Clean headlights are a must. Whether it’s a rainy day or you’re driving down the back roads, you want the road ahead to be as clear as possible. If your headlights are cloudy or dirty, then look no further than this helpful guide.

Cleaning your headlights is a pretty easy task if you have the right tools. With painter’s tape, clean cloths, and a bit of elbow grease, your foggy headlights can look brand new in a few short steps. Cleaning your headlights removes grime and UV ray damage. Clean headlights also increase the brightness of your headlamps, which helps with visibility while driving.

How To Clean Headlights

This DIY car maintenance task can be quick and easy for any automotive expert or novice. We’ve compiled all the steps necessary to get the cleanest headlights in no time with various household products or a high-quality restoration kit. Our team has done the research so you can follow along with this guide to properly clean your cloudy headlights.

Headlight Restoration Kits

A collection of headlight restoration kits.

Headlight restoration kits are complete cleaning kits that can turn your car’s headlight lenses from foggy to new in a matter of minutes. Restoration kits vary to some extent in terms of what’s included and the steps to follow to get the best results. If you want a one-stop solution for your cleaning needs, check out our roundup of headlight restoration kits.


A simple DIY solution to clean your foggy headlights is toothpaste. The slightly abrasive toothpaste formula cleans off residue and buildup to make your headlights good as new. One of the easiest cleaning hacks, you only need a few materials to start cleaning and brighten your headlamps in no time.

What You Need

  • Car wash soap
  • Painter’s tape
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Toothpaste
  • Car wax

Step-By-Step Cleaning

  • Step 1: Before you begin, use some regular car wash soap to quickly clean your headlights, having them air dry for a few minutes.
  • Step 2: Grab some painter’s tape and cover the area around your headlights to protect your car’s paint and plastic from the abrasive toothpaste formula.
  • Step 3: Add a small amount of toothpaste to a clean cloth or microfiber towel. Scrub each headlight in circular motions, adding toothpaste and small amounts of water as you continue cleaning. You will need to scrub for about five minutes per headlight to get the right results.
  • Step 4: Next, start rinsing each headlight with warm water and a damp cloth. Let them air dry before wiping and buffing them with a new clean cloth.
  • Step 5: If desired and you have car wax handy, apply a small amount to your headlights to protect them and keep them cleaner for a longer amount of time.

Baking Soda And White Vinegar

One of the simplest cleaning solutions for foggy headlights is a combination of baking soda and white vinegar. This cleaning method dissolves and gets rid of any dirt, debris, and buildup. Vinegar works most effectively on very cloudy plastic headlights. As an added bonus, vinegar is an environmentally friendly cleaner.

What You Need

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Car wash soap
  • Soft cloths
  • Empty container

Step-By-Step Cleaning

  • Step 1: First, grab a clean cloth, car wash soap, and warm water to wash your headlights before using the baking soda and vinegar combination.
  • Step 2: Mix two parts white vinegar and one part baking soda in a clean container or spray bottle. Combine the mixture by either stirring or shaking the container.
  • Step 3: Spray or pour the formula on a cleaning cloth and rub it on each headlight, scrubbing for a few minutes before adding more of the mixture if needed.
  • Step 4: Lastly, rinse your headlights thoroughly with clean water, letting them air dry for a few minutes. If necessary, you can repeat the cleaning process until you reach the desired level of cleanliness.

Window Cleaner

A collection of glass cleaners.

Window or glass cleaner can be an effective and convenient product when it’s time to clean foggy headlights. Many glass cleaners, including Windex, have ammonia-free cleaners if desired, which are equally effective on your headlights. The combination of window cleaner and car polish will restore headlights in only a few minutes.

What You Need

  • Microfiber cloths 
  • Painter’s tape 
  • Window cleaner 
  • Car polish 
  • Car wax 

Step-By-Step Cleaning:

  • Step 1: First, apply a barrier of painter’s tape around the headlights to prevent any cleaner from getting on your car’s paint or other plastic parts that are not part of the headlight.
  • Step 2: Spray or pour a good amount of window cleaner on the headlight, letting it sit for a couple of seconds before wiping the window cleaner off the headlight with a microfiber cloth.
  • Step 3: Using a second clean cloth, apply a car polishing compound cleaner to the headlight, rubbing it on your headlight in circular motions to ensure an even layer is applied.
  • Step 4: Rinse off any residual car polish with water and dry the headlights with a third clean microfiber towel.
  • Step 5: If desired, you can add a clear coat of car wax to your headlight to help prevent cloudy headlights in the future.

How To Keep Your Headlights Clean

A car has freshly cleaned headlights.

Oxidation causes your headlights to fog up and become hazy, which occurs for many different reasons. UV rays and debris including dirt, gravel, sand, and other elements all affect your vehicle’s exterior, including your headlights. You have a few options to help prevent your headlights from fogging, while also keeping your entire vehicle clean for long periods of time.

The most simple fix to keep your headlights from fogging up in a shorter amount of time between cleanings is to find areas where you can park your vehicle where there is less sunlight to prevent oxidation and clouding. This could include a parking garage or a heavily shaded outdoor area. 

If you regularly park outside with little shading, you may want to consider purchasing a car cover. Not only will car covers keep your vehicle’s headlights clean, but the entire exterior of your vehicle will be protected from any outdoor elements when your car is parked. If you’re not sure where to start looking for a car cover, check out our in-depth review guide.

How To Clean Headlights: Bottom Line

Keeping your headlights clean will help illuminate your headlamps while driving on the road in poor weather or during the evening. You can clean your headlights in just a few simple steps with a high-quality restoration kit or everyday household items. Cleaning your headlights takes only a few minutes and makes all the difference for your car and visibility.

How To Clean Headlights: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.