How To Clean Plastic Headlights

July 20th, 2018 by
how to clean plastic headlights

If you’ve ever driven at night in and around Toronto, Mississauga or Brampton, you know how dangerous dirty or foggy headlights can be. Blame road dust, insects and pollen: your headlights probably come into contact with all of these things on a daily basis. Keep them clean for optimal visibility in storms and when navigating darker roadways and you’ll see a big difference. It’s a quick and simple item to add to your regular DIY vehicle maintenance schedule.

What is the best cleaning method for dirty headlights?
  • Soapy water is all you need to clean your headlights. Fill a spray bottle with warm water and a few drops of mild liquid soap. Spray the headlight liberally, or, fill a bucket with warm soapy water and soak a clean, soft cloth, then wipe down the headlight. No fancy equipment required.
  • Baking soda and vinegar will also do the trick. Mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar in a bowl, wait for the fizz, then wipe this paste right onto the headlight with a clean, soft cloth, moving it back and forth with a firm, consistent pressure.
  • Sandpaper may not have occurred to you as a headlight cleaner, but it works well. Before attacking your foggy headlights with a hunk of sandpaper, soak the paper in water for about 15 minutes. Use at least one piece of 1000-grit paper and one piece of 2000- or 3000-grit paper.  Fill a spray bottle (or bucket) with warm water and a small amount of car soap. Spray or wipe your headlights liberally with the soapy solution. As you spray or wipe, you can simultaneously rub the headlight with the 1000 grit sandpaper. Move your hand from one side of the light to the other, using firm, even pressure. Continue spraying the headlight with the soap mixture as you rub. After you’ve sanded the entire headlight surface, wipe it down with a clean, dry towel. Take a good look. You want a surface free of scratches and damage. If you still see scratches or signs of damage, spray it again with water while sanding it down with 1000-grit sandpaper. Continue spraying the headlight with more soapy water. Now, to further reduce the dirt and fogginess from the plastic headlight, use that 2000- or 3000-grit sandpaper. Move it from side-to-side, spraying the light constantly with your other hand. When wiped with a clean cloth, the headlight lens should have a uniform, slightly cloudy appearance.
Should I Polish My Headlights?
The sandpaper method means you’ll want to polish the headlights at the end. Squirt two small blobs of regular car polish on the pad of a rotary sander-polisher and you’re good to go. Wipe the pad of the polisher over the headlight surface before turning it on. Set the polisher to a speed between 1500-1800 rotations per minute and move the pad slowly back and forth across the surface of the headlight. Use only slight pressure. All done: wipe the headlight with a dry hand towel.  The plastic headlight should be clear. If fogginess persists, apply a second coat of finishing polish, then wipe it off with a clean rag or towel.
Follow these steps and your night drives will be transformed. Caring for your vehicle is one of the many pleasures of owning a car, truck or SUV. Your vehicle will thank you, she really will.
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Posted in DIY, Service