How to Clean Headlights in Easy DIY Methods and Maintain It

how to clean headlights

Headlights are one of the most important safety measures of a vehicle. Serving as an eye to the car and the driver, it is therefore of utmost importance to look out for any dirt and dust accumulating in it and regularly cleaning it. This section deals with the meaning, uses, reasons and various pockets friendly and easy ‘Do it yourself’ method on how to clean headlights.

What are Headlights?

Headlights are a beam of light or a lamp that is fitted in the front of a vehicle. The main purpose of the headlight is to illuminate the road ahead of the vehicle. These are also referred to as headlamps.

What are the uses of Headlights?

Before understanding the process of how to clean headlights, it is important to understand why it at all is important. Therefore, the uses of headlights are:

  • It acts as an eye of the vehicle by helping the drivers see the road during the night, in foggy weather.
  • Helps the cars coming from the opposite direction be aware of the cars on the opposite side.
  • It adds beautification to the car.

Why should one clean car headlights?

Headlights are essential to every vehicle for the fact that it helps the drivers to see the road ahead clearly by illuminating it. During the night hours and foggy weather, it acts as a savior to every driver. Not just that, headlights also help the drivers coming from the opposite lane to be aware of the car coming from this side.

However, the main problem that lies with the headlights is the fact that it needs regular cleaning. The sole reason why one must keep the headlights under check is the fact that it acts as a very important safety precaution. The headlights become dirty due to its continuous exposure to the UV rays of the sun, sunlight, dust, road spatter and fog. Although the headlight plastics are covered with a protected film to prevent it from depreciating, it still does.

Another reason why one should keep the headlights clean is because of the beautification of the vehicle. A dirty, foggy headlight makes the vehicle lose its shine and beauty making it look old and depreciated. Therefore, the headlight must be cleaned to increase the luster of the vehicle.

What to consider before cleaning the headlights?

There are quite a few ‘Do it yourself’ or DIY process available on how to clean headlights. Here are the steps to consider before choosing a method:

Step 1: Choose a DIY process

Like mentioned, there are various ‘Do it yourself’ processes that is available. Hence, before finally deciding on a particular method on how to clean headlights it is important to examine the headlights carefully.  There are various factors to look for, like scratches and abrasions. The cleaning method is chosen on the basis of how serious the damage of the headlight is.

Step 2: Wash the headlights well

It can difficult to understand the problems of the headlights. This happens due to the dust and dirt that accumulate on the car and the headlights for its continuous exposure on the roads. Therefore to understand how far the headlights need to be cleaned and finally deciding on a method to clean it; wash the headlights a bit initially. For this, using water and regular soap, the car needs to be washed.

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Step 3: Check the headlamps for Hazing

Once the headlights are cleansed, it could be seen if any haziness is occurring. The haziness of the headlights occurs when all the hard coat of the headlight has worn off and the soft polycarbonate begins so get exposed. As a result due to its continuous exposure to dust and dirt, a yellow layer will cover it. If a problem like such occurs, to slow the depreciation of the headlights, a quick cheap clean is the best option.

Step 4: Check the headlamps for yellowing

The headlamps turn yellow when it starts to lose adhesion after its hard coat begins to thin out. In case a yellow tint is noticed in the headlights, a more vigorous and comprehensive method of cleaning is suggested.

Step 5: Check the headlamps for cracks and peeling

In certain cases where the hard coat of the headlight has thinned out, one can catch spotting in some certain areas such as the upper corners of the headlights. As the hard coat peels off, cracks and tears develop on the inner side of the lens, deep into it. If the cracks are huge, professional help is required. In certain cases, the headlights can even be required to change.

Step 6: Get the glass headlights examined

The above steps were on how to clean plastic headlights. However, there are also glass headlights available in many vehicles, especially in older models. In cases where the car has glass headlights, the headlight system is complicated. Therefore, in these cases, it is best recommended to take them to a professional or a technician to have them checked.

How to clean headlights?

Taking the vehicle to a professional to clean the headlights can cost a hefty amount to the owners. Some owners even opt to completely change the headlights without even trying to restore the old ones. This is for the fact that many do not even know how to clean headlights by themselves. Here are various DIY or ‘Do it yourself’ methods on how to clean headlights:

How to clean the car headlights using toothpaste:

The headlights of the car can be cleaned with the most basic thing present in all of our homes, toothpaste. Time and again we have heard of how to clean headlights using toothpaste. Here is the step by step guide of it.

Things required for cleaning the headlights using toothpaste are:

  • Toothpaste
  • Water and Soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Spray bottle
  • Cloth
  • Baking soda

Defogging and cleaning the headlights with toothpaste is an inexpensive and super easy method but requires a lot of scrubbing. For this, the first step is to spray water and soap to the headlights and clean them. Once it is done, the toothpaste is put on the wet headlight using a cloth. Adding a little baking soda along with the toothpaste gives an additional effect. A lot of scrubbing is required till the time the headlight seems clearer. As required the toothpaste needs to be added to the headlights keeping the surface wet.

Although this method does not require a lot of effort, this works best only if the headlights are slightly foggy.

How to clean the headlights with vinegar and baking Soda

The foggy headlights of the car can be cleaned by two of the most found substances in our houses, which are vinegar and baking soda. These could be used together as a combination or alone to give the headlamps its previous shine.

Things required to clean the headlights using vinegar and baking soda are:

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Cloth
  • Toothbrush

The procedure on how to clean headlights with vinegar and baking soda is the simplest. There is just one step for this; the baking soda and the vinegar is put on a cloth or a toothbrush and rubbed on the headlamps. The headlamps are polished until the time the shine comes back. The baking soda has an abrasive element that can clean dirt and dust.

This is another inexpensive method to clean the otherwise foggy headlamps. However, this method of cleansing might not work very well on extremely oxidized plastic. Another problem is this is a temporary method and therefore needs to be maintained to keep the headlamps clean.

How to clean the car headlights using restoration kit

There are various restoration kits available in the market. It is therefore recommended to go through the review before getting one. Although this method is a bit expensive when compared to the previous methods, it keeps the headlamps clean for a relatively long period of time.

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Here are the things to look for before getting a restoration kit:

  • Sandpaper
  • A plastic polish or cleaner
  • Protective coating
  • Polishing Cloth

Here are the steps on how to clean oxidized headlights using a restoration kit:

  • Protect the surrounding areas of the headlamp using masking tape.
  • Using warm water, wet the headlamp and the sandpaper.
  • Gently move the sandpaper in a circular motion. It is a must to ensure that the sandpaper is wet.
  • Repeat the procedure using higher grit sandpapers.
  • Dry the surface of the headlight using a cloth.
  • In order to ensure that the lens is protected, coat it using a layer of wax.

Things to understand before cleaning the headlamps

  • The restoration kit comes with a manufacturer’s direction. It is a must to not improvise and strictly follow it.
  • If a rough surface comes across while rubbing the headlamp with sand, one should rub it until the spot becomes smooth.
  • The surface of the headlight must be kept wet.
  • It is important to be gentle and keep an eye on not scratching the paint off the car.
  • Ensure to dry the headlight completely before applying the wax.
  • The time taken to cleanse the headlamp depends on how foggy it has become. Hence, one should be careful of not rushing through the process and giving it all the time it requires.

How to clean the headlights inside?

For the headlights to be perfectly clean, just cleaning the exterior of the headlight is not sufficient. The inside of the headlamps need to be checked upon and cleaned as well.

Before doing anything to the inside of the headlights, it is a must to examine the owner’s manual for understanding the system carefully.

Here are some steps on how to clean the headlights inside:

Step 1: Understand the screwing system of the headlights:

Different car model has different screwing systems of their headlights. To understand them, one needs to take the hood of the vehicle up and look at the screwing system of the headlights. These screws are present on either side of the car.

Step 2: Carefully take off the screws:

After the location of the screws is learned, one must carefully take the screws off one by one. After that, and take the headlight and hood out.

Step 3: Take the headlight lens off

Different headlights have different assemblies. Therefore, before taking off the manual must be read properly to understand these assemblies. After understanding these assemblies, the lens needs to be carefully taken off.

Step 4: Wash and clean the lens

The next step is to clean the lens. A solution, therefore, needs to be prepared. The things required to prepare the solution are hot water, detergent, and a sponge pad. Mix the detergent in a tub of hot water. The next step is to clean the inside of the headlight using the sponge.

The dirt and dust of the headlight must be clearly washed away using the sponge. It must be ensured that the headlight is not pressed too hard while scrubbing it. Once it is ensured that the inside of the headlight is clean, using a dry towel, the wet areas must be carefully dried off.

Step 5: Polish the headlamps

Once the inside of the headlights has become clean, it must be protected using a protective glass polish. The glass polish ensures that the inside of the headlights remains clean for a longer period of time.

Step 6: Fit the headlights back

The final step is to fit the headlights back in its place. The guidelines of the manual should again be followed to understand and ensure that the wiring is properly fixed.

Cleaning the headlights does not just enhance the beauty of the car making it look fresh and new, it also ensures the safety of the lives driving it. Hence, one must look for and clean them at regular intervals.

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