Worn-down headlights are not only hard to see out of, but they’re also a safety hazard. If you spend time driving on the freeway or highway, your headlights must be in the best condition possible.
Fortunately, cleaning car headlights with baking soda is easy and inexpensive.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to clean your car headlights with baking soda.
What You’ll Need:
- Baking soda
- Warm water
- Small Bowl
- Sponge or toothbrush
- Towel or microfiber cloth for drying
1. Wash your headlights with soap and warm water.
2. Dry with a soft cloth, like a microfiber cloth
3. Then, make a baking soda paste by mixing two parts baking soda with one part water in a bowl.
4. Apply this mixture to your headlights using a sponge or old toothbrush, and scrub gently.
5. Rinse off with clean water, then dry again with a soft cloth or towel. If your headlights are still hazy, repeat as necessary.
What Kinds of Car Headlights Can I Clean with Baking Soda?
Baking soda is a versatile cleaning tool that can work on most kinds of car headlights. If you’re not sure whether it will work for your headlights, some quick research should tell you what kind of coating they have.
Three types of protection can render baking soda ineffective: a clear coating, a UV coating, and a plastic or acrylic lens cover instead of the glass headlight cover.
If your vehicle’s headlights have any sort of protective coating or layer over the top of them, it is imperative to avoid using baking soda as an abrasive cleaner if you don’t want to damage your headlights.
With other types of lights (such as HID or halogen), you can remove the protective layer first if it’s removable without damaging anything else around the light.
However, many modern vehicles don’t allow you to do this—the protective layer is part of the housing itself and cannot be removed without ruining everything. It would be best to take your vehicle into an auto parts supply store in this case and ask them which type of cleaner they recommend for your particular make and model.
Other Household Items to Try to Clean Your Car Headlights
- Toothpaste: To clean my car headlights, I tried a few different kinds of toothpaste, but the most effective was white whitening toothpaste. It helped erase years of grime from each headlight lens, and the bright white hue allowed it to reflect light more effectively.
- Vinegar: Another solution for removing gunk from car headlights was vinegar. I tried a fresh bottle of white distilled vinegar that did an amazing job at getting rid of baked-on gunk! You can find these items in any grocery store or even just a regular supermarket.
- Bug spray: Bug spray can help prevent yellowing and cloudiness in your headlights, and many people consider it a quick remedy. By eliminating oxidation, DEET, a potent component found in many bug sprays, may clean and restore headlights. But it wouldn’t be my first option because bug sprays are toxic and bad for the environment.
- Turtle Wax: A quick and easy way to remove dirt and grease stains on car headlights is by applying wax. Just place some wax over the stain, allow it to sit for five minutes, and then gently buff off with a soft cloth (or wash with warm soapy water). Wax will help restore the clarity of your windows without sacrificing their protective properties against rain and heat damage.
- Lemon and Salt: You can use lemon and salt to clean your car headlights. It’s also something that you may have never done before but you’ve probably heard of it. The way it works is you get a lemon and cut it in half. You can then take one of the halves and dip it in salt. That’s going to make the lemon much more abrasive. With the lemon half, rub on your car headlight surface in a circular motion for about two minutes. This will help break down any oxidation that has built up on your headlight surface over time. Once you’ve done this, rinse off the headlight with water.
How Often Should You Clean Car Headlights?
Generally speaking, how often you clean your headlights depends on how much you drive.
It’s a good idea to do a thorough cleaning every few months if you’re driving around all of the time, but if you only use your car for errands once or twice a week, then cleaning them once every six months will suffice.
Your headlights should always be cleaned before they get so dirty that they become hazy and opaque; when that happens, it can take much more effort to bring them back to their former shine.
Baking soda is an effective agent for cleaning car headlights because it has grit, but not so much grit that it will scratch plastic surfaces. It’s also alkaline, which means that it helps dissolve grease and oil — two things that can build up on headlights and make them cloudy.
Baking soda is great because it works well as part of an ensemble cast — in this case, as part of our DIY cleaning solution (along with soap and water).
Finally, baking soda is cheap and environmentally friendly! Not only does this bode well for your pocketbook, but your conscience too: avoiding expensive store-bought kits means less waste adds up in landfills every year.
If you want to learn more ways to use baking soda around the house, check out my article on how to use baking soda to clean your windows.
Thanks for reading!
-Baking Soda Guy
Cover image by Luis Wilker WilkerNet from Pixabay