How to Clean Foggy Car Headlights – Home Remedy

More than half of all vehicular accidents occur at night. Although there are many factors that contribute to night time accidents, poor visibility is one of the biggest factors. Thus, when driving in the dark, it is extremely important to make sure your lights are functioning well – both low and high beams.

Aside from defective bulbs, fogging can also diminish your headlights’ efficiency. If the problem is headlight fogging, there are simple ways to address it. Read on to learn what causes fogging, and how to easily remedy it.

What Causes Foggy Headlights?

If you notice your headlights giving off a less than normal brightness, or a dingy, yellowish hue, it can be due to headlight fogging. Various factors can cause foggy headlights, including the direct heat from the bulbs, debris and harsh chemicals encountered on the road, and constant exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

Another possible culprit is normal wear and tear. Note that headlights come with a watertight seal. Over time, however, the seal can break, allowing condensation to form somewhere inside the lens, and this is almost impossible to reach and wipe away. The water droplets then disperse the light beams, adversely affecting visibility at night.

What To Use To Clean Car Headlights?

You can buy headlight lens cleaning products from auto supply shops. These are usually marked as “headlight lens restoration” kits. These products are easy to apply, and can fix foggy headlights quickly.

However, if you’re in a hurry and have no time to run to the nearest auto supply shop, there are home remedies that you can use. These include baking soda and toothpaste. Both substances have sufficient abrasive properties that can get rid of the fog without damaging the headlights.

A polishing compound like Rain X can also come in handy in fixing foggy headlights. Thus, it is a good idea to have a cleaning kit always available in your home.

Best & Easiest Way: How To Clean Car Headlights Home Remedy

Best & Easiest Way: How To Clean Car Headlights Home Remedy

As mentioned, there are quick and easy ways to fix foggy headlights including common household items like baking soda, vinegar and toothpaste. Here’s how:

Things You’ll Need:

How To Clean Foggy Car Headlights Home Remedy: Toothpaste, Baking Soda, or Vinegar

  • 1 small bucket of water
  • Dish soap
  • Water hose
  • Cleanser of choice (toothpaste or baking soda/vinegar*)
  • Sponge
  • Soft brush
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Tape


When using baking soda and vinegar, mix 1 to 2 tsp. of baking soda to vinegar to make a thick paste. Start with a small amount of vinegar and adjust to achieve the desired consistency.

* For more detail please check this article: "How to Clean Car Headlights with Vinegar and Baking Soda".

Step by Step Instructions:

Step 1: Clean the headlights to remove smudges, gunk, dead bugs, and debris.

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of dish soap to a small bucket of water. Mix well until you get a soapy water solution. Use the sponge to wash the headlight surface with the soapy solution, making sure to remove all visible smudges and dirt, then hose to rinse with clean water.

Step 2: Thoroughly dry the surface, and apply tape around the area to be cleaned.

Use a clean cloth to dry and remove all moisture from the surface. Then, gently apply tape around the headlight to keep the cleanser away from the car paint. Leave the tape on until the end of the cleaning process. (Carefully remove the tape later as it may damage old paint).

Step 3: Apply your preferred cleanser.

Generously apply the cleanser to the headlight surface using a sponge or clean cloth. Make sure that the entire area inside the tape is covered. Allow the cleanser to soak for a few minutes.

Step 4: Brush the cleanser off.

Use a soft brush to wipe away the cleanser in a circular motion. Note that the cleanser is abrasive, so wipe gently to avoid scratching the headlight surface, which is usually made of plastic. You should notice the fogginess disappear as you as the cleanser is removed.

Step 5: Get rid of the remaining cleanser.

Usually, small particles of the cleanser will remain on the headlight. Use a microfiber cloth to buff any excess cleanser. If there are still dried on, stubborn bits remaining, spritz them with clean water, then buff until completely dry.

To get a better idea on how to clean your car headlights with common household items, you may find this video helpful.

Key Points Review

The importance of driving with clean and bright headlights at night cannot be overemphasized. Fortunately, there are common household items that you can use to fix foggy headlights quickly.

Let’s go over the simple steps again just to make sure:

  1. Wash the headlight surface with soapy water to get rid of smudges and debris. Rinse well.
  2. Dry thoroughly, then tape the perimeter of the headlight to keep the cleaning solution away from the car paint.
  3. Generously apply your preferred cleanser (toothpaste or baking soda/vinegar) on the headlight surface, and leave for a couple of minutes.
  4. Wipe off the cleanser with a soft brush, careful not to scratch the surface.
  5. Remove the remaining cleanser. If necessary, spritz with water to remove stubborn or dried dirt.

Just follow the steps provided in this guide to make sure that you will no longer drive at night with foggy headlights. If you have your own tips or feedback to share, please leave them below.

Recommended Related Articles:

How to Clean Car Headlights with Vinegar and Baking Soda

Read this guide to learn how to clean car headlights with vinegar and baking soda, and bring them back to their original brightness.

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