How to Clean Headlight Covers

With time and normal use, the plastic used in car headlight covers can become clouded and foggy. When your headlights become foggy, you can’t see as well at night and others aren’t able to see you as clearly or as far away. Cleaning them ensures your lights are bright and capable of illuminating the area around you adequately. Here's how to clean headlight covers:

Cleaning your headlight covers

  1. Gather the correct materials - To clean your headlight covers, you will first need to gather right tools, including:
  • Bucket of warm soapy water
  • Car wax
  • Cool rinse water
  • Fine sandpaper of at least 600 grit up to 1500 grit
  • Polishing compound
  • Towels (two or three)

    Tip: Use a toothbrush and toothpaste if you don’t have sandpaper or if the covers aren’t severely foggy.

  1. Protect the paint - Use duct tape or other tape to cover the paint around the headlights to prevent scratching or damaging the paint.

  2. Wet the headlights - Dip one clean cloth in the bucket of warm water and wet the headlights.

  3. Sand the headlights - Use the largest grit sandpaper you have to gently sand the headlights. Move back and forth in a sideways motion.

  4. Clean off the headlights with water and a cloth

  5. Sand again - This time, use a finer sandpaper to sand more on the headlights.

  6. Scrub the lights - Use a toothbrush with toothpaste to scrub the headlights.

  7. Clean off the headlights a second time - You may need to repeat with an even finer grit if the headlight covers still appear coated.

    Tip: The headlights will look even worse after sanding, but they will improve with the next steps.

  8. Rinse the headlights - Use clean water to rinse off the headlights.

    headlights 2

  9. Buff the headlights - Use a clean dry cloth to buff the headlights and remove all of the water.

  10. Apply polishing compound - If your headlight covers have minor scratches on them, you'll want to apply a polishing compound. Buff for several minutes until you no longer notice any marks.

    Tip: You can use an electric buffer to make this part of the process go faster.

  11. Wax the headlights - Use a clean cloth and polish the covers with a car wax. Make sure it’s a paste designed for use on vehicles. This will create a protective layer on your headlight covers.

Expect to spend about five to ten minutes sanding the covers with each sandpaper and a total of 30 minutes or more to complete the job.


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