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Cleaning Foggy or Hazy Headlights

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!

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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.
  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.
  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.
  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.

By Deeli from Richland, WA

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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...

After photo.

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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.

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April 19, 2011

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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23 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.

August 18, 2011

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

Answers

August 18, 20110 found this helpful

Go to an auto parts store or Wal Mart and you can buy a product from 3M Co that will clean up the headlight lens. There may be other products that will also work. You can also check out google.com and type in headlight lens cleaners or words to that effect.

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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

Answers

By Scott (Guest Post)
September 13, 20040 found this helpful

Try using White Vinegar on a clean towel. Pour a good amount on the towel and wipe it into the window. After you wipe it in, Take another clean towel and wipe the vinegar off. This works. I have tried it many times before. After you are finished, you may want to leave your windows open so the smell of the vinegar will disappear

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By (Guest Post)
September 13, 20040 found this helpful

I had this problem also. Regular window cleaner did not completely take care of it, either. I went to an auto supply store and got some Armour (I think) car window spray cleaner (NOT the kind in a gallon jug you put in the reservoir) and it worked great! Eventually you have to clean it again, even if you are careful not to touch your windows, because of the outgassing of the materials that make up the interior of your car, along with normal dust and dirt.

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September 13, 20040 found this helpful

that haze is from the dashboard letting off gasses. I use to think it was from my hubby smoking. putting a shield over the window to keep the dashboard cooler in the summer might be helpful in not having to clean it so often. not sure as we moved to a cooler climate. Good luck!

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By Ann (Guest Post)
September 14, 20040 found this helpful

I read somewhere to rub a bar of soap over the inside of your car windows, and we tried that last fall and winter, and it did seem to work. of course, it does need to be re-done every few weeks.

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By Kim (Guest Post)
September 15, 20040 found this helpful

My grandfather (who was a lifetime mechanic) taught me how to keep my windows from fogging up. When you turn on your defogger, make sure you have it set on "outside air" or fresh air.. not the setting where the air is just recycling around the inside. And make sure it is set on warm..not too hot or cold.

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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.

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By Ray (Guest Post)
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.

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By Andy (Guest Post)
December 27, 20080 found this helpful

Hi folks, I bought a used 2002 Montana in December when it was very cold. Windows fogged up so much I couldn't see out the side windows at all. No smell of coolant. After spending many hours of investigation, I finally discovered the problem. In the back of the glove box there is a compartment which contains air filters. I removed the air filters and looking inside with a flashlight I saw in the very back, a little higher on the firewall, a plastic door which was shut. I gently opened it. Now fresh air gets in and NO more FOG. I hope I just saved you some time so you can spend it with your family. -Andy
amolter2002 AT yahoo.com.

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August 17, 2011

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

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What do you recommend for cleaning dingy auto headlights?


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February 4, 2012

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

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October 23, 2012

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

By Suzyn

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September 12, 2010

What can be done for interior cloudiness of headlight covers?

By Kacky from Wrightsville Beach, NC

Answers

September 12, 20100 found this helpful

3M makes a product to dress up the faded lens. It is available in Auto stores. You will sand the lens using products that come in the kit. You sand using an electric drill. If you go to google.com and type in "3M products to restore headlight lens" some sites will come up so you can see the product and read the step by step directions.

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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.

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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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February 16, 2014

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

By GG


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May 14, 2011

How do I make frosted headlights clear?

By Gail

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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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April 11, 2012

I have an '88 Mercury Cougar and my headlight covers are so bad, as far as being cloudy. I can no longer drive at night! I have looked and tried all the things I've heard and read about with no luck. Why if manufacturers make them for the cars, then why can't we buy them when something happens to them? Seems the car companies could stand to win in this situation!

By Lisa S. from Mt.Vernon, WA

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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.

By k.sowders

Answers

February 22, 20100 found this helpful

It may look foggy on the inside but I think it is on the outside. 3M Co. mades a product sold in automotive stores that will clean the outside of the lens. A little time consuming so check out what has to be done and the price of the product. Or you could check out salvage yards to see if they have the lens for your car that would be in good shape.

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February 25, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with foxrun - it is on the outside. The product that does the cleaning is actually an extremely mild abrasive that is applied and polished. You need to use the product from the automotive store, anything else is too harsh.

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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.

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