Informational Guide

How to Defog Headlights

It is not difficult to learn how to defog your headlights. Follow our easy guide and steps.

When it comes to your automotive headlights, the last thing you want to deal with is a hazy lens. Discolored headlights create on-road problems, which could lead to an accident. 

Thankfully, it’s not that difficult to learn how to defog headlights. Follow our steps if you want to know how to defog car headlights.

When the headlights become dingy and cloudy, it becomes harder to see. Not only can this hinder your visibility, but it could lead to an accident if you can’t see an obstacle at night.

Plus, some states require car inspections that demand you to have clear headlights. You don’t want to fail a state inspection because of your headlights.

clear headlight

What Causes Headlights to Go Foggy?

Factory and aftermarket headlights can become foggy simply because of condensation or moisture that has gotten into the assembly. Oxidation is always a factor as well, especially when the headlights are exposed to UV light.

Sometimes you can prevent this with a clear coat. Over time, the headlights take abuse from flying debris, dirt, and chemicals that can wreak havoc on the lenses. Thankfully, the majority of these causes can be reversed, with only a few requiring headlight replacements.

How to Clean Foggy Headlights

Things you’ll Need

The supplies you’ll need depends on what method of cleaning you choose. As you wonder - how to defog my headlights – consider having some of these supplies on-hand.

It doesn’t need to cost much as you learn how to defog headlights at home. In fact, many of the supplies you might already have at your house.

DIY Headlight Defogging/Cleaning

If you want to know how to defog headlight covers, consider using a headlight restoration kit. Simply follow the directions on the package, which will likely incorporate cleaning the headlights first to remove any debris. You can also wipe the headlight surface with denatured alcohol or a vinegar bath to remove any contaminants. These are great solutions for people trying to find out how to defog headlights DIY.

Another common tactic is to learn how to defog car headlights with toothpaste. With toothpaste, it’s best to choose an abrasive type that can grind away at the dirt. This is the same philosophy used when cleaning with a baking soda paste.

Rumor has it that you can also learn how to defog headlights with WD40. Since this is a product most people already have around the house, you won’t need to spend more to gain visibility. If all else fails, you could learn how to defog headlights with bug spray. It doesn’t appear to matter what brand you use.

Headlight Restoration

While many of the above methods are effective at learning how to defog a headlight lens and clean them, you might prefer a professional headlight restoration job instead. To do this, you will follow these steps.

  1. 1
    Sand down the oxidized outer layer of the lenses. You will want to wet sand for this to be effective.
  2. 2
    Polish out the scratches.
  3. 3
    Wax the headlights.
  4. 4
    Use a headlight sealant to protect the lens from future UV damage.
  5. 5
    If the seal allows water into the headlight assembly, make sure you add silicone sealant to create a watertight barrier. Otherwise, condensation will continue to infiltrate the structure.

Tips to Keep Headlights from Turning Yellow

While it doesn’t take a lot of effort to learn how to defog headlights with toothpaste, this isn’t something you want to deal with often.

Instead of discovering how to defog your car headlights, take precautions to reduce the yellowing hue from happening in the first place. Start by parking your car in the shade. The UV rays damage the headlight lens and lead to oxidation. Ideally, it would be best to park in a garage, which also protects the vehicle from bugs, dirt, and contamination.

You also want to wash your car often, paying close attention to the headlights. When you are finished washing the car, it’s wise to polish the headlights and use a wax on the surface. With a few simple steps, you find that you have to clean your headlights less frequently and gain more visibility.

yellow headlights

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How can I defog headlights from the inside?

When you follow our steps above, you aren’t learning how to defog headlights from the inside. Instead, you are merely cleaning off the outside residue. If you want to clean off the gunk inside, you will need to remove the headlight assembly. Once you have removed this part and taken out the bulbs, you can apply some denatured alcohol into the body. Make sure you wipe it out until all of the liquid has been removed. You can also use a blow dryer on a low setting to speed up the drying process. Considering how simple it is to learn how to defog inside headlights, you might choose this method above the surface cleaning options.

How much does it cost to defog headlights at a mechanic?

If the mechanic is simply restoring the headlight lens, you might be looking at up to $200. However, if the lenses need to be removed, the cost will vary based on how difficult it is to get the assembly out.

What household items can I use to clean plastic headlights?

As you learn how to defog your headlights, you find that many household items can be used. If you have WD40, bug spray, or toothpaste lying around, any of these products will work.

How do you clean cloudy headlight covers?

For a quick clean, consider using toothpaste, denatured alcohol, or a headlight restoration kit on the lenses. If you need to clean the inside of the covers, you will need to remove the assembly first.


You don’t have to live with dingy, cloudy headlights any longer. The process of cleaning headlights is simple and easy, plus it doesn’t require any previous automotive experience. Follow our tips above to see clearly again.