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Cleaning Foggy or Hazy Headlights

Category Auto
Headlight covers over time can become yellowed or hazy. This is a guide about cleaning foggy or hazy headlights.
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October 25, 20129 found this helpful

Someone was just asking about a remedy for yellowed dingy headlights so I thought I would share with everyone what ended up working for me. My car headlights were horribly yellowed after 12 years of ignoring them. I could barely even see when driving at night because that's how bad they were!

Headlight lens restoration kits are $20.00 or more and contain enough supplies for a one time only use. For about the same price you can purchase the items in larger quantity separately and will then have enough supplies leftover for future restorations, and even to use on other projects, plus you might already have some or all of the items needed already on hand to do the job.

Just follow these steps:

  1. Wash the lenses very well with soapy water, rinse and wipe dry.
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  3. Dip a corner of a rag in denatured alcohol (you can purchase it at paint stores and most hardware stores), rub it on the lens in a circular motion, repeat if necessary, until the lens loses at least the majority of the yellow coloration and then rinse.
  4. Quick soak a piece of 800 grit wet sandpaper in water, then sand the lens using small, circular motions until all yellowing is removed, then repeat using quick soaked 1,000 grit sandpaper and then again with quick soaked 2,000 grit sandpaper until lenses are smooth.
  5. It is a must to apply a coat of car wax afterwards to protect the lenses! Rub the wax on in a circular motion with a clean rag and then buff out after a couple of minutes.

By Deeli from Richland, WA

Comment Was this helpful? 9
October 31, 20120 found this helpful

Hey Deeli, I'm going to try this method on my head lights.

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August 28, 2012

Recently I noticed the headlights on both my car and especially my son's car were quite hazy, thus reducing visibility at night. I purchased a cleaning kit at the automotive store, (not cheap,) which involved several steps, but didn't notice much difference in clarity of the headlights on either car.

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Two weeks ago, I was washing the cars and decided to use one of those white scrubber sponges you see advertised on TV. (Not mentioning any names, as the generic type work just as well, and are a good deal cheaper.) It looks like a little brick, and cleans just about anything. I had used one to remove tar and bug residue from my car exterior before, so thought I might give it a try on the headlights while I was at it. What a great idea! It did a wonderful job on the headlights of both cars, and took just a few minutes. My car was parked in the shade, so these pictures don't do justice to the before and after difference, but trust me, the small investment you make will be well worth it!

By Donna from San Diego, CA

Comment Was this helpful? 6
August 30, 20120 found this helpful

I have used a 3M kit with great results. I doubt a scrubber sponge would work as well. Maybe you didn't follow the directions correctly.

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April 19, 20113 found this helpful

If your automotive headlights get yellow or dirty, try to clean them with some rubbing compound. Just make a past and rub it into the headlight plastic covers and then wipe off. They will come clear like new.

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0 found this helpful
February 25, 2014

If your headlights are already damaged as in you've used sandpaper and/or restorer and NOTHING is bringing them back from the fog, you can use baby oil on a paper towel and buff until clear after you wash them well.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
April 11, 2015

Does anyone have a DIY solution to cleaning the dirt and yellow off headlight covers on cars? Mine are just so bad!

By Mary P

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Answer Was this helpful? Yes
April 13, 20150 found this helpful

You could try coating it with hand sanitizer on a rag, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then rub off. Try a corner first, and if it works, do all the lights.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Anonymous
April 9, 20160 found this helpful

This is a two step process and its about as easy and cost saving as it can get. I started out with Turtle wax polishing compound (around 5.00 at walmart) ..Not the dark red rubbing compound, This is the white polishing compound which is still plenty enough abrasive to remove the oxidation and Yellow haze. Depending on the condition of the headlights, It may take awhile to to remove all of the funk. I used a soft cotton wash cloth to apply the polish and to polish the lens. Dip the cloth into the compound and apply in a circular motion. Fold the cloth so that you can cover as much surface as possible. Use enough so that it doesn't dry out while you're polishing the lense. after your finished, The lens will have a clear clean shine and you could just go with it at this point. But i took it a step further and used Meguires PasteX Plastic polish (arounf $7-8 at walmart. . I polished it with the PlasticX 5-7 times......... lightly rubbing the polish on the surface in circular strokes buffing it out with a soft dry cloth each time. By the time i was finished the lens literally looked like it did the day it was on the showroom floor! Brilliant shiny and super clear!. This is about as easy as i have seen it done. It will take some work. Remember that you are polishing with an abrasive and a mild solvent. So if you keep polishing any painted areas you can actually remove the paint. Just be mindful! I actually removed the lens from the vehicle. Not everyone can do that. If nothing else, tape the adjacent painted surfaces off to protect them. Or..just pay someone to do it. I recently saw where Maaco had it on their toke board at $40-50 per headlight. Good luck.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

February 16, 20140 found this helpful

What is the best and easiest way to clean the headlights on your car?

By GG

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 18, 20140 found this helpful

I haven't tried this myself, but read that a dull or dirty headlight/tail light can be cleaned with toothpaste. Slightly dampen a cleaning cloth (an old T-shirt will do!) Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste onto the cloth, and rub over the surface of the lens. Use a 2nd cloth to rinse the paste from the light lens. Wipe the light lens with a cloth or paper towel, or let air dry.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
March 9, 20140 found this helpful

My husband and I, cleaned the headlights on my car just last week, using the toothpaste idea. Just keep in mind that it must be a toothpaste that contains a whitener. Worked great and my car is almost 8 years old!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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August 18, 20110 found this helpful

Could a Brillo pad be used to remove the film and oxidation that is on the headlight lenses? I have used the toothpaste method and the baking soda method and neither helped.

By Gary

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
August 19, 20110 found this helpful

I had the same problem with my car. My brother used a buffer with a liquid cleanser on it. I would not recommend using a Brillo Pad, that would scratch it up and make it look even worse!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
August 19, 20110 found this helpful

If is on the inside why have companies made a product to restore the outside of the lens and not the inside of the lens.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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August 17, 20110 found this helpful

Could a Brillo pad be used to remove the film and oxidation that is on the lens? Also, I would not use much pressure, but the cloudiness seems to remain. I have used the toothpaste method and the baking soda method and neither helped. Thanks if you could answer this question.

By Gary

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
August 20, 20110 found this helpful

Use brake fluid on an old wash cloth just lightly dampen it and wipe only the plastic part of the headlight. I have used the kits and find they are hard to get off with out a buffer. Got this little tip from my husband.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
September 15, 20110 found this helpful

The cloudiness is caused by sun damage to the outer surface of the plastic lens which has to be removed. You could use 2000 grit, wet and dry paper auto cutting compound or auto cutting polish, and a bit of elbow grease will bring them up like new.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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October 23, 20120 found this helpful

How you do remedy the dingy yellow film on vehicle headlight lens?

By Suzyn

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
Anonymous
October 25, 20120 found this helpful

Headlight lens restoration kits are $20.00 or more and contain enough supplies for a one time only use. For about the same price you can purchase the items in larger quantity separately and will then have enough supplies leftover for future restorations, and even to use on other projects, plus you might already have some or all of the items needed already on hand to do the job.

Step 1: Wash the lenses very well with soapy water, rinse and wipe dry.

Step 2: Dip a corner of a rag in denatured alcohol (you can purchase it at paint stores and most hardware stores), rub it on the lens in a circular motion, repeat if necessary, until the lens loses at least the majority of the yellow coloration and then rinse.

Step 3: Quick soak a piece of 800 grit wet sandpaper in water, then sand the lens using small, circular motions until all yellowing is removed, then repeat using quick soaked 1,000 grit sandpaper and then again with quick soaked 2,000 grit sandpaper until lenses are smooth.

Step 4: It is a must to apply a coat of car wax afterwards to protect the lenses! Rub the wax on in a circular motion with a clean rag and then buff out after a couple of minutes.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 25, 20120 found this helpful

I didn't want to pay the $20 or more dollars for the restoration kit and just put up with it for months on end. Then one day my friend and I were discussing the issue and she said that she read a tip on another site that said to use 'Soft Scrub' bathroom cleaner. I had some under my sink and thought "what the heck, it can't hurt." I used it and it made a tremendous difference! It didn't remove all of the yellow, but I can now see at night again! Maybe if you do it once a month or so, it might take all the yellow out eventually, but I'm happy with what it did to my lenses.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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February 4, 20120 found this helpful

How do I clean automobile headlights? Mine are really stained. I know they have the kits, and the pros, thanks!

By Bella B from Houston, TX

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 5, 20120 found this helpful

My husband sprayed Pam on ours, then rubbed then with a soft clean cloth, and it cleared them up.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
February 5, 20120 found this helpful

The cloudy headlight is caused by oxidation and uv rays from the sun and a few other factors. Pam is not going to remove any oxidation. The best way is by abrasives that remove the oxidation and then polish. Oxidation of the lens is similar to oxidation of metal only that is called rust and Pam is not going to remove rust. It has to be abraded.

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0 found this helpful
October 27, 2014

How do you get hazed over looking headlights on a used car to look clear again? Thanks.

By Shirley

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
October 27, 20140 found this helpful

Call a business like Auto Zone to ask about a product that can clean the haze from car's head lamps.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

0 found this helpful
September 12, 2010

What can be done for interior cloudiness of headlight covers?

By Kacky from Wrightsville Beach, NC

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
September 15, 20100 found this helpful

For a small fee a body shop will polish the lens of your headlights and they will look like new. Any dust or film that is on the inside will be removed also.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
September 21, 20100 found this helpful

We tried a product from the auto store, kinda worked but not all the way clear. I suggest you go with Anna Parker.

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0 found this helpful
September 12, 2004

Does anyone else have a problem with the inside of your windshield fogging up? It almost looks like a haze. Turning on the defroster does not help. I've tried water and ammonia. That works for a few days, then it's back again. Maybe I put too much water or ammonia in the bottle.

TIA,
Angie

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
November 18, 20040 found this helpful

Did you check your heater core? If it's leaking it will put a haze all over your windshield that is hard to get off.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 13, 20080 found this helpful

Angie, Your not alone, I have a 07 Acura TL that I am meticulous about, I have tried every window cleaner on the market as well as making my own and still a day after cleaning my glass it looks like I cleaned with Crisco oil. I think this is caused by gases being released inside the car from the dash and upholstery. I'm checking this and other sites for a solution if I come up with one I will post it.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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May 14, 20110 found this helpful

How do I make frosted headlights clear?

By Gail

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
Anonymous
May 16, 20110 found this helpful

Whether you mean the plastic cover or the bulb itself I honestly don't think there is a way other than purchasing new that are already clear.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
May 16, 20110 found this helpful

Just a week or so ago I saw one of those infomercials advertising a new product that does just what you're asking for. SS but don't remember the name. It was something like clear lens. Perhaps you could try the "As seen On TV" web site. GL. After seeing it wish I'd paid more attention as my 97 Cadi lenses are getting cloudy!

Gale from Ca.

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0 found this helpful
March 24, 2014

What is a good, simple way to clean a car's headlights?

By Linda P.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
March 31, 20140 found this helpful

If your headlight covers are plastic, you could spend 10 or 20 bucks on a fancy headlight cleaner kit, but I've heard that toothpaste works just as well as the expensive kit. You probably shouldn't use a blue minty gel, I'm sure that won't work too well. *L* I'd use a white paste on a microfiber cloth and scrub away. Be sure to rinse well.

I have glass lenses on my old car, so soap and water works just fine.

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0 found this helpful
August 8, 2013

I tried toothpaste, the kits from the auto store and nothing helps! It's $1200 each to replace them do you think a deoxidizer will work?

By Anne

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
October 5, 20140 found this helpful

You should try using "OFF" bug spray (or anything similar with DEET in its composition). It sounds crazy, but it worked for me!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

0 found this helpful
February 28, 2015

My husband and I recently purchased a Turtle Wax headlight cleaning kit and cleaned them as directed and now our headlights have a foggy film on them. What's the best way to remove the film?

By Leanne D.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

0 found this helpful
February 22, 2010

Does anyone have any idea on how to get the fog off of the inside of headlights? I really don't want to buy new ones. The outside is clean, it's just the inside of them that is foggy. Thank you.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
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