How to Clean Yellow Headlights: A Step-by-Step Guide

By: Kris LeSueur   |   26 Feb 2024

If you've noticed your headlights turning yellow and cloudy over time, you're not alone. This common issue not only detracts from your car's appearance but also poses a serious safety hazard on the road. However, the good news is that restoring yellowing headlights is easier than you might think. Here's a simple guide to help you clean your yellow headlights and improve your driving experience.

Understanding the Causes

Before diving into the cleaning process, it's essential to understand why headlights become yellowed or foggy. Several factors contribute to this issue.


Exposure to UV rays and environmental pollutants can cause the polycarbonate lens of headlights to develop microscopic cracks, resulting in a cloudy appearance.

Road Damage

Debris and rocks kicked up from the road can scratch the lens, creating a hazy or opaque surface.

Dirt and Chemicals

Over time, a layer of dirt and chemicals accumulates on the headlight lens, diminishing its transparency and reducing the effectiveness of the headlights.

Water Vapor

Trapped moisture inside the headlight housing can refract light from the bulb, leading to a diffused or less focused beam.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

To restore your yellow headlights to their former glory, follow these steps below.

Prepare the Headlight Surface

Start by removing any dirt or debris from the headlight surface with soapy water and a soft-bristled brush. Dry the headlights thoroughly with a clean towel, and use masking tape or plastic sheets to protect surrounding areas from damage.

Apply the Headlight Cleanser

Use a headlight cleaner or restoration kit to apply a generous amount of cleaning solution to the headlight lens. Rub the solution onto the surface in slow, circular motions, using a clean towel. For stubborn stains, gently scrub with a soft brush to avoid scratching the lens.

You’ll find that most DIY fans will recommend using toothpaste or baking sonda and vinegar for restoring your headlights. However, it might be better to just stick with cleansers formulated for cars to avoid any issues.

Remove Dirt and Cleanser

Wipe away any residual cleanser with a clean towel, ensuring the lens is completely dry and free of debris. If necessary, spritz stubborn spots with clean water and polish until dry.

Repeat as Needed

If the headlights still appear yellowish after the first cleaning round, repeat the process until you're satisfied with the results. Once the headlights look clean and sparkly, remove the tape or plastic sheets from the edges.

Apply Car Wax

For added protection and shine, apply a coat of car wax to the headlight lens. Buff the wax with a clean cloth to remove excess polish and leave the headlights looking bright and glossy. This step is optional, but it won’t hurt to improve the appearance of you car’s headlight.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean your yellow headlights and enhance both the appearance and performance of your vehicle. Say goodbye to foggy headlights and enjoy improved visibility on the road!

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