How to Clean Car Headlights
Posted on June 2, 2021
Have you ever had the experience of riding in a new car on a dark road at night and thought to yourself, ‘I can see so much more of the road right now than I can in my car...’? It’s a common scenario and when it happens the first instinct is to rush out and buy new headlamps. After all, the last thing you need is hazy headlights when you’re in conditions that require full attention to the road. Instances like these make you wish you knew how to clean car headlights.
But wait! Before you shell out on new lights, a quick clean could be just what the doctor ordered. The best way to clean your headlights is, undoubtedly, to bring your vehicle into CarHub to let our dedicated car service team take care of the work for you but if you’re feeling ambitious we’ve got a new entry into our series of car maintenance tips for you about how to clean your car headlights right.
Why Have Your Headlights Dimmed?
According to Sylvania automotive, a major manufacturer of car headlamps, there are two main culprits in the brightness theft of your lights: road debris and UV rays from the sun. Both of these have a cumulative effect of damage on the protective coating on the outer layers of the headlamp. To bring the headlamps back to their former glory, the sun and dirt-damaged coating needs to be replaced. If you’re not quite ready to give up on the old lamps though and you think that you can bring back some of their lustre on your own, a good cleaning is the next best thing to a replacement.
How Do You Clean Foggy Headlight Lenses?
Cleaning foggy headlights the old-fashioned way is going to require you to get serious about scrubbing. If your headlights have some life left in them and only a slight fog to them, the best way to clean your foggy headlight lenses is by using an abrasive scrubbing agent and getting to work. Baking soda will do the trick, as will toothpaste. Or, if you really want to double down, toothpaste with baking soda is your best bet for bringing the shine back to your lights.
First, clean off any external debris with Windex or soap and water, then rub the abrasive onto the wet headlight and scrub in circular motions. You’ll see the protective coating peel away and when it does, you’ll need to apply a headlight sealant, which is available at any major hardware store. This sealant is of the utmost importance, without it all of your hard work cleaning won’t last long!
How Do You Use a Headlight Cleaning Kit?
If you don’t trust the old 'toothpaste solution', restoration kits are available for purchase that takes away a lot of the guesswork in the cleaning process. If a restoration kit is not used properly, however, they can do more harm than good, so it’s important to read the instructions on your cleaning kit to ensure that you clean your lights correctly and don’t run into more headaches down the road.
1. Choosing the Right Headlight Restoration Kit
The best way to clean car headlights is to first make sure that you choose a restoration kit that has the right materials included to do the job right. You’ll need multiple grades of sandpaper and a plastic cleaner with polishing cloths and a protective film within the kit. If you choose correctly, your kit will have enough materials within it to clean two headlights.
2. Get Scrubbin’
There could be YEARS of built-up dirt, grime, and oxidation on your car’s headlights, so as you scrub, make sure to feel around on the surface of the light to see if you can find any rough spots and scrub them off using your sandpaper and polishing cloth.
Sometimes, the cleaning will require vigorous scrubbing. The best bet to ensure that you don’t accidentally scrape away a portion of your vehicle’s paint is to apply painter's tape around the perimeter of the light, so that if you slip off of the path of the light you don’t do undue damage to your vehicle.
3. Get Sealin’
Once the polish is complete, make sure that the light is completely dry before applying your sealant. You’re also going to want to wait for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight, to drive your car to allow the sealant to dry completely. If you drive with wet sealant you risk having debris and insects stick to the light, which would take away from the whole purpose of cleaning them in the first place.
How often should you complete this process? The general wisdom is that every one to three years your headlamps could use a new cleaning if they’re going to stay as bright and lustrous as they can be.
Let CarHub Do the Work
Not everyone has the time, energy, or frankly, ambition to take on cleaning their headlights on their own. If you’d rather let a pro take care of the dirty work, you can locate car headlight restoration near me or visit CarHub’s service team is always standing by ready to do the work for you. Let the CarHub team turn those foggy lights into blaring, bright gems!