How to Clean a Cloudy Headlight Lens

Written by j. johnson
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How to Clean a Cloudy Headlight Lens
Vehicle maintenance includes cleaning your headlight lens. (headlights image by jimcox40 from

If you take pride in the condition of your vehicle, then you want every last spot to look great. One spot that can be a challenge for some vehicle owners to keep clean is the headlight lens. This part of your vehicle has a tendency to get cloudy because it's actually made of an aerodynamic plastic material that's porous and expands when it gets hot. This allows debris to build up, causing a cloudy appearance. With a little know-how and effort, you can clean your cloudy headlight lens.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Mild soap
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Rags
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • 1,000-grit sandpaper
  • 2,000 grit sandpaper
  • Abrasive rubbing compound
  • Vehicle wax

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  1. 1

    Clean away any surface dirt from your headlight lens with a mild soap, water and a clean rag.

  2. 2

    Cover up the area of your vehicle surrounding the headlight lens with masking tape. This will protect your paint job from getting scratched or damaged.

  3. 3

    Fill a bucket with clean water, and soak a piece of 600-grit sandpaper. Make sure the headlight lens is also saturated.

  4. 4

    Sand the headlight lens with the soaked sand paper for approximately 10 minutes. Use a back-and-forth motion for best results.

  5. 5

    Remove any leftover residue with the rag after you've sanded for about 10 minutes. Repeat the sanding process using the 1,000-grit sandpaper. Make sure the sandpaper and the lens stay wet, and sand for a full 10 minutes.

  6. 6

    Remove the residue once again, and repeat the process using the 2,000-grit sandpaper. This sandpaper will eventually restore your headlight lens and clean away the cloudy appearance. Continue sanding until your headlight lens looks like new. This might take about 20 minutes.

  7. 7

    Dry off your headlight lens, and remove the scratches left behind with an abrasive rubbing compound.

  8. 8

    Peel the tape off of your vehicle, and apply a coat of wax to your headlight lens. This will help protect the lens from damage and becoming cloudy in the future.

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