DIY

How to clean your vehicle's headlights - Use toothpaste

Before

After


For the longest time I have thought that my headlights looked very dim and that I could probably clean my headlight covers to remedy this.  Yesterday I decided to do something about it.

There are many products you can buy to do this. I am cheap and lazy so I decided to do it another way.

This is actually super easy and relatively quick to do.  Searching on Google, I found people using toothpaste doing the same thing here and here and here and here and here and here.  So I figured it would be worth a shot.



Get a rag or two you don't mind getting dirty, and some cheap toothpaste.  This is what we will use as our abrasive.  If you have a buffer, go ahead and use it to get faster and better results.

My car is about 13 years old. I don't know if the headlights have ever been cleaned.


Apply the toothpaste and vigorously rub the toothpaste over what needs to be cleaned.  Then wipe off the toothpaste with a clean rag (or clean part of the rag).


The results should come pretty fast and easy! Warning:
Toothpaste is an abrasive.  You are essentially sanding away the haziness.  If you have a lens protectant, you will be sanding this away as well and may want to replace it after doing this.

About McKay Christensen

After having lived in Oregon, Alaska, and China for the past 10 years doing landscape design and English teaching, I have returned to my home state of Utah and currently work for a growing tech company.

In my free time I enjoy working on my TutorialGeek.net website where I post tutorials and reviews (and anything else I think is geeky) and I also like to write songs for my Super English Kid Youtube channel.

My favorite things to do include anything with my wife and son. Hiking, camping, and photography (or anything else outdoors). Playing Ultimate Frisbee or Ping Pong. Listening to 60s, 70s, or 80s, music. 

Feel free to contact me using my contact page. I would love to hear from any of you!

103 comments:

  1. Seriously this worked! Because I have been trying to figure out what to buy to clean my headlights and what so much stuff out here I just do not know what is best or will work.

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    1. can you use an old toothbrush?

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  2. I did this with useing baking soda and dishwashing detergent also can't tell weather it worked or not but hopefully it did thought it would have done a better job though did not use a buffer though

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  3. I tried and tried were I'm from its hot I found that breastmilk and rolax works great

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    1. Hahahahaha,. These are two items I always have at hand.

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  4. Is this for plastic headlight covers as well or just glass?

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  5. My headlights are plastic. It works as an abrasive, so it would work on any surface that can use some deep cleaning.

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  6. just did this by hand on my altima and it worked!!! Crazy!

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  7. I just used it on my 1997 Grand Marq. Awesome!

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  8. $1 bottle of toothpaste & $1 cloth= clear headlights! Thanks for the tip. My civic couldn't look better!

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    1. i used it on my Ferrari and it works amazing !

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    2. Are they plastic or glass the Ferrari's headlights?

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  9. i used my tears and it looks brand new

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    1. are you from tumblr

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    2. I found Unicorn tears worked AMAZINGLY. The only real drawback is that you have to punch then in the face really hard to get then to cry. Wears your arm out like hell.

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  10. i got chuck norris to look at them and they unfogged

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  11. i like turtles, but also tried this and it worked

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  12. I used a pleco from my aquarium it sucks algea and more.

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  13. thank you for sharing this. I have also used baking soda and toothpaste. Both are useful house remedies for foggy headlight.

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  14. I tried this and it worked great. My only concern is this: why are there so many asinine comments being made here? Why don't you pismire minions get a life, or better yet, try using this toothpaste to buff out some of the stupidity from your head

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    1. potatoes are delicious

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    2. Toothpaste works on cleaning teeth too.

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  15. ^^^like^^^

    HAHAHA Minions!!!!

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  16. what if I have a gel toothpaste will that work also?

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    1. Gel won't work its gotta have that grit in it

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  17. It would seem Gel Toothpaste would not have the abrasive in it to do much good.

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    1. I used gel toothpaste and it dint work. Gonna try the other one.

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  18. I’ll take your word for that. It’s impressive how the toothpaste was able to remove the yellow stains, probably an effect of aging on the cover. If only people knew about this easy procedure, accidents due to headlight glare would be greatly reduced. On another note, I think this cleaning technique will work for other glass fixtures, right?

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    1. To get glass sparkly, we use white VINEGAR and water,as strong as you like it! Also to get the tea or coffee stains out of cups, rub the surfaces firmly with BAKING SODA paste (with a little water). I learned that on a British Comedy from the housestaff.

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  19. Going to try toothpaste. My lights seem so dim from this crappy plastic car makers use.

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  20. After applying toothpaste, sweeping around Headlights & finally, using a Damp Rag to wipe off the toothpaste & cleaning the Headlights, then it will be shinny.

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  21. Just tried it and it worked great!! Only used a sample size tube of toothpaste which cost .50 at wal mart. Cheap fix. Thanks for the tip

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  22. Have you guys tried soap and water first????

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  23. Will this work with my Colgate SpongeBob Mild Bubble Fruit toothpaste?
    Thanks
    Huckleberry

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    Replies
    1. I don't think so, but it tastes good,,

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  24. Toothpaste fix teeth yellow. Toothpaste fix headlight yellow.

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  25. you should compare toothpaste and pledge its about the same

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  26. To the person asking about soap and water above- stop being a smart ass. Soap and water will not clean headlights. The problem is oxidation, not dirt.

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  27. will rubbing compound work or it is too abrasive

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  28. WOW... This toothpaste polishes everything! After using it on my headlights, I polished my toenails. Then I tried it on my bathroom mirror. Right now I'm using it to polish my knob!

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  29. An expensive fix, no? Why not just a $2 rubbing compound, then you clean the headlights 10 times.

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  30. Thank you for the information. I tried it and it looked like it worked. I'll find out when I drive tonight lol.

    Debbie:)

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  31. TO THE ONE POLISHING HIS KNOB......GROW UP !!!!!!!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hey! It was funny! YOU grow up!

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  32. Toothpaste... yay!
    I thought I'd have to go out and get special products... just took 30sec trip to my hand basin, and 5 mins of cleaning... I'll never doubt the internet again.
    and the guy at the garage was gonna charge me $10. Douchebag!

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    Replies
    1. I was quoted $80.00 just today. That's $80.00 each!

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  33. if I was to use mothwash and toothpaste together... would I see a brighter future?

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  34. I was a little hesitant to try the Colgate toothpaste I had because I just read on another site that using the minty or whitening toothpastes could damage the headlights. But after seeing several websites pictures of Colgate being used I decided to try it out, and it worked fine, doesn't look bad at all. Thanks for the tip and the pictures! :)

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  35. It also prevents plaque buildup for 24hrs after each clean

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    1. Was just scrolling through this and laughed so hard at this comment oh my god

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    2. I don't know who you are, but I now love you

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  36. Yep its works. Just tried it on my Benz.

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  37. amazing results, thank you so much!!

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  38. works great..really easy

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  39. Replies
    1. Just tried it snd it works. Saved close to $100.

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  40. I have dentures so I am not sure if I can do this or not. Can I just soak my headlight in a glass of water overnight?

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  41. ha, sorry I couldn't resist after reading all the other funny comments. Truth is, I am gonna give this a shot cuz my headlights are really bad, thanks for the post and the idea.

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    Replies
    1. :) Yeah; it seems pretty crazy that toothpaste would work. I always appreciate some humorous comments!

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  42. A great idea, who new toothpaste had such great uses

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  43. Sprayed my 1999 F250 yellow ish headlights with Pledge, then used a scrubby type sponge and Pepsodent tooth paste. Rinsed, dried and looks much better. Cheap fix. Thanks.

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  44. I have used Colgate toothpaste, a lot of it, and I rubbed really hard. And it actually made it worse for my headlights.
    There are now drab/non-glossy, and i can see the scratch marks of the rubbing. My mistake probably was that I has used a kitchen sponge with the abrasive side, and I have over rubbed.

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  45. Wow, it worked (Colgate toothpaste and a towel)! I am SO glad that I tried this before buying the new lights. Thank you so much!

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  46. Works great, thank you. Just saved me $150 bucks. :)

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  47. "Funky Spunk", fresh and ideally the car's owner, will also do the trick.

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    1. thanks Kurt - where can i get this stuff?

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  48. This works for minor oxidation and road film. It doesn't remove chips and scratches that also diffuse the light. If you want them perfect, you have to completely resurface them and polish the lenses back to like new smoothness. Then and only then will the headlights emit the correct amount of light and disperse it the way they were designed to. We do headlights locally for $59 a pair, takes about an hour to an hour and a half but they look like new. Oh and don't seal with the current "internet favorite", 1 part mineral spirits, 1 part spar varnish...It turns yellow like all varnish after about 45 days.

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    1. Thanks for the comment and info. Toothpaste definitely is a short term solution. I think it works for me so well because I don't have a fancy car anyhow.

      Thanks for the info on the sealant.

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  49. Toothpaste and spray n shine tire cleaner works mint too

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  50. Audi just quoted me £144 to have one light done on my S3. I said no thank you, toothpaste is the only route for me!

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  51. Not just for civics but maybe most with plastic headlight covers?

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    1. It will work for any headlights that have residue on them. The toothpaste works as an abrasive and just helps to get the residue off.

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  52. Toothpaste certainly does have more than one use, good tip

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  53. this will be with me if you use a buffer… thank you for the info��

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  54. Thanks my Tundra looks great!

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  55. I've been using toothpaste for years to clean my headlights my father in law told me about it and I thought he was crazy but he is also a good old boy from North Carolina and it is now 70 years old. When I used it I couldn't believe it and then I started seeing all these new products coming out call the headlight restorer. I laughed and laughed as these were twelve fifteen dollars and I can clean mine 4 a buck. I tell people all the time about this and they look at me like I'm crazy and most of them I think don't take me seriously.

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  56. I tried this method on my 2000 mustang (plastic casings) without luck, as well as some of the major brands (3m, turtlewax) I read some reviews and purchased a product called headlight wizard, and it finally worked! Got it for 20 bucks from www.headlightwizard.com. Definitely worth trying if the toothpaste method doesn't work!

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  57. Do not use a brush, stick to a soft cloth, use as much pressure as you can muster.
    This isn't a cure-all. In a few weeks you'll need to do it again, just as with any store bought kit.
    As far as damage to the lens, they are already yellow and damaged. Toothpaste can't damage it any worse than it is.

    I used Tom's. Bought that because I didn't want the flouride but I don't really like the taste. So the $5.00 tube still came in handy.

    I've read about the folks who use a super fine grit sandpaper but I can't bring myself to do that...shudder!

    Just make it a routine when you wash your car at home, it eventually only takes a couple of minutes to maintain the clear.

    I just did a 15 year old Aurora like 30 minutes ago, the girl was very impressed. The Oldsmobile Aurora!!! Geez!

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  58. 1 of those white magic sponges does the job aswell with a bit of elbow grease

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  59. can we use blue toothpaste

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  60. Thanks for the tip. My '04 Corolla still looked great except for the yellowing on the headlamps. On night drives on the highway it seemed I was outrunning my headlamps! $1.99 tube of Colgate plus two applications and two scrubbings plus elbow grease got great results.

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  61. Just did this and it worked great. Now I should be able to see when I drive at night. Thanks for the tip.

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  62. is it work to remove watermark on windscreen?

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  63. I used a ceramic cook top cleaner and it worked great! It's a mild abrasive like toothpaste. I bet Soft Scrub would work too.

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  64. It is really very effectively work and Clean the surface of headlight very well.

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  65. Wasn't using toothpaste suggested as a way to clean/make clear again the rear window of convertible tops?

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  66. Great advice! I was wondering how to clean my car`s headlights. I was not sure if I am going to succeed. It looks pretty easy, though. I am going to try. Wish me luck. Best regards!

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  67. Didn't work for me. 2004 mustange. No I didn't use gel. I use high beams just to see.

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  68. Headlight lenses have a UV protectant coating on them that wears out/off over time, not all but many do. After whatever method you chose to use to clean/sand/buff the lense you may want to consider applying a sealant with UV protection.

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    1. What kind of sealant?

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    2. Just about any sealant you find on Amazon should work (http://amzn.to/2b4dUjB). Basically just look on the label and make sure that it says sealant and UV protection.(http://amzn.to/2aHpXnq)

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