How to Clean Headlights with Toothpaste

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closeup of foggy headlight lense

Over time headlights will cloud and fog up from dirt and road grime as well as from oxidation of the headlight housing material. This can be extremely dangerous because it limits the light and visibility when driving at night. And since it happens slowly over time a car owner may not notice that their headlights are performing significantly worse than when their car was new. There are do it at home kits that can be purchased online or at auto part stores, or the car can be brought to a professional dealer who may offer headlight refreshing services. However, many owner’s don’t know that a car’s headlights can be cleaned and restored using toothpaste and other items you may have around the house. 

What You Need

  • Toothpaste – A type with baking powder is preferable because of its abrasive qualities
  • A Rag or towel – A clean shop rag or microfiber towel
  • Water

Step by Step Instructions: Clean Headlights with Toothpaste

  1. Apply a quarter sized dollop of toothpaste to the rag
  2. Firmly rub the headlight clean using small circular motions
  3. Apply more toothpaste as necessary
  4. Rinse the headlight housing with water
  5. Wipe the headlight again with a clean rag to remove any remaining toothpaste residue or grime
closeup of buffing a headlight lense

Clean Headlights with Toothpaste on the Inside

If you’ve done the above steps and still feel that the headlight housing needs further cleaning you may want to consider cleaning the inside of the headlight housing in the same way that you cleaned the outside. If the headlight housing was improperly sealed or has worn down over time you may find that grime and road materials have made it inside the headlight.

This will obviously require tools and more mechanical skill but should be possible for most car owners. 

The important part is knowing how to remove the headlight assembly and electrical components for your particular car. This is going to differ greatly depending on what make and model of car that you have.  Once the headlight assembly is removed and disassembled the cleaning process is exactly the same as the one used above for the outside of the headlights. After cleaning be sure to reassemble and reinstall the headlight carefully. Test to make sure that both the headlights and turn signals are working after completing the cleaning process.

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