How to Remove Haze from Headlights


Darryl asked: How do I clean the haze off of headlight covers?

Exposure to outdoor elements damages the finish on headlight covers over time. This damage produces a haze over the surface of the cover that hinders the amount of light coming through. For safety and best performance, it is important to remove this haze or replace the covers. There are kits available that will make the task easy and effective.

You Will Need:

  • Drill
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Soft cloths
  • Towels
  • Headlight restoration kit

Steps to Remove the Haze:

  1. Before beginning the restoration process, it is important to wash the headlights completely. Skipping this step will result in the debris being “ground” into the surface causing further damage.
  2. Wash the headlights with soapy water, scrubbing carefully to remove all dead bugs, debris, etc.
  3. Dry the headlights with a soft cloth.
  4. Most kits will include polishing compounds and buffing pads. These pads commonly attach to a drill to give a faster buffing motion than completing the job by hand.
  5. Start with the finest level of sanding for the level of haze. There will be guidelines present with the instructions that accompany the restoration kit.
  6. Follow the guidelines provided with the kit for the proper application processes.
  7. Apply plenty of polishing compound for the most effective cleaning.
  8. When using the buffing/sanding pads, keep the pads moving. This will prevent any areas from overheating from the friction of the pads.
  9. While it may seem that more power is better, it does not take a fast spinning motion or excessive pressure to remove these surface damages. Use a slow drill with light pressure for the best results.
  10. Rinsing the area completely throughout the process will help to see how it is progressing and identify any areas that need extra attention.
  11. When the process is complete, wash the headlights again to remove any remaining compounds.
  12. Dry with a soft cloth.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • It is helpful to start on the outer edges of the light. That way, if the results are not desirable, you haven’t damaged the center of the cover.
  • Plain gel toothpaste can also be used. Rub it on the cover and allow it to set overnight. Buff it away the following day with a foam pad. It can be attached to a drill arbor for easier buffing.
  • If you’re looking for a cheaper route, rubbing compound and cheap sandpaper can be purchased at hardware stores for significantly less than a kit from the automotive store. However, it requires some experience and knowledge of exactly what products you need.
  • Understand that doing this process, removes some or all of the protective coating on the cover. It will require more attentive care to keep it clean and in good condition. It may be helpful to apply a new clear coat to the newly finished surface to provide extra protection.


  1. Toothpaste (not the gel kind, just regular old cheap style toothpaste) and a wet washcloth works quite well and will cost you about $2. Just don’t let the toothpaste dry on your car.

    As a bonus, your car smells Minty-Fresh when you are done!

  2. I’ve found that using a paste glass cooktop cleaner along with a moist sponge and a soft cloth works very well, and is a fraction of the cost of the expensive headlight restoration kits.

  3. A cheap, easy way to restore headlights to new again is to use toothpaste, wet (cotton) cloth, and window/glass cleaner. Apply toothpaste to the damp rag. Spray glass cleaner onto the headlight, and vigorously scrub the towel in a circular motion. Be sure not to let the toothpaste dry on the light. Voila! Good as new. Repeat the steps about every other month.

  4. I am curious, the original post says to let the toothpaste set overnight, yet you guys are saying NOT to let it dry, so who is right???

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