How to Clean Foggy and Cloudy Car Headlights
Since vehicle manufacturers made the widespread switch in the 1980s from easily broken glass headlights to ones made of polycarbonate or plastic, the problem of headlights becoming cloudy has arisen.
This is caused by oxidation, which naturally occurs over time–oxidized headlights aren’t necessarily the result of poor maintenance and happen to even the most conscientious of vehicle owners. UV light, road debris, and atmospheric chemicals are common culprits. This cloudiness decreases nighttime visibility and should therefore be periodically repaired. Fortunately, repairing oxidized headlights is often a job you can do yourself. A cloudy appearance on a polycarbonate or plastic lens isn’t necessarily the product of oxidation. Sometimes, built-up grit and grime can lend a hazy look to these surfaces. Give your headlights a thorough wash before making the decision to move forward with oxidized light repair.
Gather the correct materials
To clean your headlights using the toothpaste method, you will need the following: Car wax, Masking tape, Plastic or vinyl gloves (optional for those with sensitive skin), Soft cloth, Toothpaste (any kind), Water
Start by cleaning with soap
First wash with soap and water using firm, back-and-forth movements with the cloth or sponge, then rinse with plain water. After allowing some time to air dry, look at your headlights again closely.
Protect surrounding area with masking tape
Using masking tape, cover the areas surrounding your headlights to protect them from accidental scuffing.
Wear plastic or vinyl gloves if you have sensitive skin. Dampen a clean, soft cloth in water, and add a dab of toothpaste.
Use toothpaste-laden cloth
Firmly rub the surface of your headlights with the toothpaste-laden cloth in small circles. Add water and toothpaste as needed, and expect to spend up to five minutes cleaning each affected light.
Next, rinse with water and allow to air dry.
Apply car wax
To help protect your headlights from future damage, you may consider applying car wax to your lights using a clean cloth in a circular motion, followed by another rinse with water.
Soap, Baking Soda, and Vinegar
This is another household remedy that can restore your headlight’s luster. This probably won’t come as too much of a surprise for most people since baking soda and vinegar have been used as natural cleaner for decades on a variety of surfaces. Start off by mixing dishwashing detergent in a small amount of water. Dip a clean cloth into the mixture and use that to initially clean off the headlight. Next, pour some baking soda into a cup and add some vinegar. You’ll notice an immediate chemical reaction, but it’s completely safe. Using the same cloth or a new one, dip it into this new mixture and wipe off the lights. Next, use a clean cloth to wipe off the mixture from the lights. For an even better shine, add some car wax at the end
Droplets of moisture on the inside of headlights
Oxidation can occur both on the outside and inside of your lights (although it most commonly manifests on the outer and easy-to-reach portions). If you notice tiny droplets of moisture on the inside of your headlights, you will need to remove them for any attempts at repair to be effective. Treat the inside in the same manner you treat the outside. If any of these methods fail to reduce the haziness of your headlights you may need to seek professional services, such as those from YourMechanic, to fully diagnose why your headlights aren’t working.