How to Clean Foggy Headlights

You may have noticed your once sparkling headlights have developed a cloudy appearance. It is not anything you have done or neglected to do with your routine maintenance. Back in the 80’s car manufacturers addressed the issue of easily broken glass light lenses by replacing them with durable plastic ones. While this fixed the breaking issue, it opened up another. Your headlights are susceptible to oxidization caused by UV lights, debris from off the road, and chemicals. The oxidation collects on your lenses and causes them to cloud which can greatly reduce your visibility. Luckily learning how to clean foggy headlights is an easy task.

This article will give you how to clean foggy headlights using a few different easy at home methods.

Method 1: Toothpaste

Things You Will Need

  • Dish Soap;
  • Car Wax;
  • Masking Tape;
  • Rubber Gloves;
  • Soft Shop Cloth;
  • Whitening Toothpaste;
  • Water;
  • Bucket.

How to Do It

This method uses the abrasive quality used in toothpaste to gently scrub away the oxidization on your headlights.

  1. Gather all the essential supplies to help expedite the process of how to clean foggy headlights. This will ensure the steps go smoothly and efficiently.
  2. Fill your bucket with lukewarm water. Take the dish soap and a wet shop cloth to create lather. Use the soapy cloth to scrub the headlights. Once you have given the headlights a good, hard scrub, rinse them off with the clean, warm water in your bucket. Allow the lenses to completely air dry.
  3. Use the masking tape to cover the area around each headlight. This will help protect your paint or chrome from any accidental scratches and scuffs as you scrub.
  4. For the next steps of the how to clean cloudy headlights process, you will want to wear the rubber gloves, particularly if you have sensitive skin.
  5. Place a generous amount of toothpaste onto a damp shop cloth. Then using a firm circular motion, rub down your headlight lenses. Add more water and toothpaste as needed. Take your time and spend at least 5 minutes on each lens.
  6. Once you have spent ample time scrubbing each lens, use clean water to thoroughly rinse the toothpaste away. Allow them to air dry completely.
  7. Finally, dab some car wax on a clean, dry, soft shop cloth. Apply it to your lenses making small circles as you rub. This will help protect your headlights from further oxidization. When complete, give your lenses a final rinse.

Method 2: Glass Cleaner

Things You Will Need

  • Glass Cleaner;
  • Car Polish;
  • Car Wax;
  • Masking Tape;
  • Rubber Gloves;
  • Buffer;
  • Soft Shop Cloths;
  • Bucket;
  • Water.

How to Do It

Similarly to method 1, method 2 of how to clean foggy headlights uses car polish which is slightly abrasive and will scrub away the oxidization. Glass cleaner is a great way to prepare the surface to ensure the lenses are debris free before applying any abrasive material.

  1. Collect all your supplies to help the process go smoothly.
  2. Mask off the areas around your headlights using the masking tape in order to protect surrounding paint and chrome from accidental scuffing.
  3. Use the protective rubber gloves to protect your skin from the cleaning agents.
  4. Using the glass cleaner, spray the lenses generously to thoroughly wash away dirt and debris. Wipe them clean and dry using a soft, dry, shop cloth.
  5. On another shop cloth, apply a generous amount of car polish to the surface of the headlights. Use heavy pressure in a circular motion so that the abrasiveness of the polish can get to work. You can use the buffer to speed up the process; otherwise, expect to spend five minutes or more scrubbing each lens.The last step to this how to clean foggy headlights method is to completely rinse the polish away and allow the lenses to dry. You can apply car wax just like in the first method, to help deter future oxidization from occurring.

Method 3: Polishing Kit

Things You Will Need

  • Car Headlight Cleaning Kit;
  • Water;
  • Shop Cloths;
  • Protective Gloves;
  • Masking Tape;
  • Sandpaper;
  • Soap.

How to Do It

Commercial kits for removing oxidization on your headlights are available on the market for your convenience. These are particularly useful because they often include all the items you will need to perform this task. Though some other kits will only include an abrasive cleaner, it is still handy since the cleaner is specifically meant to be used for this particular task and therefore works very efficiently. Be sure to follow the included directions and mind the safety warnings. This is a general outline of how to clean foggy headlights using a commercial kit.

  1. Read the box the kit comes in to see if you need any supplies. Some supplies you may need in addition to the kit are included in the bullet list above. Collect all the necessary supplies, if needed.
  2. Protect the areas surrounding your headlights by masking if off with the masking tape. The material in the cleansing compound is abrasive and can scuff paint and metal as you scrub.
  3. Use the soap included in the kit, or a mild household soap if it did not, with a damp cloth to thoroughly wash existing the dirt and debris from your headlights.
  4. Rinse with clean water.
  5. Using a clean shop cloth, apply the polishing compound with small, circular motions. Again, allow yourself at least five minutes of scrubbing to each lens.
  6. Take the finest grit sandpaper and lightly wet it. Then use it to rub each lens using a back and forth motion. Do not allow the paper to dry. Repeat with the other pieces of sandpaper gradually increasing to the highest grit count.
  7. Rinse thoroughly and apply car wax or included sealant for added protection.


If your headlights have become cloudy over time, do not fear! Cleaning the oxidization from your lenses is an easy task to learn. You can learn how to clean foggy headlights at home using some household items or a commercial kit to get your lenses clean and clear and improve your visibility when driving at night.

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