What are Some Methods for Cleaning Your Headlights?

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Answered by: Wade, An Expert in the Advice for Car Owners Category
Overtime, your vehicle’s headlights will develop a film on them. This film is a result of all of the abuse your headlights are put through. They are constantly dealing with the elements, bugs, and anything else that they come in contact with while you’re on the road. As time goes on, this film will start to reduce the effectiveness of your headlights and look bad. Removing this film is simple, inexpensive, and easy. If your vehicle’s headlights don’t look clear or very obviously have a film on them, it’s worth it to spend the little time and money it takes to clean them up.

Use Toothpaste on Your Headlights

The first method for cleaning your headlights uses another cleaning product that you might not associate with your vehicle—toothpaste. Yep, the same stuff that you use to clean and polish your teeth can be used to clean and polish your vehicle’s headlights. You can even clean your headlights with an old toothbrush if you want to. Clean your headlights like you would your teeth and then rinse thoroughly. A rag or paper towel will work if you have no old or extra toothbrushes to use. Just make sure that you are not using an extra whitening toothpaste, because those have compounds and chemicals that could actually damage the plastic on your headlights.

Polishing Compound

Another common method for cleaning the grime off your headlights is to use an aluminum polishing compound. Aluminum polishing compound can be found at any auto parts store and is usually relatively inexpensive. Clean your headlights with soap and water; you need to get remove all of the bug guts and dirt before you can use the compound. Once your headlights are clean let them dry, and then use a soft dry polishing cloth and some aluminum polishing compound on your headlights. It will usually take three coats. Make sure the buff your headlights thoroughly before putting on another coat, and once your final coat is on take another clean dry cloth and buff until your headlights shine.

Headlight Cleaning Kit

If you walk into any auto parts store you’ll see premade kits for cleaning headlights. These kits work wonderfully, but they are usually more expensive than the methods listed above. The kits will often have a cleaning tool or compound, a scrubbing tool or compound, and a polishing tool or compound. If you choose to use one of these kits, make sure to follow the directions specifically. All of the components of the kit were put together on purpose, and they are designed to be used in a certain way. If you use them out of order or inappropriately, you may find that you’re not going to get the desired results.

After Cleaning Your Headlights

Once your headlights are clean, no matter what method you use, take the time to wax your headlights or use a product like Rain-X on them. That way your headlights will stay clean and clear for a longer period of time.

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