How to Clean Cloudy or Oxidized Headlights Yourself?

Brandon Trenton

How to clean oxidized headlights yourself

Are you someone who loves to keep your car shining like it is brand new? Do you polish, wax and clean it regularly to give it that transformed look? Then we are sure that at some point in time, oxidized headlights would have been your major concern when your car’s whole body was shining like a diamond, but the yellowing headlights just took the charm away.

Headlights are one of the most integral parts of a car. It is usually the first feature that catches the definite attention. But have you ever wondered why cars start to lose their charm and shine as the years pass by even when you polish and wax them regularly? A lot of people mistake this process to be irreversible and either get disheartened with it or take it to the repair store to get it replaced. While that might be a good option, it is an unnecessary expense when you can fix it right at your home.

Why Does Oxidation Take Place?

Yellowing of the headlights is a recent problem that wasn’t present back in the day when they were made of glass. After the 1990s, carmakers started using plastic to make the headlights. To be more precise, the headlights in recent cars are made of PolyCarbonate plastic, which is tough but highly porous. To counter this and add more shine, the carmakers add a layer of thin protective film that looks attractive till it lasts. But unfortunately, the life of this film isn’t more than a few years, and hence, the film starts deteriorating due to the bulb’s heat, chemical spray from the road, and small Asphalt chips found on the roads.

Once this film completely fades away, the UV rays of the sun get to the porous material of the headlights, start oxidizing the whole thing, and before we know it, the headlights have turned yellow.

How Do I Know If My Headlights Are Oxidized Or Damaged?

It is essential to understand whether the problem is with your headlights due to erosion of the plastic layer or is there any other damage that is causing them to go blurry. Oxidation is generally a layer of white opaque covering on the lens, which turns yellow and eventually brown with time. If your headlights are damaged from other issues, even a deoxidizer won’t be able to help.

Does Oxidation Take Place Inside Or Outside The Headlights?

Oxidation can happen both insides as well as outside of the headlights. However, it mainly occurs on the outer layer. But even after significant cleaning, if you notice that the oxidation hasn’t bulged, or you notice tiny moisture droplets inside the lights, you will have to get rid of them as well.

For removing moisture from inside the headlights, you will have to visit a repair store so that you get a thorough cleaning done.

Why Do You Need To Get Rid Of Oxidation?

Looks Highly Unattractive

Firstly, it makes your car look highly unattractive. No matter how much time you spend each day waxing and polishing the body if you don’t get rid of those yellowing stains, it would be a total waste. Apart from being a major aesthetic issue affecting the appearance of your vehicle, oxidized headlights are also an important safety issue that needs to be checked.

Important Safety Issue

When the opaque layer is formed on your headlight, it restricts lights from passing through clearly, which may result in unclear vision. And it only gets worse with time. Headlights are the primary source of light that allows you to be seen from a distance when it is dark. Hence, if your car’s headlights aren’t throwing enough light, it might become difficult for the approaching vehicle to ascertain your distance leading to an accident.

Ways To Clean Oxidized Headlights At Home?

For cleaning oxidized headlights at home, you will need to prep your car before cleaning the deadlights. There are a number of ways in which you can clean those headlights.

We will be discussing some of the common ones here:

1. Using Toothpaste:

  • Begin by cleaning the whole area using a soap and water mixture. You have to get rid of all the chemical spray, dust particles, stone particles, and other things stuck to your headlights.
  • Once you have rinsed off the area with a wet towel, wait for them to dry naturally and then use masking tape to cover areas where the body touches the headlight.
  • Put your gloves on, wet a piece of cloth, and squeeze some toothpaste onto the cloth.
  • Take the cloth and clean the surface nicely. Once done, take enough water and wipe the toothpaste from the surface until you see a shine.
  • When it is dry, apply a UV protector or car wax to prevent it from getting dirty again.

2. Using Baking Soda And Distilled White Vinegar:

  • Clean the whole area around the headlights properly before getting started.
  • Pour distilled white vinegar to baking soda that will create a reaction between the base and the acid.
  • Swirl it around for a bit, then dip a rag into the mixture and get rid of extra solution. Rub the surface of your headlights with the rag.
  • After you notice that the headlines are clean, take a fresh rag, and clean the area.
  • You can apply some automotive wax to save it from re-oxidation.

3. Using Glass Cleaner And Automotive Polish:

  • Prep the car and remove the dust.
  • Use masking tape to secure the headlight area.
  • Apply a generous amount of glass cleaner on the headlights and wipe them clean using a soft cloth.
  • Apply automotive polish and rub vigorously for 5 minutes.
  • Rinse the area with water and apply car wax as a protectant.

You must bear this in mind that using these techniques will give you the desired result, but applying too much force or pressure to clean your headlights might damage them. So you must be gentle but persistent with the cleaning.

However, even after these processes, if the oxidation fails to go away, you will have to take it to the repair shop as it might be a case of more severe damage.