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How to clean plastic headlights

Over time, plastic headlights can become quite dirty and even cloudy due to oxidation. The good news is they are very easy to clean. If you have been neglecting your car’s plastic headlights, here are the steps you need to take to get them clean.

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  1. Get the right products. While using regular glass cleaner may work for some plastic headlights, if you are dealing with a lot of caked on grime, or if you have oxidation issues, you will need to get a stronger cleaner. Most auto parts stores will stock these cleaners. Look for a cleaner that also offers scratch removal for the best results.

  2. Get a soft cloth. You will need to have a soft cloth on hand for this process. Do not use regular paper towels, since these can make scratches worse. A simple old T-shirt makes a great cloth, or you can also use a chami cloth. This is a type of cloth that is commonly used on cars due to its softness and ability to bring out great shine.

  3. Read the directions on the cleaner. Most cleaners are simple to use, but it is a good idea to read the directions first. You will most likely need to spray the cleaner onto the headlights, but you may need to take a few other steps first, depending on the cleaner.

  4. Start cleaning. Apply the cleaner and start rubbing it into the plastic using circular motions. You may need to scrub a little harder if you are dealing with headlights that are particularly dirty or scratched. If necessary, repeat the process until your headlights look new once again.

  5. Tip

    If you are in a hurry, there is a great tip that automotive enthusiasts swear by. Take some white toothpaste, making sure it is not the gel kind, and apply it to your headlights. Use a soft cloth to wipe it in and then rub off any excess toothpaste. Your plastic headlights will look new.

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Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloth or chami
  • Plastic headlight cleaner

About the Author

Kate McFarlin

Kate McFarlin is a licensed insurance agent with extensive experience in covering topics related to marketing, small business, personal finance and home improvement. She began her career as a Web designer and also specializes in audio/video mixing and design.

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