Cleaning Foggy Headlights at Home | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

Cleaning Foggy Headlights at Home

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An important part of driving in the winter is making sure that you have clean headlights. If you have foggy headlights, you don’t need to replace them just yet. There are techniques you can use to try and restore them to their original clear, bright condition. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of clear headlights year-round, and how to clean them yourself at home. 

The Dangers of Foggy Headlights

Did you know research from AAA has concluded that clouded or yellowed headlights only provide you with 20 percent of the amount of light that new, clean headlights do? This means foggy headlights can lead to dangerous evening and nighttime driving conditions. 

Headlights can become dull and fogged over overtime due to sunlight damage to the protective plastic coating that surrounds them. This sunlight damage considerably diminishes the headlights ability to provide adequate light when you are driving in the dark. About 50 percent of accidents happen when the sun goes down, which is why it’s vital that you check your headlights for signs of dulling and deterioration. 

Cleaning Foggy Headlights at Home

Having dulled headlights doesn’t automatically mean that you need to replace them, rather, there are things you can do to restore them. Not only will this save you money, but it will also help keep you safe on the road. If you want to try to clean your headlights yourself at home, follow these tips from Today

Use toothpaste

Yes, you read that right. If your headlights are only a little foggy, you can attempt to restore them by using an abrasive, like toothpaste. To try this method, first clean your headlights with soap and water. Then, using a soft cloth, rub a dime-sized amount of toothpaste onto the wet headlight. Tip: add baking soda to your toothpaste for more scrubbing power. From here, scrub your headlights, making sure the surface stays wet, and applying more toothpaste as you see fit. This could take a few minutes of scrubbing to see change. Once you’re done scrubbing, apply a sealant to protect the new coating. 

Use a DIY restoration kit 

There are restoration kits available to help you give new life to your headlights. When choosing a kit, look for one that includes sandpaper, a plastic cleaner and polish, polishing cloths, and a protective coating. It is important to note that one kit is usually enough to clean two headlights with. Some tips to keep in mind when using a kit like this are to:

  • Follow the package instructions — don’t improvise!
  • Not rush through it! Take your time. Depending on how foggy your headlights are, this process could take up to 20 minutes per headlight. You are cleaning off years of oxidation and the original protective coating, so it will take some work. 
  • Run your hands over the wet headlights. When you feel a rough spot, sand it down until smooth. 
  • Be careful not to scratch the car’s paint while you sand. Tip: tape off headlights to help with this (be warned, however, that on older cars the tape could remove the paint itself). 
  • Keep the headlights wet. Use a spray bottle or bucket of water or hose nearby to keep the headlight wet while sanding. 
  • Trust the kit. The headlights will look hazy after sanding, but after applying the coating they should become clear. 
  • Make sure the headlight is completely dry before applying the protective sealant. 
  • Give the sealant a few hours to dry, better to let it dry overnight, before driving your car again. 
  • Some kits will require a reapplication of the protective coating every 1-3 years, depending on the weather where you live and where you park your car normally. 

Make an Appointment at Scott’s Auto

If you don’t have time to try this yourself, or if you just don’t want to do it all alone, come get your headlights cleaned by our professional team at Scott’s Auto. If you have foggy headlights, make an appointment with us or just stop on by. We’re here for all your car’s needs! 


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