How To Clean/Restore Car Headlights: Home Remedy [Best Methods]

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Written By Will S.

Want quick and easy ways to make your car headlights spick and span without ridiculously expensive cleaning solutions? Well, I’ve got great news: There are DIY cleaners for car headlights that will have them looking like they’ve just rolled off the assembly line. 

There are a couple of clever home remedies for cleaning car headlights. The first one involves using warm water, baking soda, and lemon. The alternative is buffing and polishing the headlights with plain blue toothpaste or similarly gentle solutions.

Without further ado, let’s get started and save some money on car cleaning.

Method 1: Using warm water, baking soda, and lemon

If your headlights are no longer as clear as they once were, you should assess the damage to determine what action to take next. Sometimes, a simple fix might be all that is needed to resolve the issue.

Before you start, here’s what you should grab from your kitchen:

Once you have the above, follow these simple steps:

  1. Prepare a bowl of warm water and mix baking soda into it.
  2. Cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the bowl, and mix well.
  3. Stir until you get a smooth paste.
  4. Apply the mix to the headlights in a circular side-to-side motion.
  5. Let the paste sit for at least 15 minutes over the headlights.
  6. Wash the headlights with water to remove all the paste.
  7. Take a microfiber towel and dry the headlights.

Method 2: Buff and polish the headlights

If the previous method didn’t work, you may have to try something a bit more drastic, like using sandpaper. Sanding can seem like a bad idea because you risk scraping off your headlight’s top layer. But if you’re extra careful, it should get the job done.  

What you need:

  • Different grades of sandpaper
  • Car polish
  • Car wash soap and sponge
  • Microfiber towel
  • Masking tape

How to sand car headlights

  1. Clean your headlights with warm soapy water and rinse them. Leave for a few minutes to dry.
  2. Wrap masking tape around the edge, close to where the lights attach to the car’s painted surface, to lessen the chances of scratching the paint.
  3. Take your sandpaper. Ideally, you should use one with a higher number: The higher the number, the finer the grit. I suggest starting with 400 — something like the Miady Assorted Grit Sandpaper (available on These sandpapers can go as high as 3,000(!), so I definitely recommend them. 
  4. Soak the sandpaper in water, then sand horizontally across the headlights. 
  5. Change to a finer grit of sandpaper (e.g., 1,000), and continue rinsing.
  6. Switch to even finer sandpaper (maybe 3,000 grit), and continue sanding until the headlights feel smooth. 
  7. After cleaning the headlights, rinse them off and let them dry.

How to polish car headlights

After you’ve sanded your headlight, the next step is buffing and polishing them. I suggest picking something like the Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover (available on, as it can remove any minor scratches the sanding process left behind.

Once you have your car polish, do the following:

  1. Use a microfiber cloth to rub car polish into the headlights. 
  2. Once the polish has dried, wipe away any residue. 
  3. Continue buffing and reapply polish if there are still foggy spots.

Finally, you’ll have clear headlights again after doing all these.

Note: If you’re on a budget, blue toothpaste makes a good substitute for car polish. Use plain blue toothpaste, not one containing peroxide. You can even use a plastic-safe non-abrasive tub or sink cleaner.


If you need to clean your car headlights, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Almost everything you need can be found in your kitchen cupboard or bathroom. That, coupled with the above steps, should leave your headlights looking good as new.