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How to Clean Headlights — 5 Tips and Tricks

cleaning headlight

Many people are surprised to learn how dirty their headlights can get and how dim the light can be. We guarantee that once you give yours a good cleaning, you’ll do it much more often because it isn’t difficult and improves your vision and safety. Many people want to know the best way to clean their headlights. There are many DIY methods that you can use to improve your lighting, so keep reading to see what will work best for you.

car and road divider

Tips and Tricks for Clean Headlights

1. Toothpaste

Image By: Opal, Pixabay
Materials needed Toothpaste, water, clean cloths, masking tape

Toothpaste is a fantastic cleaner that you can use to scrub the lenses of your headlights, as well as many other parts of your car, like the rims. It’s mildly abrasive, so it helps remove caked-on dirt and grime, and it’s fantastic at removing dead bugs. If you are a messy worker, before you begin, you might want to use masking tape to cover the areas around your headlights where you don’t want toothpaste to get. Add a small amount of toothpaste to a clean and soft microfiber cloth, and carefully rub it on your headlights to clean the surface. Once it’s clean, wipe off the paste as best as possible, and use water in another clean cloth to remove it completely. Repeat as needed until all residue is gone.

2. Baking Soda

Image Credit: NatureFriend, Pixabay
Materials needed Baking, water, clean cloths, masking tape

A great product to clean your headlights that you likely already have at home is baking soda. Much like toothpaste, baking soda is mildly abrasive, so you can remove dirt and grime without scratching the glass surface of your headlight. We recommend mixing a small amount of baking soda with just enough water to create a thick paste. Put some on a clean microfiber cloth, and gently rub it on your headlight to clean the surface. Use masking tape to cover the surrounding area, so you don’t get it where you don’t need it.

3. Vinegar

Image Credit: evita-ochel, Pixabay
Materials needed White vinegar, water, clean cloths

Vinegar is a fantastic cleaner, and it’s a great choice for people worried about the abrasive nature of baking soda or toothpaste. However, it is a mild acid, so avoid getting it on your vehicle’s paint. You can use vinegar straight out of the jug or dilute it slightly with water. Put a small amount on a soft microfiber cloth, and use it to wipe the surface of the headlight clean. The good thing about this method is that if you don’t get the cloth too wet, you shouldn’t need to tape off the surrounding area, so it’s a little faster than using baking soda or toothpaste.

4. Window Cleaner

Cleaning spray
Image Credit: polina_tankilevitch, Pexels
Materials needed Window cleaner, clean cloths

An easy way to get your headlights clean is to use a commercial window cleaner like Windex. This product contains ammonia and other ingredients that are extremely effective at removing dirt and grime from glass, and they will get your headlights cleaned with little effort. Another advantage of window cleaner is that it’s easy to use and likely won’t require you to tape off the car. Apply some to a clean cloth and wipe your headlights clean.

5. Citrus Cleaner

citrus cleaner
Image Credit: felipequeiroz, Shutterstock
Materials needed Citrus cleaner, water, clean cloths

A concentrated citrus cleaner can be a fantastic way to clean your headlights. Citrus cleaners are quite potent and are often environmentally friendly, so they are ideal commercial cleaners. Put a small amount on a microfiber cloth to quickly remove dead bugs and caked-on grime from your headlights.

car and road divider

How Can I Keep My Headlights Clean?

The best way to keep your headlights clean is to maintain them frequently. Using a dry or damp cloth to wipe them down every few days is a great way to prevent dirt and grime buildup. Such materials are difficult to remove after being in the sun, especially during the high-temperature days of summer, so frequent maintenance is essential. Once you notice the buildup of dirt and grime occurring, it will be important to use one of the steps presented here to remove it.

Car headlight
Image Credit: wilkernet, Pixabay

How Can I Prevent My Headlights From Becoming Cloudy?

Regularly Inspect Seals

One of the main reasons that headlights can become foggy is that moisture is getting inside. Unfortunately, this is not a result of dirt but bad seals. We recommend having your vehicle looked at by a qualified mechanic if you suspect that moisture is causing a foggy headlight. Regularly inspecting seals around your headlight may alert you to any developing problems.

Wax Your Car

A common cause of foggy headlights is that there’s too much exposure to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Many older cars have cloudy headlights due to years of sitting in the sun, and it’s especially noticeable in vehicles that spend time in hot parking lots. One of the best ways to preserve clarity is to frequently apply a small amount of car wax to the headlights. It has the ingredients to protect your car’s paint from ultraviolet rays, and it will do the same for your headlights.

Park Your Vehicle in the Shade

While parking your vehicle near a tree can cause other problems, helping to reduce the amount of sunlight that hits your headlights will help them stay clear longer, so it’s best to choose a shady area to park in when possible; a garage is ideal.

garage interior with car
Image Credit: studiovin, Shutterstock

Use a Car Cover

If it’s not easy to find a shady area and you have no access to a garage, a car cover can be an inexpensive way to protect your headlights from dangerous ultraviolet rays, and it will also help protect the rest of your car.

car and road divider


Cleaning your car’s headlights is not difficult, and it can greatly improve your nighttime vision. Unfortunately, headlights can get dirty surprisingly quickly, especially if you live on a dirt road, so they need frequent maintenance. Fortunately, you won’t need any special tools or products to clean them. Ordinary vinegar or glass cleaners work best when there isn’t much dirt, and they make great regular cleaners. If you go on a long trip that causes more bugs than usual to end up on the headlights or you are spending time in the countryside, toothpaste and baking soda are the most effective ways to deal with dirty headlights.

Featured Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock


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