How to Clean Headlights With Toothpaste

Yellow and hazy headlights can make it hard to see through harsh weather and really dark nights. And, you never really remember to fix them until you’re struggling to use them. Fortunately, you can easily clean your headlights with toothpaste.

This is a cost-effective solution worth trying before you resort to something more expensive – like buying a headlight restoration kit or a pair of new headlights.

The plastic lens or polycarbonate material used to cover headlights is prone to oxidation when exposed to external conditions and UV light. It’s also subject to staining from built-up grit.

This is why your headlights become yellow with time. The toothpaste helps to scrub the yellow coating away just the same way it does with your teeth. Here’s how to go about it.

Step by step process on how to clean headlights with toothpaste

What you’ll need:

  1. Soap and water
  2. Clean towel
  3. Toothpaste
  4. Painter’s tape/masking tape
  5. Old toothbrush


Step 1: Clean your headlights

Clean your headlights using soap and water. This helps to remove dirt and debris and reduce the amount of stain the toothpaste has to remove.

Sep 2: Apply toothpaste

Apply a small amount of toothpaste on your headlights and spread it all over the plastic lens. You can tape off the painted panels surrounding the headlight to prevent the toothpaste from eating away at the paint.

Step 3: Scrub the headlight

Grab an old toothbrush and scrub the headlight. The more dirty and yellow the headlight is, the longer you’ll need to scrub it.

You can use a cloth, sponge, or soft-bristle brush in place of an old toothbrush. Make sure you’ve covered the entire headlight considerably. Scrub it to your satisfaction.

Step 4: Rinse the headlight

Rinse the headlight with clean water to remove all the toothpaste. Don’t leave any toothpaste as it will dry on the plastic and leave a cloudy film.

This will make it harder to remove it. Wipe off all the water and toothpaste until you’re left with a clean headlight.

Step 5: Apply headlight sealant

Apply UV-resistant headlight sealant to protect the plastic from deterioration. The toothpaste removes both the yellow coating and the protective coating from the factory.

This leaves the plastic bear and vulnerable to further oxidation. Use a clean microfiber cloth to apply one layer of sealant or as specified by the manufacturer.

Let it sit for about 45 minutes. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the excess off. If you had put tape around the headlight, remove it.

Step 6: Clean your headlights every 2-4 months

Repeat this process every 2-4 months to keep your headlights clean and clear. Toothpaste works well for such a cost-effective solution. It’s not permanent, but it will save you a lot of money.

Read more: How to Clean Your Car Interior Plastic Trim

Does cleaning headlights with toothpaste really work?

Yes. You can clean your headlights with toothpaste to remove oxidation and clear out the dull and foggy appearance. Even though the headlights will not look as good as new, you’ll be able to remove most of the yellow coating.

This improves illumination when driving in pitch darkness. It also helps to improve safety since you’ll be able to spot obstacles on the road ahead. It’s a cost-effective solution worth trying.

What kind of toothpaste cleans headlights?  

Use toothpaste that is in form of a paste and not a gel. For the best results, pick the one that has baking soda and peroxide. It is abrasive and contains the grittiness required to scrub the headlight.

It also has a whitening effect that adds an advantage. If you do not have whitening toothpaste, regular white toothpaste also works. You’ll get to clear and clean headlights that are hazy or dull in no time.

How long do you leave toothpaste on your car headlights?

Let the toothpaste sit on the headlight for about a minute once you’re done scrubbing. This will be long enough to allow it to remove the stains and oxidation.

Don’t let it rest on the plastic for too long as it will dry and leave a cloudy film. Removing toothpaste that has dried on plastic can make the process longer than it needs to be.

Read more: How Fix Cracked Leather Car Seats by Yourself

Cleaning headlights with toothpaste – how long does it last?

Once you clean foggy dull headlights with toothpaste, they will stay clear for 2-4 months. You’ll need to check them after two months to see if there’s any yellowing or oxidation.

It’s good to repeat the cleaning process regularly to reduce the effect of UV light and other external elements. Applying a coat of sealant also goes a long way in protecting the headlight lens.

Other ways you can clean yellow headlights at home

Toothpaste is not the only item that you can use to clean headlight lenses. You can work on your oxidized headlights using:

1.     WD-40

WD-40 is a great alternative if you’d like to clean your headlights quickly. It can be a good cleaner for foggy headlights if you’re looking for a short-term solution.

Simply spray a little on a cloth or paper towel and wipe the headlight until it’s clean. It will not last as long as toothpaste and may not be able to remove mildew layers. However, it’s cheap and convenient.

2.     Baking soda

Mix 4 – 6 tablespoons of baking soda with warm water to create a paste. Use this paste to scrub your headlights using a sponge or soft-bristle brush. Rinse the headlight with clean water. This also helps to fix oxidized headlights and clean the lens.

3.     Coca Cola

Spray some Coca-Cola on your headlights and let it sit there for about 10 minutes. The ingredients eat away at the oxidation and stains. Once the 10 minutes are over, wipe the coke off the headlight with a clean towel.

This is also another simple and quick solution to hazy and foggy headlights. Just make sure the Coke doesn’t get onto the paint.

4.     Vinegar

Mix vinegar and water in the ratio of 1:3. Put it in a spray bottle and spray it over the headlight. Leave it to soak the stains and dirt for about 5 minutes before wiping it off. If you need a stronger solution, mix vinegar with baking soda and use it to scrub your hazy headlights.

5.     Lemon juice and baking soda

A mixture of lemon juice and baking soda is also an effective solution when cleaning foggy headlights. Simply spray it on the cloudy headlight lens and scrub using a soft-bristle brush or old toothbrush.

Final Thoughts

As seen above, you do not need to buy any headlight restoration kit or cleaner to clean your headlights. Toothpaste works fine and can even be substituted by other household items such as baking soda, vinegar, and WD-40. Unless your headlights are completely ruined and no longer work, you don’t need to replace them. Simply clean them for better results.