The Best Ways To Clean Oxidized Headlights


Why Do Headlights Get Yellow or Foggy?

Car headlights can yellow or fog up over time for several reasons. Their covering is made from plastic material—such as polycarbonate. If this substance is not sealed properly, then the debris from driving through dust, rocks, pebbles, and dirt will scratch up your headlights and create tiny chips and cracks. These new openings allow grime to enter and build up over time, ruining the quality of your sealant and impeding your headlights’ ability to shine.

Another way the sealant of your headlights gets stripped is through the combined corrosive force of outdoor elements such as solar UV radiation, acid rain, and asphalt petrochemicals.

You're reading: The Best Ways To Clean Oxidized Headlights

Why Are Clean Headlights Important?

Pay attention to the output of your headlights. Is it bright, yellowed, or clouded? Cloudiness or yellowishness in your front lights can lower or redirect what’s being emitted.

If this is the case, then you are putting yourself and other drivers at risk for visibility-related accidents. No matter the time of day or season you’re in, your headlight lenses need to be well-maintained to prevent this. A little proactive effort now goes a long way; you may not even have to call automotive professionals with all the great DIY methods available to you on how to clean oxidized headlights!

How to Clean Foggy Headlights

Lucky for you, the process of how to clean oxidized headlights or how to clean foggy headlights doesn’t need much more than some items you can find around the house.


If you try out all of CleanTools suggested cleaning methods below, and your headlights still aren’t producing enough light, then you will probably need to take your car into an automotive repair shop for a professional cleaning or repair service.

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How to Clean Headlights With Toothpaste

Toothpaste can make for effective headlight restoration because its formula contains tiny amounts of abrasive substances that will cut through stuck-on grime, road particulates, and the effects of oxidation. 

You’ll prepare for your car headlight cleaning by taping around the edges of your car headlights to protect the car’s paint job. You can also tape up plastic sheets around them if you prefer to use less tape, as the sticky adhesive can damage your car paint if left on for too long.



Next, fill up a bucket of water, pour out a generous amount of toothpaste onto our Premium Wash Mitt, and follow that up with some water to loosen the consistency. Scrub away at your headlight, rinsing the dirt off your mitt and reapplying toothpaste as needed. Repeat this process until all the grit comes off your headlights and they’ve cleared up. Finish off by thoroughly rinsing off any toothpaste residue, drying the cleaned area with The Absorber®, and gently removing your protective tape.

How to Clean Headlights With Vinegar

Vinegar itself is a great cleaning solution, but when it’s coupled with baking soda, it produces a chemical reaction powerful enough to strip away hard-to-clean headlight oxidation and dirt build-up.

Prepare for your headlight restoration job by taping protective sheeting around the edges of your car headlights so the paint stays intact

Mix car shampoo (or liquid dish soap) with water onto your CleanTools premium wash mitt until it foams for an initial wipe down of the headlight surface. Then, some mix baking soda and vinegar together in a small bucket; you should see them react with one another instantly. 

Scoop some of the vinegar and baking soda mixture onto your mitt and begin (fairly effortlessly!) wiping at the headlights again. Now you’ll be all set to hit the road with bright guiding lights once you rinse any remnants off your headlights, dry it off with the Absorber®, and gently remove the tape off your car.

How to Clean Headlights With WD-40

The Best Ways To Clean Oxidized Headlights

If you want a quick fix for how to clean oxidized headlights, then the WD-40 product is a great option. However, it might not prove to be a suitable long-lasting solution for headlight restoration.

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Prep your car for headlight defogging by protectively tapping off the area around your front lights. Mix a bucket of water with car shampoo (or liquid dish soap) and use our premium wash mitt to clean and ready the surface for the WD-40 lubricant. 

Shake the can of WD-40 and spray the product onto the headlight lens, avoiding hitting unprotected car areas. Then, carefully but thoroughly wash off the lubricant with another clean wash mitt or rag with the bucket solution. Once all the oil has been removed, try it off with the CleanTools Absorber® and remove the tape (without spreading any lubricant left on top of it).

Use WD-40 sparingly: relying on this oil product too often could blur or burn out the bulb of your headlights, so be sure you wash it off completely every time it’s used.

Tools You’ll Need

In addition to purchasing an at-home headlight restoration kit or booking a professional cleaning, CleanTools has listed several DIY processes you can take to maintain the high visibility of your headlights for maximum safety on the road. 

Based on the descriptions in the above section, we’ve compiled a list of the products you’ll need to get this job done right, depending on your choice of cleaning method:

  • Toothpaste (containing abrasives)
  • Vinegar and baking soda
  • WD-40 spray
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Tape
  • Plastic Sheeting

CleanTools has two products that pair together perfectly for all your car wash needs. Our Premium Wash Mitt , made from a wool, polyester, and nylon blend, can hold more water longer to keep your hand on your car and instead of in your bucket. We recommend you keep a separate mitt for different surfaces of your car so you can avoid transferring abrasive particles from one area to another.



Our high-quality, dependable, and gentle mitt can be followed up by The Absorber®. This incredible drying product is made of Poly Vinyl Alcohol (PVA). It has the unmatched ability to dry your car in noticeably fewer wipes!

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Category: Headlights