How to Clean Foggy Headlights: The Easy Way Anyone Can Do

I'm part of Amazon Associate and some other affiliate programs, If you buy through links on this site, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read Full Affiliate Disclosure

foggy car headlights, how to guide

Not only that foggy headlights aren’t nice to see on the car, but they can also reduce your visibility during the night drive. Today I decided to show you how to clean foggy headlights and give them a like-a-new look again.

To clean foggy headlights on the car, you’ll have to:

  1. Wash the lights
  2. Tape the area around the lights
  3. Apply the surface activator
  4. Wet sand them
  5. Polish headlights
  6. Apply Clear Coat

I bet that you have seen plenty of suggestions to clean them with toothpaste, wd40, or some other house supplies, but that’s not the proper way to clean headlights.

If you’d like to know an easy way to get rid of foggy headlights, this article is for you.

Why It’s Important To Clean Foggy Headlights

According to a AAA study, foggy (cloudy) headlights produce only 22% of the amount of light a new headlight does when working a full capacity. 

They also said that restoring a foggy headlight will improve the amount of light by up to 70% compared to a new headlight capacity.

Of course, the best option is to buy new original manufacturer parts, which can be pretty expensive.

That’s the reason why I recommend you try to fix cloudy headlights by yourself.

Hazy headlights may be dangerous.

With the 22% that I mentioned above, you can imagine how dangerous foggy headlights can be during the:

  • Night
  • Sunrise
  • Sunset
  • Bad weather conditions (rain, snow, storm, etc.)

Those are times when we need the full capacity of our headlights. Without a good amount of light, your visibility during the drive will reduce a lot.

You may not pass the vehicle inspection.

If your headlights are moderately foggy, you may not be able to pass the vehicle inspection and extend your car’s registration.

I’ve got to admit it’s not a very common situation, but it can happen if you don’t take care of your car’s hazy headlights.

They Decrease The Value of Your Car

One day when you decide to sell your car, potential buyers will likely offer you less than you expect because of cloudy headlights.

In the end, fixing hazy headlights is a profitable option. Not only will it increase the illumination of your lights, but it will also stop someone from haggling over the price of a car.

What Causes Headlights to Become Foggy

You may think that your headlights are foggy only because you’re driving an old car. 

Well, the situation is not so simple. Yes, aging is a process that no one can stop, but there are several other reasons for foggy headlights:

  • Bad Protection: I mentioned this first because not a lot of people know that they should also protect the headlights. New cars come with manufacturer protection, but it doesn’t last forever. After some time, that protection layer wears off, and your headlights become exposed and unprotected.
  • UV Rays: Sun’s UV rays are harmful to almost everything, so it’s for the car headlights. With time, UV rays will destroy them, causing them to oxidize.
  • Rocks & Debris: When you drive, they are the most exposed part since they are positioned in the front of the car. All the rocks and debris flying on the road will hit them and make tiny dents. You can easily check it just by passing with your finger on your headlights, and if they aren’t smooth, you should protect them asap.
  • Dust, salt, and other chemicals: With the little dents on your headlights made from rocks and debris, all the harmful substances will easily stick to your headlights. This will cause your headlights harder to illuminate the road.

How To Clean Foggy Headlights: Easy Way

Trust me; anyone can do it!

Before you can start to clean foggy, you’re going to need the following:

how to clean foggy headlights, sylvania car headlights restoration kit
Image from:

Check the price of this headlight restoration kit on Amazon now.

Step #1 – Wash the headlight

Your headlights should be perfectly clean before you can start the process.

You can take the spray bottle with water, spray the water onto the headlights and remove any dust, grime and dirt.

When you’re finished, wipe the area off with a clean microfiber towel.

Step #2 – Tape the lights

Use adhesive tape to mask the area around the headlights. If you don’t do it, there is a big chance of scratching some of the car paint.

It’s very simple to do, cut the tape into many tiny pieces and tape it around the headlight.

Step #3 – Apply the surface activator

Now you can unbox the Sylvania headlight restoration kit and take the Surface activator bottle from it.

Spray the surface activator gently onto each headlight; just make sure to cover the area.

Wait for around 30 seconds for it to start working. You’ll see that all the haze starts to break down.

Now, wash the surface with water to clean the loosened oxidation. If you have, you can use a microfiber towel to wipe off the area, but kitchen paper will also do the work.

Step #4 – Wet sanding

Now it’s time to wet sand the area. Wet sanding will help you to get rid of the corrosion on your headlights.

In the headlight restoration kit, you have gotten the following sandpapers:

  • 400 Grip
  • 1000 Grip
  • 2000 Grip

I recommend you start with the 400 one since it’s the most abrasive one.

Split the sandpaper into two halves (one for each headlight). Spray the water on the headlight, as well as on the sandpaper.

Start using sandpaper in small circular motions, and make sure you cover all the areas. Make sure to keep the surface wet all the time.

When you finish with the 400 grip, clean the surface with water and a paper towel, proceed to the 1000 grip, and repeat the process.

After you wet sanded the area with the 1000 grip sandpaper, it’s time to finish it with a 2000 grip. This will make the headlights smooth and prepare for the next step.

Step #5 – Polishing

Now it’s time to polish your headlights to get that perfect clarity and gloss. You’ll do that by using the Clarifying Compound from the kit.

Pour a bit of clarifying compound into the white towel that’s included in the box, and apply it to the headlight in even circular motions.

Rub it thoroughly with firm pressure for about 5 minutes on each headlight.

When you rub headlights with firm pressure for 5 minutes each, it’s time to wash the headlights and dry them.

When you wash and dry them, apply the Surface Activator again, wait for 30 seconds, and rinse and dry your headlights.

Before going to step #6, you can remove adhesive tape since you don’t need it anymore.

Step #6 – Clear Coat Application

Now it’s time to give your headlights UV protection. You’re going to do that with the UV Block Clear Coat included in the package.

Remember, if you don’t protect your headlights from the Sun’s UV rays, they will become foggy and hazy again in no time.

Before starting, use the second white towel included in the kit and dry the area again. We need to have perfectly dried headlights in order to apply the clear coat.

Now, wear a plastic glove. You need to make sure none of the hand oils, sweat, etc., comes in contact with the headlight.

Take the blue paper towel from the kit, and pour a bit of UV Block Clear Coat on it. Now apply it to the surface in smooth, even applications. Always do it from top to bottom. Do this twice on each headlight to make sure all the surface is covered and protected.


Using the method for fixing foggy headlights I showed you above, you can get great results, like in the picture below.

how to clean foggy headlights the easy way, before and after results
Image by: Anthony Grathanelli

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to clean oxidized headlights on car?

The time it takes to fix foggy headlights depends on your knowledge and experience. Mostly, you’ll need anywhere between 1 and 3 hours to restore them entirely. Of course, it can also depend on the level of haziness.

Does WD-40 clean foggy headlights?

WD-40 may shine headlights temporarily, but it won’t fix haze and oxidation. I don’t recommend you do it.

What is the cheapest way to clean headlights?

Buy some wet sanding papers (400, 600, 800, 1000, 2000) and borrow some polishing paste and do the work. That way, you can clean them for under $20.

How do professionals restore headlights?

Professionals use wet sanding techniques to get rid of the haze, and then they use compounds and polishes to bring back the original shine and clearness. Lastly, they apply high-quality headlight protection, such as paint protection film or ceramic coating.

Will car wax clean the headlights?

Car wax can’t clean headlights. Car wax is a paint protectant that can protect headlights from Sun, UV, and other harmful elements, but it can’t be used for cleaning them.

Related: How To Protect Car Headlights From Sun and UV

Similar Posts