How to clean acrylic headlight lenses

Updated February 21, 2017

There is no way to protect the headlights on your motor vehicle from the wear and tear of use and exposure. Because they are on the exterior of your vehicle, the acrylic lenses that shield your lights collect dirt and grime from general use. They also suffer from oxidation, a natural fogging of the acrylic that occurs when the surface is exposed to air and water. These build-ups can dull the lights, making travel more dangerous for yourself, your passengers and others on the road. Keep your acrylic headlight lenses clean to make sure you can see clearly and drive safely.

Purchase an acrylic lens cleaning product. Some automotive speciality stores may sell these products, but they are more readily available on the internet from Web sites such as

Purchase an acrylic lens surface conditioner. Many cleaning kits will include this conditioner; if not, purchase separately from the same retailer as the cleaning kit.

Mix hot water and dish detergent in a bucket until the mixture suds. Soak a wash rag or scrub brush in the mixture.

Scrub surface dirt and grime from the headlight lenses using the rag or brush. Rinse with clean water and allow to dry completely before continuing.

Dab a small amount of acrylic lens cleaner onto a paper towel or soft cloth. The amount of cleaner needed may vary by product, but it will generally be just one or two drops.

Apply a thin layer of the cleaner to the headlight lens with the soft cloth. Spread it evenly across the surface of the lens. Allow to dry completely.

Apply a thin layer of surface conditioner in the same way as the cleaner. This will help to slow the process of oxidation in the future.


Read all instructions and warnings included with cleaning products before using them on your headlights. If possible, test a small amount of the cleaning product on a spare piece of acrylic to be sure it will not damage the headlight lenses. Apply surface conditioner each time you wash your car to protect the headlights from heavy layers of oxidation.


Many hardware and automotive stores will sell headlight cleaners that include directions for sanding and polishing the headlights. Only use these kits if you intend to refinish and resurface your headlight lenses. Sanding and polishing can ruin the surface of the acrylic.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Hose
  • Bucket
  • Detergent
  • Rag or scrub brush
  • Acrylic lens cleaner
  • Acrylic surface conditioner
  • Paper towel or soft cloth
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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.