubricant and spray it onto the whole headlight lens.
  3. Wipe off with a clean rag.
WD40 is a known remedy for yellowed headlights.

Bug Spray with Deet

  1. Wash the headlight lens with soap and water.
  2. Shake the can of bug spray with deet and spray it onto a paper towel.
    (DO NOT spray the bug spray onto the headlight lens directly. Deet can melt away rubber seals and plastic body trimmings.)
  3. Rub the paper towel with bug spray all over the headlight lens.

Toothpaste

Toothpaste is one of the most popular headlight cleaning ideas online. Read our full tutorial on how to clean your headlights with toothpaste to try this easy and inexpensive hack.

The whitening properties of toothpaste help remove haziness on headlight lenses.

Remember, these are temporary fixes to a problem that will recur again. The WD40 and the bug spray may only last until your next car wash.

The baking soda and toothpaste both work because of their abrasive properties, which work by scraping off the oxidized layer of plastic. However, they both take time and lots of elbow grease. You may also want to protect the headlight lens with wax after you’ve used baking soda or toothpaste to give it a lasting effect.

There are many videos online showing how easy it is to restore headlights by wet sanding. Keep in mind that you should be careful with these videos because they can also cause more damage when not executed properly. Consider purchasing a headlight restoring kit from your local hardware or from an online automotive parts store for roughly $15-$20. These kits come complete with instructions which need to be strictly followed. If you’re not willing to spend money on purchasing a new set of headlights, then consider getting a detailer to restore them.

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