How to Clean Headlights with WD40, Toothpaste, and Baking Soda

Inclement weather, road dirt, friction and the simple passage of time affect the headlights of the car, and are one of the most important points since at night they are responsible for lighting the road.

Having the car headlights in good condition, more than an aesthetic issue (which also), directly affects our safety and that of other road users and that is why today we will explain how to clean your headlights with WD40, toothpaste and baking soda.

Years ago, headlights were made of glass. But this material is very vulnerable, so it was easy for them to break. That is why, over time, they were made of polycarbonate, which is much more resistant to shocks and weathering.

In addition to the paintwork, car headlights are particularly affected by the passage of time and use. It is easy to see how the headlight covers yellow or become opaque with the passage of time. This is due to wear of the outer layer of transparent plastic, which gradually loses its translucent finish.

To restore this transparent glass effect to the car’s headlights and allow the lighting elements to do their job as they should, in addition to rejuvenating the car’s appearance for a few years, you can resort to a mechanical operation that is very basic and accessible to anyone, no matter how little experience they have: polishing the car’s headlights.

Why do our headlights deteriorate?

To understand what happens to our headlamps, we must first analyze why they deteriorate. By deterioration we are not referring to breakage of the glass, but to its loss of transparency, which translates into loss of efficiency. It may not be such a problem nowadays, but when the lenses became completely transparent protectors, many ended up whitish or yellowish.

Although we still call them glass, nowadays they are usually made of polycarbonate, a lighter and, a priori, more resistant material. The problem with this material is that its continuous exposure to the elements can take its toll, such as exposure to the sun, which eventually burns the outer surface of the headlight, or the erosion that appears with its use. Even the use of bulbs that are too powerful can damage this polycarbonate, although in this way the polycarbonate can be damaged.

What are the symptoms?

There are three ways to detect that our headlights are deteriorated. For the most absent-minded, it will probably be at the MOT when the operator on duty tells us that our headlights have a problem. And the problem will bounce right back to our wallet, because defective lighting is a fault.

Precisely the illumination is another of the symptoms that will indicate us that something is not going well. It is somewhat ambiguous because those who do not use the car in low light conditions or at night will not notice the difference, but those who do will see how their headlights no longer illuminate properly because the light passing through the plastic cover is insufficient.

Finally, the easiest and quickest way to detect the symptoms is to look at our headlights and see that they no longer look like new. They have lost their transparency and we will probably see a whitish or yellowish coating. Further, if we touch the headlights, we may notice a rough surface that can even stain our fingers with small fragments of material.

What are the consequences?

The consequences of deteriorated glass are, without going any further, a loss of lighting efficiency. Beyond the economic repercussion that it can suppose, it is a danger for ourselves, since our deficient illumination will not illuminate the road or the signposting in a correct way.

In addition, headlights are used to see and be seen, so other road users, whether they are cars or pedestrians and cyclists, may not see us and cause some kind of accident.

How to solve it?

Just as there are different ways to detect the problem, there are several other ways to solve it. The first of them is the fastest and most effective, but also the most expensive: changing the headlight. In this way we will have a new optic but it will mean paying the price of a new headlight, which is not cheap, plus labor if we do not do it ourselves. Moreover, it may not be enough to replace a headlight, so we will have to add the price and labor of another headlight more.

The other way is to polish the headlights of our car. It is a more rudimentary task and not so effective, but it will get us out of trouble and will leave our headlights in conditions to return to circulate safely and without problems. This way is, in addition, cheaper since we can entrust the task to a specialist or, even, to make it ourselves, which is what we are going to deal with next.

How to Clean Oxidized or Cloudy Headlights

You can clean dark or fogged headlights with various household products.

  • WD40
  • Toothpaste
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

The list of the above will be the subject of this article.

How To Clean Headlights With Toothpaste

The use of toothpaste to polish the headlights of the car is a very good home trick when the wear of the same is still small. This remedy is very easy to apply and the success is total thanks to the abrasive particles contained in toothpastes, especially whitening ones.

Instructions for use:

  1. Wash the headlights with soap and water or glass cleaner;
  2. Apply the toothpaste on the headlight with a cloth;
  3. Scrub it in small circles until homogenized and let it dry 5-6 minutes;
  4. Repeat the process as the paste dries;
  5. Rinse with water and clean the headlights again with soap and water or glass cleaner.

How To Clean Headlights With WD40

This mixture seeks to combine the cleaning properties of WD-40 or 3-in-One oils with the abrasive effect of baking soda. It is recommended if the headlight has difficult stains such as encrusted rust. If you use this mixture, you must be careful that the oil does not end up on the moldings or other plastic parts of the car. Masking tape will help you avoid this.

How to use:

  1. Make a frame around the headlight with masking tape or similar.
  2. Mix the WD-40 and the baking soda to get a dense mixture. To get an idea of how dense it should be, look for a creaminess similar to toothpaste.
  3. Rub it over the entire surface of the headlight making small circles. The longer the better, but 5 or 6 minutes will be enough.
  4. Wash with water and soap making sure that you remove all the oil.
  5. Clean the headlight with a glass cleaner.

How To Clean Headlights With Baking Soda

Another of those home remedies to polish the headlights of the car by hand, really effective and that can help us to recover its total functionality. The process begins by mixing vinegar and baking soda, always carefully because it will form a foam.

Once the paste is created, the method of use is the same as for toothpaste.

How To Clean Headlights With Vinegar

Another ingredient that we usually have in our homes is vinegar. This liquid has been a widely used cleaning item throughout history. We can mix water and vinegar in the container of a window cleaner, spray the headlights with it and wait for a minute.

The last step will be to wipe the vinegar solution off the headlight with a microfiber cloth. Most of the dirt should come off easily, but you can scrub a little more if you find anything stuck to the headlight surface.

Tips for keeping headlights looking like new

  • It is essential to clean your headlights regularly.
  • Avoid car wash tunnels because they may have rollers that can scratch your headlights.
  • Avoid using harsh or industrial cleaning products.
  • The best maintenance you can do to your headlights is to park your car in the shade to avoid exposure to UV rays that degrade the plastic.
  • Do not abuse the polishing of headlights, remember that you are eliminating thickness to your headlights and you can weaken the material.


How to know if you need to polish the headlights?

Dull and yellowish headlights prevent a correct emission of light, this is a reason for not passing the law inspections because it is dangerous at night, you can not see well or you can not be seen, but this can be easily solved by polishing the headlights of your car.

It is very easy to know if you need to polish the headlights just open the hood and compare the headlight that is not exposed to the sun with the rest of the headlight. The more difference there is in color between the different areas of the headlight, the more you should polish the headlights. You should be aware of the condition of the headlights because this is a cause of accidents and failure to pass inspections of your car.

How much does it cost to polish headlights?

Polishing your headlights can easily cost you 40 or 50 dollars at a mechanic shop, but polishing your car’s headlights is one of those DIY (Do It Yourself) activities that doesn’t cost much money or effort to do and gives many benefits to the maintenance of your car and above all your safety when driving at night. So if you want to save some money we recommend you to buy your headlight restoration kit and do it yourself.

A car headlight is easy to change but it can cost a lot of money so it is very beneficial to polish it and remove all that yellowing and dullness that has accumulated so that they are shining like the first day.


There are many techniques to polish the headlights of your car. Among the cheapest are the homemade ones but these do not give you the quality and duration of a professional headlight polish. In the market, there are restoration kits to restore the original shine to your headlights in a very easy and economical way.

Do not pay to polish the headlights of your car, do it yourself like a professional following the steps we gave you and save a lot of money.