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How to Clean the Plastic Headlights of Your Car

Marian K
Picking a good product is an important step in cleaning plastic headlights. The rest is all about elbow grease...
Most transparent plastic materials become cloudy after a period of regular use. Apart from the problems arising out of the compromised clarity, the headlights can also end up looking downright shabby.
However, we are often unwilling to discard and replace, but look for ways to restore its clarity and newness. Over time, most of us will end up with cloudy, scratched headlight lens covers that can present a safety hazard.
A fact that will surprise most is that these plastic lenses are actually porous and expand slightly when they get hot. When exposed to the heat of the day or headlights, the pores open and allow debris from the road to get in.
Apart from dust, environmental factors such as the sun (UV rays), smog, exhaust fumes and harsh chemicals cause the plastic headlight lenses to become oxidized and degraded over time.
This results in yellow tinted plastic lenses that appear foggy and hazy. Not only are these headlight lenses shabby looking, they are also unsafe. It results in diminished visibility during night driving.
The good news that emerges from all this is that you don't have to spend quite a bit and get your headlight lenses changed. Instead we will tell you the techniques that will help you clean the plastic headlights in an inexpensive way.


The process of cleaning headlights covers starts by getting hold of a good cleaning product and a soft cloth. If the damage is minimal, you can manage with a regular glass cleaner.
If there is a good bit of oxidation that has taken place, it is best to get a product that is especially suited for the purpose. Also try to get a product that will deal with scratches. You will find a fairly wide range of cleaners at an autoparts store, and you can always ask the salesperson to recommend a product.
Get hold of a soft cloth such as a chami cloth. Pay close attention to the instructions on cleaner and carry out any preliminaries as per direction.
Spray the cleaner onto the headlights, and rub the surface with the soft cloth using circular motions. Repeat the process till you get satisfactory results.


It is possible to restore headlights that have a bit of oxidation. The top layer of oxidized plastic needs to be taken off. This can be done by polishing plastic headlights, wet sanding them, or through chemicals.
As the top layer of plastic on the headlights contains a UV polymer that saves the plastic lens from aging, one must replace it after any sanding down. Use a polish that contains UV polymers or put on a UV coating on the restored lens.
To ensure that your restored lenses retain their newness for as long as possible, park your car in the shade or garage as far as possible. Also ensure that your headlight lenses get regular upkeep in the form of washing, waxing, and polishing, at least once every three months.
There are also a number of restoration kits that you can utilize. Pick one that comes with a recommendation from the experts. If you are a novice at this, steer clear of the kits that offer backing plates and drill attachments.
While they save time, if you aren't used to them, you can cause more damage than good. Using the wrong drill speed can result in burns or swirls on the plastic lens, and one can ruin a perfectly good paint job. Most detailed instructions ask you to mask your headlights with some painter's tape.
While the instructions are very simple, it is always beneficial to read as much as possible on the subject before starting such a project.