Headlight Cleaning Guide

JUST AS A NOTE BEFORE WE BEGIN – Any black marks you see or what appears to be dust is actually from

the inside of my headlight, that was there when I bought the car, I plan on writing up a guide for

cleaning the inside of the headlight in the next few days.

Before Pics:

caca5d6b2200b1472ee84ddd3cf442fe  Headlight Cleaning Guide
(Its not too dirty in the pic but up close there are scuff marks and imperfections)

Step 1:

Gather all the products you will be needing to do this cleaning. Its really not that much, in total

cost me maybe $30.

3 x White Terry Cloth Towels
1 x Rubbing Compound (Turtle or 3m I used Turtle since it was avail at the store I was at)
1 x Mequires PlastX
1 x Applicator Sponge (Like what you would use to apply wax)
1 x Waterproof sheet of 600 grit Sandpaper
1 x Waterproof sheet of 1500 grit Sandpaper
1 x Bucket of Soapy Water

0001c779a1b22bbbf5f50b5626427076  Headlight Cleaning Guide

Step 2:

Remove Headlights from Car and find a nice grassy spot to park yourself. Wet down the headlight with

some water. Note how foggy it kinda looks, most people will say thats on the inside and some of it is

yes, but a lot is on the outside. Letting gunk like tree sap, bugs or just dirty water onto the

headlights along with stones or other things hitting them can cause imperfections that cannot be

removed with just soap and water.

92ef3fad782c065ed1c22a55533611db  Headlight Cleaning Guide

Step 3:

Take some of the 600 Grit sand paper and with Medium/Light pressure make long diagonal strokes across

the headlight starting from the bottom and working your way up. REMEMBER!!! to keep the headlight wet

all the time while you’re doing this. Better to be overwet then under. The water helps clear any

debris and stops you from making larger scratches into the plastic with anything that may be on the

headlight itself.

926e7f6e3d4dff2367395d5d56bf7948  Headlight Cleaning Guide

The time this takes depends on how badly your headlight is damaged or dirty. I did mine for 3-4

minutes with Medium/Light pressure, remember we’re just doing this to scratch the surface and make it

rough. Once you’re gone over the entire headlight once or twice with the 600 grit your headlight will

look VERY hazzy don’t panic this is normal. Sorry I didn’t take a pic of what it looked like after the

600 Grit. The plastic will feel rough.

Step 4:

Wash headlight down to remove any debris from the surface. Again don’t worry if it looks VERY VERY

hazy this is normal, cmon we just took sandpaper to plastic it wont look like glass just yet
Now we take some of the 1500 Grit sand paper and do the exact same thing again. Keep the headlight wet

all the time you are donig this. Start from the bottom and work your way up making diagonal strokes

back and forth. (This is just to keep them uniform and I found doing it this way was easier to make it

over the hump our lowbeam light makes in the plastic) Remember to use Medium/Light pressure. The time

this will take is approx double what you spent with the 600 grit, We want to smooth out the majority

of the scratches. The headlight should be pretty much smooth at this point. Wash off Debris and let

headlight dry or use a cloth. It should look a little less hazy than the 600 grit.

10d8469388653a23256d730c34f7490a  Headlight Cleaning Guide

Step 5:

Grab a White Terry Cloth and the Tutrle/3m Rubbing Compound. Apply about a Quarter size to the cloth

df3793fb59b5f5bb017f6442c02f1cde  Headlight Cleaning Guide

This is where all your strength and Endurance you’ve been building up in your arm is going to come in.
Start at a one point on the headlight (I started from turn signal corner) and make small circles

rubbing this compound onto the light use HARD PRESSURE. You will notice the compound may have

particles in it thats just because its a finer grit than the sand paper we were using. This is going

to pretty much remove all the scratches that we put on with the 600 and 1500 Grit sandpaper.

7be51f1c438d5991535c67057ff8c897  Headlight Cleaning Guide

Keep rubbing this stuff in. You know you havn’t been rubbing enough unless your arm feels like it is

going to fall off and then some.

75e6f9853ab46c1e50fba3b4cc55a1ae  Headlight Cleaning Guide

KEEP RUBBING, CMON GUYS WE’RE ALMOST DONE…. kinda Remember to use HARD PRESSURE we want to smooth

out all those scratches. Once you have rubbed for a while in one area, use a clean part of the Terry

Cloth and wipe the excess compound off and start on a new spot. Another quater sized piece on a clean

part of the cloth and continue. You will notice how much clearer the headlight is compared to how the

like looked after 600/1500 grit sandpaper. Once you have gone over the entire headlight with the

rubbing compound wash off the excess and dry with a towel.

Note how much cleaner it looks compared to before we used the compound, BUT it is still not good

enough for those of us who want it to look like sex, For Step 6 some of you are going to hate me for

this or wish you never attempted to clean your headlights because your arm feels like death.

Step 6:


Use the 1500 grit sand paper making long strokes from left to right remember to keep the headlight

very wet while doing this. Use Medium/Light Pressure. Wash off the headlight once you are finished

with the sandpaper and use a clean part of the Terry Cloth with a quater sized piece of Rubbing

Compound and get back to rubbing circles.

Step 7:

Once you have finished wiping off the excess Rubbing Compound, let the headlight dry or use a cloth.

It should seem a little foggy but smooth like glass to the touch, if you still have chips or any

imperfections in the plastic you may need to go over it with sandpaper and rubbing compound one more


Time to break out the Meguires PlastX and applicator sponge

1553f88e01fda0c84495b8a7691ac610  Headlight Cleaning Guide

Take the sponge and apply another quarter sized gob.

da49af30f8212108b169787d1b4ec41b  Headlight Cleaning Guide

Start at one part of the headlight (I started at turning signal) and apply with medium/Light pressure

in circles onto the headlight. You may want to switch to your other arm if you havn’t already just to

give yourself a break.

(Side note, now you know how it felt for Daniel LaRusso in Karate Kid… wax on wax off grasshopper)

you will slowly start to see the plastic clearing up and almost becoming glass like. Once you have

finished in one area used a clean piece of Terry Cloth and just wipe clean the plastic to remove any

excess PlastX. (The plastic is probably so smooth you may even hear squeeking as you’re rubbing in


da1a9dcb4ba84b402a3cbed4fb231a9e  Headlight Cleaning Guide

You can see where I started on the turning signal and it becomes foggy towards the center of the

headlight where I hadn’t started rubbinb yet. (Note the sponge. I had some rubbing compound on my

figers so thats what the marks are, I was not using that side to apply the PlastX, those are just

finger imprints from where I was pushing on the pad)

f1d6fbcaa7ad0009e3fa472a47f3f8ac  Headlight Cleaning Guide

In this pic above you can see where I had moved to polishing the high beam area its slowly starting to

come togeather now. Remember to wipe away any excess goo once you’re done, you dont want it cooking

onto the plastic if you leave it there while you finish the rest of the headlight.

Once you are done and satisfied with the headlight, how clean it looks, no imperfections on the

outside and all that, go ahead and start on the other one. Here is a pic now that I’m done.

244170dc5259b46294c6eb0a4bcca5cc  Headlight Cleaning Guide

As you can see the headlight on the Left still is a little foggy near the highbeam area, I was not

actually done that one yet when I took the pic, but the headlight on the Right is done and

clear/smooth like glass.

Step 8:

Install headlights back on car and admire at what all your hard work has done.

b16c0de697b61945d9a745f78579116f  Headlight Cleaning Guide

As you can see all that I need to do now is clean the inside. Mostly the plastic covering within the

housing itself.
I hope this guide is helpful to others. good luck polishing.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.