How To Clean Headlights: Restore & Protect

how to clean headlights
Headlights are on the lower front of your vehicle, which means that they’re the first thing to come in contact with environmental contaminants. After a while, headlights will appear cloudy, foggy, and yellowed.

This fogginess is not only ugly, but also dangerous. Cloudy headlights mean less visibility while driving at night or through storms.¬†We’re here to tell you how to clean headlights so you car looks new and you can actually see when you’re driving.

What Causes The Fog?

Headlights can become clouded and ugly from regular driving. Exposure to contaminants leads to a layer of dirt collecting on the surface. Oxidation can also cause the yellowish fogginess.

How To Remove It

The easiest and most expensive way to handle this issue is to take your car to a local reputable detailer and have them fix the headlights. Or you could do it yourself at home.

Start with a light polish, like a swirl remover. Use it on a finishing¬†pad with a random orbital machine buffer. Polish the headlights. If the swirl remover doesn’t seem to be removing all the weird road scum, move to a slightly heavier compound and then go back with the swirl remover.

After the cloudiness is gone, use an IPA wipe to remove any polish that might remain from your headlights.


To keep the fogginess from recurring, use a protectant on your headlights. There are headlight-specific products, but you can also use the Dr. Beasley’s protectant you have on hand. As headlights are plastic and not paint, protectants’ durability will be slightly less than it would be on paint.

For example, when you apply PlasmaCoat on your paint, it lasts at least a year. When you apply it on headlights, it would last closer to 6 months. That just means you need to make sure you reapply the protectant in a timely manner and your headlights will remain clear, as will your view of the road.