When your headlights no longer look as crystal clear as they did when you first bought your car, it is definitely time to give them a good clean. If you are used to going to a car wash or valet service, but are interested in doing the job yourself this time you may be wondering which is the best way to clean them. There are actually several ways that you can clean your car’s headlights and in the following article we will look at step-by-step guides for How To Clean Headlights.
The Toothpaste Method
Step 1 – Use regular blue colored toothpaste, but avoid mint flavored and whitening toothpastes as these have ingredients that can actually cause damage to your car’s lights.
Step 2 – Use a dry soft cloth to apply the toothpaste. Run the toothpaste into the lights in circular motions covering small areas until the grime and dirt comes off.
Step 3 – Rinse the toothpaste off with water and then wipe the lights with a clean, wet cloth.
Step 4 – TO give your headlights an even shinier, give them a quick polish.
The Aluminum Polishing Compound Method
Step 1 – The problem with your car’s headlights is caused by their cover being oxidized. This means that to clear them you need to polish the surface.
Step 2 – Begin by washing the headlights with warm water and soap in the same way you do when washing the whole car. Dry the lights as this will remove the dirt and grime so that you are ready to polish.
Step 3 – Use a soft dry cloth to apply an aluminum polishing compound. Only use a small amount on the cloth and rub it onto the headlights in small and compact, circular motions. Allow the polishing compound to dry to a haze on the lights, and then buff the haze by wiping them with a clean cloth or towel.
Step 4 – It could take as many 3 coats, so be prepared to repeat the polish and buff steps until the lights are clear again.
The Lasting Clean Method
Step 1 – Purchase a piece of 1500 grit, 1200 grit and 400 grit sandpaper from your local DIY store.
Step 2 – Use clean paper towels and rubbing alcohol to clean the headlight lenses at least two times.
Step 3 – Use the 400 grit sandpaper and a spray bottle filled with water to wet sand the headlights. It could be that the factory coating on the lights starts to come off. When this happens it is usually for the best to sand the coating off completely.
Step 4 – Use the 1500 and 1200 grit sandpaper to sand out the scratches made by the 400 grit sandpaper. If you have headlights that feature an interior texture which means you can’t see the bulb properly, you will normally only have to use the 1200 grit sandpaper. The headlights will look quite hazy, but very even and definitely not yellow!
Step 5 – Clean the headlights again with some paper towels
Step 6 – Take your car to the local auto body shop or garage and ask them to mask and spray the lights with a special plastic adhesion promoter. Then you need to spray at least 2 to 3 coats of chemical based hardening automotive clear coat. Depending on where you purchase it, this should be retailing at between $20 and $50.
As the name of this method suggests, the benefits of it is that the results could last years rather than the months it lasts when you use a mainly buffing method.
The Rain-X And Wax Method
Step 1 – Buy a kit, like Rain-X, that includes sealant, cleaning polish compound, lubricant and sandpaper pads. If you prefer you could buy all these products separately. If you do, then the sandpaper you need to purchase is the 2000, 1000 and 800 grit Wet/Dry sandpaper.
Step 2 – To avoid scratching or getting polish on the paintwork, cover the paint round the headlights with tape.
Step 3 – Spray the lubricant onto the sandpaper and headlights, using the lowest grit first.
Step 4 – use the lowest grit sandpaper to firmly clean the headlights until the yellow film starts to come off. The headlights will look cloudy and scratchy for this step until you have finished using the highest grit paper.
Step 5 – Repeat step 4 using the next grit sandpaper and your headlights will begin to look a lot less cloudy.
Step 6 – Repeat step 4 again using the highest grit of sandpaper. As long as you remember to cover all the scratches, your headlights will look pretty decent at this stage.
Step 7 – Use a rag with the cleaner (Rain-X for instance) and rub it over the headlights and then let it dry. Once it has dried you can then buff it off.
Step 8 – Use a clean rag to apply the plastic polish to the headlights in the same way you did in the previous step with the cleaner, allowing it to dry and then rubbing it off.
Step 9 – Spray some sealant onto another clean rag and apply this evenly and carefully over the whole headlights. Let this sit for a couple of minutes before wiping off the excess liquid.
Step 10 – Now your headlights should look brand spanking new!
There you have the 4 popular methods for how to clean headlights, which one do you prefer?