How to Clean Cloudy or Foggy Headlights

How to Clean Cloudy or Foggy Headlights

25th Sep 2019

car headlight

Clean Headlights

Does your vehicle have cloudy or foggy headlights? Over time, it's not uncommon for headlights to lose their once-crystal-clear luster. Even if your vehicle originally had clear headlights, they may become cloudy or foggy later down the road. Before investing in a new pair of replacement headlights, however, you should try to clean them. With a little work, you can restore your vehicle's headlights back to their clear and original appearance.

Why Do Headlights Become Cloudy or Foggy?

Headlights typically become cloudy or foggy from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) sunlight. Although there are exceptions, most headlights -- the actual housing, not the bulbs -- are made of acrylic. When acrylic is exposed to UV sunlight, it undergoes a chemical reaction known as oxidation.

As the headlights oxidize, they develop a layer of hard and yellow material over the surface. In turn, the headlights look cloudy or foggy. If left unaddressed, the problem will only become worse. Eventually, it can affect the amount of visible light produced by your headlights. Thankfully, though, you can typically treat cloudy or foggy headlights without replacing them.

Clean Your Headlights Using Toothpaste

It may sound unusual, but toothpaste can fix cloudy or foggy headlights. It contains natural whitening compounds, as well as an abrasive texture, that's able to remove the oxidized layer of acrylic over your vehicle's headlights.

First and foremost, you should clean your headlights using an ammonia-based glass cleaner. Once clean, squeeze a generous amount of toothpaste over the headlights, at which point you can brush it with an old toothpaste. Continue brushing your headlights for five to 10 minutes. When finished, rinse off any remaining toothpaste. Assuming you followed these steps correctly, your headlights should now be clear.

It's important to note that this method only works if the cloudiness is isolated to the exterior of your vehicle's headlights. Normally, headlights become cloudy or foggy because of oxidation on the exterior. In some cases, though, moisture may breach the headlights, causing them to become cloudy or foggy inside.

Use a Headlight Restoration Kit

You might be surprised to learn that there are products available designed specifically for cleaning cloudy or foggy headlights. Known as headlight restoration kits, they contain everything you need to restore your vehicle's headlights back to their clear and original appearance. Although they typically cost more than a tube of toothpaste, headlight restoration kits are highly effective at restoring cloudy or foggy headlights back to their original appearance.