Restoring headlights with toothpaste
Huh? Toothpaste as a headlight cleaner? Yip, you were thinking along the same lines I was. Headlights don’t have a plaque? I was curious to see if this really worked so I thought I’d give it a try.
Headlights that are foggy, smokey, faded or cloudy
Most headlights are now made of plastic and not glass. Which is good and bad. My first car was a Rover Mini which came equipped with single unit glass headlamps. This meant that when the bulb went out, the whole unit needed replacing and was expensive. The bonus with most (not all) plastic headlamps is that you can pull them out and there’s a hole in the back to change a bulb. The downside of plastic headlight units is that over time, they will become cloudy looking and eventually yellow. Most of the time this can be fixed. There are headlight restoring kits available or you can have a specialist do it. IF the clouding or yellowness is on the inside, in which case you may need to remove the headlamps and possible have a recon/detailer fix them. They may just be cloudy on the outside.
To check: run your hand over the headlight. If it does not feel smooth, the cloudiness may just be on the outside. In which case, this trick may work.
- Start with a clean and dry headlight, ie. free from bugs and dirt
- Mask around the area to avoid getting the toothpaste on the paintwork
- Add baking soda or make a paste with the toothpaste and baking soda if the toothpaste isn’t very gritty
- Apply the paste to the plastic and rub in with a brush (seem appropriate to use a toothbrush!).
- Wipe clean (again be careful to avoid rubbing the abrasive paste on to paint- it may scratch it)
- Rinse with water
- Dry off and Ta-Da
- Applying a wax or clear coat will help keep them clear a little longer.
Disclaimer: Do this at your own risk!
Lauren has been working in the automotive industry both in the U.K and in the U.S. for over 10 years. A car geek, photographer, big game chaser and bagpipe player, powered by coffee. Send your questions to: