How to Clean Oxidized Headlights in 7 Easy Ways

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to clean oxidized headlights

Have you noticed something different with your headlights during nighttime? It’s not as bright as it used to be! And when you check in the morning your headlights are covered in a yellow foggy haze.

That, my friend, might be headlight oxidation. Oxidation can build up over time, leaving a yellow and brown tint that can be difficult to remove.

But you can clean car headlights oxidation using simple processes. From household items to car-specific solutions, there are many ways to restore headlights to their former glory.

Below are 7 easy ways on how to clean oxidized headlights at home.

Method 1: Removing Headlight Haze With a Repair Kit


The lens restoration kit is one of the best way to clean headlights with oxidization.

This kit contains a high-quality polish, compound, and protective sealant that you can use as headlight oxidation remover.

What you’ll need

  • Headlight Repair/Restoration Kit – Choose some easy-to-use kits that can be bought from automotive retailers.
  • Masking or Painting tape – Do not use duct tapes as they can peel off the paint of your car.
  • Microfiber towel or Clean rag
  • Soap and Water
  • Sandpaper

What to Do

  • Wash your headlights thoroughly. You can use car soap and water to clean the headlight.
  • Apply masking tape around the headlight. This should protect your car’s body from unwanted splatter or prevent sanding beyond the specific area.
  • Sand down the headlights. Evaluate the degree of oxidation in your headlights. If the discoloration is severe, use the coarsest sandpaper and work your way down until you use the less abrasive sandpaper.

Make sure you wet the sandpaper with soapy water or lubricant spray before you get rid of headlight fog.

  • Get oxidation off of headlights. Wipe your headlights dry and buff out the headlight with the clarifying compound using a towel.
  • Polish and Wax the headlights. Use a circular motion for a more effective shine.
  • Apply a sealant. Apply a base coat of your preferred sealant to avoid oxidation from happening faster.

Method 2: Removing Headlight Haze With WD40

WD40 is one of the most common headlight oxidation remover proven and tested by many. This lubricant has an oily residue that fills in the microscopic scratches and allows an even layer of plastic/glass for a clearer shine.

What you’ll need

  • WD40 solution
  • Microfiber Towel / Clean Rag / Paper Towel

What to do

  • Wash down the dirt. The first thing that you need to do is clean the headlights with a degreaser and then rinse them off with water.
  • Clean Yellow Headlight. Use a WD40 on a rag or paper towel and wipe it over the headlights until they are clean and shiny again. One or two sprays are enough to see the change.
  • Wipe for a Clean Finish. Finally, wipe the headlights down with a dry cloth to make sure they are completely dry before driving your car at night.

You may want to check back and do the process again after two weeks, as this is just a temporary fix. To get oxidation off of headlights for a long time, a UV sealant is a must.

Method 3: Removing Headlight Haze With Vinegar and Baking Soda


Vinegar and baking soda are the most competent cleaners. It is an effective oxidation remover for headlights that is a cheap and easy home remedy.

What you’ll need

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Soapy Water
  • Microfiber Towel or Clean Rag

What to do

  • Make the mixture. To make sure that you are using the right amount of each ingredient, mix one part vinegar with two parts baking soda. Add this to one-third cup of soapy water.
  • Clean foggy headlights. Dip a cloth into the mixture and then start wiping down your headlights until they are clean.

You should do this process two times per year or when your headlights start to fog up for optimal results.

Method 4: Removing Headlight Haze With Magic Eraser


The Magic eraser is the true definition of “Don’t judge a book by its cover” because boy does this cleaner work magic. This sponge-looking cleaner easily wipes away the grimes and will replace them with a spotless shine!

What you’ll need

  • Clean Magic Eraser
  • Clean rag or paper towel

What to do:

  • Get rid of headlight fog. Wet the magic eraser and gently scrub each headlight until the oxidized and yellow color disappears.
  • Pat dry with a towel. Wipe the surface with a clean towel to see the finished result.

Method 5: Removing Headlight Haze With Sandpaper

There are many ways you can clean your headlights to remove the haze and one of the sure-fire ways is by using sandpaper. You might wonder, won’t it scratch the surface more?

Using different grits of sandpaper will help remove the oxidized area and smoothen out the plastic for flawless headlight restoration.

What you’ll need

  • Sandpaper with different grits (1000 – 3000) – The least the number in sandpaper, the more coarse and abrasive the surface is.
  • Warm Water
  • Clean Towel
  • Acrylic Laquer Clear Coat

What to do

  • Preparing the sandpaper. Soak the sandpapers in warm water for about 20 minutes.
  • Sand down the headlights. Starting with the most abrasive sandpaper (1000 grit), apply force when scrubbing the surface of the headlight to remove the hazy areas.

Move onto the next grit and continue scrubbing the headlights until you’re onto the very fine grit sandpaper.

  • Wipe dry with a clean towel.
  • Apply a clear coat of lacquer or polish and let dry.

Method 6: Removing Headlight Haze With Toothpaste


Not only does it clean your teeth but it can also buff out our headlights that have been damaged by dirt and oxidation. Toothpaste is a one-of-a-kind oxidized headlight cleaner that will do the job quickly in the most cost-efficient way.

What you’ll need

  • Toothpaste – use a non-gel toothpaste to get better results
  • Toothbrush
  • Warm water or glass cleaner
  • Clean Towel
  • Wax

What to do

  • Apply the toothpaste. Rub a generous amount of toothpaste into your headlights. You can sprinkle some baking soda for 2 times the cleaning effect.
  • Scrub it in. Using a toothbrush, scrub the toothpaste with a circular motion and apply force to remove the dirt and yellow color.

Alternatively, you can also use a rotary tool if your hands get fatigued easily but make sure to use the lowest setting to not damage your headlights.

  • Clean the headlights. Spray some warm water onto the headlights and wipe off the toothpaste with a clean towel. You can also use a glass cleaner to ensure that no toothpaste will be left behind.
  • Finish with a nice coat of wax. This will create a protective layer so your headlights don’t oxidize quickly.

Method 7: Removing Headlight Haze With Bug Spray


Similar to WD40, a bug spray, as crazy as it sounds, can help clean your oxidized headlight real quick. This is an instant fix solution that is popular for its fast effect and pristine finish.

What you’ll need

  • Bugspray
  • Warm water
  • Microfiber Towel / Clean Rag / Paper Towel

What to do:

  • Spray and wipe. Spray an ample amount of bug spray on a clean towel and wipe off the cloudiness away from your headlights.
  • Clean the solution. Remove the excess bug spray solution by spraying warm water and wiping down any residue left.

The only con with using a bug spray is that they contain harsh chemicals that instead of helping you keep your headlights clean, may even damage them further.

You should check the ingredients and do your research before being tempted to use this quick-fix solution.

Why Do Headlights Get Yellow or Foggy?

Yellow and foggy headlights are signs that the lens has been scratched.

They are also caused by a buildup of dirt, oxidation, and other particles that can obscure your vision.

Although oxidation is a natural process that will happen to any plastic or glass surface over time, it can be accelerated by environmental factors such as extreme heat and humidity.

The headlights on your car are usually coated with a protective film to prevent oxidation. But, over time, this coating can wear off, and the headlights will become hazy.

Why Are Clean Headlights Important?

Clear headlights are essential for several reasons.

  • They make it easier to see the road.
  • They also help the car look better and more presentable.
  • And they can even get you a better deal on your car insurance.

Headlights are a critical safety feature on any vehicle, especially during nighttime, rainy, foggy weather. Therefore, it is best to keep them clean and to work all the time.


Oxidation is the main culprit for headlight haze and fog. Other car parts are also susceptible to oxidation, but headlights are the most noticeable because they’re on display at the front of your car.

Learning how to clean oxidized headlights at home the best way is a significant skill to save time, money, and effort rather than going to an auto detailing shop. There you have it!

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