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My car is getting rather old and it's headlights are foggy and dirty. How can I possibly clean them to be as close to new as possible?

Car headlights

The image above is what I'm chasing.

EDIT: I know of the toothpaste method and I'll be attempting that today, but are there any other methods people know of to achieve a clean headlight?

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The easiest and most hacky way is using toothpaste. Yes, you've read right. The thing that makes your teeth shiny can also make your headlights clean and shiny again.

Some may recommend using bug spray. But this video just taught me, that it can actually damage your headlights, paint and trim - so better stick with the good ol' toothpaste.

What you'll need:

  • regular toothpaste
  • old towels or rags
  • water for rinsing

Steps:

It's as easy as you think

  1. squeeze out a bit of toothpaste on the towel/rag

    enter image description here

  2. scrub the headlight

    enter image description here

  3. (optional) be astonished of the dirt that has came off

    enter image description here

  4. rinse headlights with water

Image and instructions source

  • Great answer! Do you know of any other methods to achieve that clean? – Darren Apr 24 '15 at 1:11
  • Thank you! I saw some instructions wet sanding and then UV coating the headlights, which should clean headlights permanently. [This video] may help (I don't know what he says, don't have sound at my office). Also vinegar and baking soda should help. I'll cite the helpful comment on this video: You could scrub with barely wet baking soda (water) and THEN rinse with vinegar and the foaming action MIGHT add to the cleaning. OR you could clean with vinegar, which cuts many things, then scrub with baking soda and get some foaming – Alex Apr 24 '15 at 6:42
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    Sorry for the broken link. Here is the first video I wanted to link to. – Alex Apr 24 '15 at 7:21
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Method 1

  • Use Baking Soda and soap. The method involves taking soap and mixing it with baking soda until you have a scouring powder like solution and then buffing the headlights with that. Rinse the cloth you use, between buffs and rinse clean with fresh water. The link says use Castile Soap and a mild soap is best.

Things you need:

  • Baking Soda
  • Soap(Dish soap or Castile is fine)
  • Water
  • Rag
  • Bucket(for water)

Method 2

Use wet and dry sandpaper. This is a somewhat permanent method.

Things you need:

  • Wet and Dry sandpaper.
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Rinse water.
  • Dry rags.
  • Adhesive covering for the headlights.
  • A buffering product for the headlights.

I am not going to explain this method in detail, but in short you buff the headlight clean with the wet and dry sandpaper dampened with the spray bottle water. Then you buff the headlights with the buffering product and apply the adhesive.

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The answers above are good, but whatever you do, you need to add a UV coating once you're done. If you don't, you'll be right back where you started fairly quickly. The fogging is due to the breakdown of the original UV coating and consequent fading. I'm not sure what it costs, but I know I'll be buying it when I need to do mine. As for getting rid of the fading in the first place, toothpaste is good, and professional systems will do a better job. Depends on whether you want to apply the 80/20 principle to this and do it on the cheap, or if you want a real showroom finish.

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