How to clean plastic foggy headlight covers

Updated July 19, 2017

Does your car look perfect after a wash and wax except for those dull, clouded headlight lenses? Replacing damaged lenses can be costly, but you can restore those cloudy lenses to look nearly new. A quick trip to your local home improvement store and a few simple household items will do the trick.

Pop the bonnet on your vehicle. Clean away any debris around the headlight assemblies.

Mask off the area around the headlight lenses to prevent scratching the paint while you are working.

Soak the headlight lenses with a wet rag.

Dip the 600-grit sandpaper in the bucket of water. Sand each of the headlight lenses using a side-to-side motion for about ten minutes. Keep the lenses and your sandpaper wet.The lenses will look worse now than when you started, but don't worry, that will change.

Use a wet rag to wipe away any residue from the headlight lenses.

Dip the 1,000-grit sandpaper into the bucket of water. Sand each of the headlight lenses again for about ten minutes or until they begin to appear less cloudy. Use a side-to-side motion and keep the lenses and sandpaper wet.

Wipe away any residue with a wet rag.

Dip the 2,000-grit sandpaper in the bucket of water. Sand each lens until it looks new and clear. Be patient, this step takes a while.

Dry off the lenses with a dry rag. Once dry, they will look worse than when you started. Don't disparage, you will fix this in the following steps.

Use the abrasive rubbing compound to remove the deeper scratches that your sandpaper missed.

Remove the masking tape and put a coat of wax on each lens. The lenses should look much improved now. Reapply wax every month to protect the lenses.


Using an electric buffer with your rubbing compound can expedite the process.


Sand the lenses by hand as an electric sander will burn the plastic and ruin the lenses. Be careful not to burn the plastic if you use a buffer.

Things You'll Need

  • One bucket of water
  • Two rags
  • Masking tape
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • 1,000-grit sandpaper
  • 2,000-grit sandpaper
  • Rubbing compound
  • Wax
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Ava Fails has worked professionally as a writer for over five years in genres ranging from technical writing to web content development. In addition to writing, Fails' educational background includes five years of study in computer graphics.