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How to Clean the Headlights

Plenty of people love taking care of their cars to keep that perfect showroom shine and new car smell. However, one area often overlooked is the headlights, which are incredibly important to the look and safety of your car. Here, we will provide a complete guide on how to clean your headlights because, as our after-sales care services show, we want your ride to stay in tip-top shape for years to come. 

What Causes Foggy Headlights?

If your headlights aren’t working quite like they used to, and nighttime driving has become an exercise in bravery, your headlights may have become foggy. There are a few reasons your headlights turn this cloudy yellow colour:

  • Oxidation: The polycarbonate lens your headlights are made from will develop microscopic cracks when exposed to open air and UV radiation, leading to a cloudy effect.
  • Road Damage: Driving on gravel roads can cause tiny rocks and debris to fly up and chip away at your headlights.
  • Dirt and Chemicals: If your car has been around the block a few times, it will eventually develop a thin layer of dirt and chemicals over the headlights. This layer obstructs light and causes your headlights to appear foggy.
  • Water Vapour: The often damp nature of our climate can lead to moisture creeping into your headlight box. This moisture scatters the light coming through the lens, hurting the performance of your headlights.
How to Clean the Headlights on Your Car

Clever Ways to Clean Your Headlights

Baking Soda and Vinegar

The classic baking soda and vinegar tag team won’t just remove stains in a pinch but is also a great way to clean your headlights. This powerful cleaning concoction can easily remove dirt, grime, and oxidation from headlights.

Right off the bat, you’ll want to clean all the dust off your headlights. After this, mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar in a bowl. Apply the solution to the headlights and gently scrub with a soft cloth or sponge. Let the mixture sit on the headlights for a few minutes to allow it to break down any grime or dirt. Finally, rinse the headlights with water and dry them completely with a clean towel.


Toothpaste works wonders for removing the yellow tinge from headlights. It is abrasive enough to remove the yellow coating yet gentle enough not to scratch the plastic casing. The process is similar to cleaning yellow teeth: just apply toothpaste and give it a good brush. But unlike brushing your teeth, you won’t have to do this twice a day; once a year should be more than enough.

To get your headlights pearly white, apply a small amount of toothpaste onto a cloth to the headlight casing. Scrub it gently with an old toothbrush in circular motions for about 15 seconds before rinsing it with water.

Lemon and Baking Soda

For this next method, you’ll need to head back to the pantry and grab some baking soda and a lemon. Now, this may sound more like a recipe for a lemon cake than instructions on how to clean your headlights, but it works!

The method is simple: pour some baking soda on a halved lemon, then rub it all over your headlight to remove the yellowed oxidation. However, take care not to leave any lemon juice on the body of your car, as it can damage unprotected paint.

Tips for the Best Results

No matter how you choose to clean your headlights, these tips of the trade will help you achieve the best results and avoid making even more of a mess:

  • Always wear gloves and eye protection to avoid any cleaning solution getting into your eyes or skin.
  • Use recommended cleaning solutions and a soft, non-abrasive cloth to avoid damaging the plastic headlight covering.
  • Remove the vehicle’s headlights before cleaning to prevent damage to surrounding areas.

Why Do We Need to Keep Headlights Clean?

Keeping your headlights clean is more than just a chore for the aesthetically inclined; it’s crucial for safe driving. Even a small layer of dirt or oxidation on the outer plastic covering of your headlights will make them go from transparent to translucent, reducing visibility at night or in adverse weather conditions. Clear headlights ensure you can see the road ahead and other vehicles can see you, increasing everyone’s safety on our roads.

Lighten Up Your Drive with Clean Headlights

It’s time to clean the gunk out of your car’s eyes! With our essential guide on how to clean headlights, you and your car will be able to see once again!

If you are in the market for a new set of wheels, Portage Cars has a range of coupes for sale along with various other makes and models. View our range online or swing by one of our car yards today.


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