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How To Clean Yellow Car Headlights


Clear, bright headlights are essential for safe driving, providing visibility during nighttime journeys and adverse weather conditions. However, over time, headlights can become yellowed and foggy due to exposure to UV rays, environmental contaminants, and general wear and tear. Not only does this diminish the aesthetic appeal of your vehicle, but it also compromises the effectiveness of your headlights, reducing their brightness and clarity.


Fortunately, restoring yellow headlights to their former glory is a relatively simple process that can be done at home with the right materials and techniques. In this guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of cleaning yellow headlights effectively, restoring them to their original clarity and brightness. 


From identifying the causes of yellowing to selecting the appropriate cleaning products and methods, this guide will provide you with comprehensive instructions to revive your headlights and improve your driving experience. Whether you’re a car enthusiast looking to maintain your vehicle’s appearance or a safety-conscious driver prioritizing visibility on the road.

How To Clean Yellow Car Headlights

How do you clean yellowed headlights?

Apply a little aluminum polishing compound, which you can find at most any hardware or automotive supplies shop, to the headlights and spread it in small circular motions with a soft dry cloth. It’ll self-dry with a hazy look. Buff that haze by wiping with a clean cloth.

Using Toothpaste and Baking Soda

Mix equal parts of toothpaste and baking soda to form a paste. Apply the mixture onto the headlights using a clean cloth, rubbing it in circular motions. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off with water. Repeat the process if necessary until the yellowing diminishes. Finally, wipe the headlights dry with a clean cloth.

Using Commercial Headlight Restoration Kits

Purchase a headlight restoration kit from an automotive store, following the instructions provided. Typically, these kits contain abrasive compounds, sandpaper, and polishing pads. Begin by sanding the headlights with the provided sandpaper to remove the yellowed layer. Then, apply the compound and polish the headlights until they regain their clarity. Finish by sealing the headlights with a protective coating to prevent future yellowing.

Why do car headlights turn yellow?

Oxidation: Acrylic headlights oxidize when exposed to UV light. Headlight lenses come with a clear top coat to help prevent this, but eventually, the coating wears off, and sunlight turns the hard plastic yellow.


Over time, the plastic covers of car headlights undergo oxidation due to exposure to UV radiation, environmental pollutants, and weather elements. This oxidation process causes the clear plastic to turn yellow or cloudy. UV radiation breaks down the polymers in the plastic, leading to a chemical reaction that alters the appearance of the headlight covers. This phenomenon is particularly common in older vehicles with traditional polycarbonate headlight lenses.

Wear and Tear

Another reason for yellowing headlights is wear and tear. Constant exposure to road debris, such as dirt, rocks, and insects, can cause scratches and abrasions on the headlight covers. These micro-damages disrupt the smooth surface of the plastic, making it more susceptible to discoloration and yellowing over time. Additionally, harsh cleaning chemicals or improper maintenance practices can accelerate the deterioration of the headlight covers, exacerbating the yellowing process. Regular cleaning and protective measures can help prolong the clarity and brightness of car headlights.


How do I get my headlights clear again?

Car wax can be used to restore the clarity and shine of the headlights. Apply a small amount of car wax to the headlights and rub it in with a soft cloth or sponge. Let the wax dry completely, then buff the headlights with a clean cloth to remove any excess wax.

Cleaning Your Headlights

If your headlights have become cloudy or yellowed over time, restoring their clarity can improve visibility and aesthetics. Start by cleaning the headlights with a mixture of soap and water to remove any surface grime. Next, apply a specialized headlight restoration kit, which typically includes sandpaper or polishing compound to remove the outer layer of oxidation. Follow the instructions carefully, using circular motions to buff the surface until it’s smooth. Finish by applying a UV-resistant sealant to protect the headlights from future damage and maintain their clarity for longer.

Preventative Maintenance

To avoid future headlight cloudiness, regularly clean your headlights and apply a protective coating. Park your vehicle in shaded areas when possible to reduce UV exposure, which accelerates yellowing. Additionally, consider installing headlight covers or aftermarket protective films to shield the headlights from debris and environmental factors. Periodically inspect the headlights for signs of oxidation or damage, and address any issues promptly to prevent further deterioration. By incorporating these maintenance practices into your routine, you can keep your headlights clear and ensure optimal visibility while driving.

How To Clean Yellow Car Headlights

Does toothpaste work on yellow headlights?

If your dirty headlights are physically damaged, toothpaste won’t do much to restore them to their former glory. But if they’re covered with chemicals and dust from the road, toothpaste could actually provide a potent polish.

Effectiveness of Toothpaste on Yellow Headlights

Many car owners swear by the efficacy of toothpaste in restoring the clarity of yellowed headlights. The abrasive nature of toothpaste, combined with its mild bleaching properties, can help remove the outer layer of oxidation and grime that causes headlights to appear yellowed.

Steps to Use Toothpaste on Yellow Headlights

Toothpaste can be applied to yellow headlights with a soft cloth or sponge. Rub the toothpaste onto the headlights in circular motions for several minutes, ensuring thorough coverage. Rinse off the toothpaste with water and inspect the headlights for improvement. Repeat the process if necessary until desired results are achieved.

What is the best home remedy for yellow headlights?

Mix two parts distilled white vinegar and one part baking soda in a clean container. Stir or shake the mixture to combine. Dip one of the microfiber cleaning cloths in the mixture. Rub it onto each headlight, spending a few minutes on each one.

Cleaning with Toothpaste

Yellowed headlights can be effectively restored using toothpaste. Apply a small amount of toothpaste directly onto a clean cloth or sponge. Rub the toothpaste onto the headlights using circular motions, focusing on areas with the most discoloration. Rinse thoroughly with water and repeat if necessary. Toothpaste contains mild abrasives that help to remove the yellowing and restore clarity to the headlights, leaving them looking much brighter and clearer.

Vinegar and Baking Soda Solution

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and baking soda to create a paste. Apply the paste onto the headlights with a clean cloth or sponge. Allow the paste to sit for a few minutes before scrubbing the headlights with a soft brush or sponge. Rinse off the paste with water and repeat the process if needed. The acidic properties of vinegar combined with the abrasive nature of baking soda work together to effectively remove yellowing and restore the headlights to their original brightness.

Does baking soda clean yellow headlights?

The gentle abrasive qualities of toothpaste and baking soda will gently scrub away any dirt on the headlight, so use a little elbow grease to rub it in. Once thoroughly scrubbed, rinse the headlight with water. Repeat the process with more cleaning paste three to four times, rinsing with water between each application.

The Science Behind Baking Soda and Headlight Cleaning

Yellowing of headlights is often caused by the oxidation of the polycarbonate plastic covering, which creates a hazy layer. Baking soda, with its mild abrasive properties, can effectively remove this layer and restore clarity to headlights. When mixed with water to form a paste, baking soda works to gently scrub away the oxidation without damaging the plastic. Additionally, its alkaline nature helps to neutralize acids and break down grime, further aiding in the cleaning process.

Steps to Clean Yellow Headlights with Baking Soda

To clean yellow headlights using baking soda, start by mixing it with water to form a paste. Apply the paste to the headlights and gently scrub in circular motions using a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly with water and repeat the process if necessary until the desired level of clarity is achieved. Finally, dry the headlights with a clean cloth. This simple and affordable method can significantly improve visibility and enhance the appearance of your vehicle’s headlights.

Can yellow headlights be restored?

Hazy yellow headlights can be fixed long-term, but not with silicone spray. All you need is a headlight polishing kit. Don’t use it with a drill, just use the sand paper in the order specified in the instructions, but manually sand it in linear strokes.

Understanding Yellow Headlights

Yellow headlights, often caused by oxidation of the plastic lens, can significantly reduce visibility on the road, posing safety concerns. However, restoration techniques exist to address this issue. One common method involves using a headlight restoration kit, which typically includes sandpaper, polishing compound, and a protective coating. These kits are designed to remove the outer layer of oxidation, restoring clarity to the lens and improving light output. Alternatively, professional restoration services may offer more comprehensive solutions, such as wet sanding and UV protective coatings, to ensure long-lasting results.

DIY vs. Professional Restoration

While DIY kits provide a cost-effective solution, professional restoration offers expertise and advanced techniques for optimal results. DIY methods may require significant time and effort, with varying outcomes depending on skill level. In contrast, professional services utilize specialized equipment and products to achieve superior clarity and durability. Additionally, professionals can inspect the headlights for underlying issues such as cracks or moisture intrusion, addressing them to prevent future damage. Ultimately, whether opting for a DIY approach or professional restoration depends on individual preference, budget, and desired outcome.

Is it possible to remove yellowing from plastic?

There are many ways you can try to tackle these stains, such as soaking the plastic in bleach, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide. If you would rather try scrubbing the stain instead of soaking it, try using lemon juice, salt, or a baking soda paste to remove the yellow stain.

Causes of Yellowing

Plastic yellowing is typically caused by exposure to UV light, heat, and certain chemicals over time. UV radiation breaks down the polymer chains in plastic, leading to a yellowish hue. Heat accelerates this process by increasing the rate of chemical reactions. Additionally, some chemicals, such as those found in cleaning agents, can react with the plastic and cause discoloration. These factors are compounded by environmental conditions, making yellowing a common issue for plastic items exposed to sunlight or stored in warm environments.

Remedies and Prevention

Several methods can help remove or reduce yellowing from plastic. One approach is to use specialized cleaning agents designed to restore the plastic’s color. These products often contain chemicals that break down the yellowed layers and reveal the original color underneath. Alternatively, mechanical methods like sanding or polishing can be effective, although they require careful execution to avoid damaging the plastic. Prevention is key to avoiding yellowing in the first place. Storing plastic items away from direct sunlight, using UV-protective coatings, and maintaining moderate temperatures can help prolong their appearance and integrity. Regular cleaning with mild detergents can also prevent the buildup of yellowing agents on the surface of the plastic.

How To Clean Yellow Car Headlights


Restoring yellowed headlights is not only essential for maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your vehicle but also crucial for ensuring optimal visibility and safety on the road. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can effectively remove the buildup of oxidation and grime, returning your headlights to their original clarity and brightness.


Firstly, starting with a thorough cleaning using household items such as toothpaste or baking soda paste can significantly diminish surface-level discoloration. Secondly, utilizing commercial headlight restoration kits provides more specialized compounds and tools to tackle stubborn yellowing and haze. Finally, applying a protective sealant after restoration helps prolong the clarity of your headlights and prevents future deterioration.


Taking the time to clean and maintain your headlights not only enhances the overall appearance of your vehicle but also contributes to safer driving conditions, particularly during nighttime or adverse weather conditions. By incorporating these simple yet effective techniques into your regular car maintenance routine, you can ensure that your headlights remain clear, bright, and reliable for miles to come.


Vaishnavi vaish

Vaishnavi is an automotive enthusiast and writer with a passion for all things cars. With years of experience in the automotive industry, Vaishnavi brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Vroom's platform. Whether it's dissecting the latest car models, exploring industry trends, or delving into the intricacies of automotive technology, Vaishnavi is dedicated to providing readers with comprehensive and insightful content. From performance reviews to in-depth car comparisons, Vaishnavi strives to deliver accurate and engaging information to help readers make informed decisions about their next vehicle purchase. Explore the world of automobiles with Vaishnavi on Vroom and stay updated on the latest developments in the automotive world.

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