Project Guide

How to Clean Headlights

Use Toothpase
Toothpaste being squeezed from the tube

Toothpaste is a great alternative to traditional car detailing supplies. It’s mildly abrasive, making it an excellent solution for cleaning headlights that are starting to look dim or foggy. Set aside about five minutes per light when using this DIY headlight restoration method.

What you’ll need:

Car wash soap

Masking tape

Disposable gloves

Car washing cloths


Car wax

  • Step 1: Clean your headlights thoroughly with your regular car washing supplies. Allow them to air dry for a few minutes before you move to step two.
  • Step 2: Cover the areas around your headlights with masking tape. This will help protect your paint and plastic parts from the mildly abrasive and drying toothpaste.
  • Step 3: Wear disposable gloves and add a dab of toothpaste to a damp cleaning cloth. Rub each headlight firmly, adding toothpaste and small amounts of water as you go. Spend about five minutes on each light to obtain the desired effect.
  • Step 4: Rinse each headlight with clean water. Allow them to air dry before buffing each headlight with a second clean cloth.
  • Step 5: Apply a small amount of car wax to your headlights. This will help protect your headlights and keep them looking clear longer.
Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
Vinegar and baking soda on a table

Similar to the toothpaste method illustrated above, baking soda and vinegar is a great DIY option for restoring headlights. The homemade solution works best on oxidized or very cloudy headlights. Here’s how to clean foggy headlights using this method.

What you’ll need:

Clean microfiber cloths

Car wash soap

Distilled white vinegar

Box baking soda

Clean container

  • Step 1: Clean your headlights with a clean cloth, car wash soap and water. Allow them to air dry for a few minutes before moving to step two.
  • Step 2: Mix two parts distilled white vinegar with one part baking soda in a clean container. Stir or shake the mixture to combine. 
  • Step 3: Dip a microfiber cleaning cloth in the white vinegar and baking soda mixture. Rub it onto each headlight, spending a few minutes on each one. Add more of the cleaning mixture as you go if needed.
  • Step 4: Rinse your headlights with clean water and allow them to air dry. Repeat step three if necessary, always rinsing your headlights after each application of the vinegar and baking soda mixture.

Foggy, oxidized or otherwise yellowed headlights make your car look old and warn. Those headlights are also a safety hazard on dark nights and difficult roads with dim streetlights. Use the cleaning methods above for restoring headlights and say goodbye to dull, dim light beams on any type of vehicle. This will save a considerable amount of time and money compared to having replacements parts installed.