cleaning headlights
Don’t pay the guys at the car shop $20 to clean your hazy headlights or buy those expensive cleaners, because you can do it yourself for free in five minutes. The cleaner you need is probably in your pantry or laundry room or both. I have heard that you can do this with plain white tooth paste but all I have is the orange citrus flavored kind. So I thought baking soda should work just fine because that pretty much what white toothpaste is. And you know what, it works like magic and it’s super easy, quick and free. Here’s how to clean headlights in five minutes or less with baking soda.

How to Clean Headlights

Step One: Make a thick paste of baking soda and water.
You’ll want to use roughly a 2:1 ratio of baking soda to water.

how to clean headlights

I’m using a microfiber cloth but the paste is so thick it doesn’t really matter.

Step Two: Smear paste onto headlights and buff.
Don’t let the paste sit too long and dry out, the water will make removing dirt and buffing the surface easier.

Step Three: Rinse baking soda off and dry.
If there is any leftover baking soda on your clean headlight, it’ll leave a haze.

remove haze from headlights


That’s it! Grand total of five minutes to clean headlights (unless you’re taking pictures then maybe ten). I used my all purpose vinegar cleaner to rinse off the baking soda off of the headlights. My microfiber cloth was more useful here drying off the solution and picking up any other lingering dirt. I was really amazed at how much dirt I got off of the headlight and how clear it was after (If you want to, now would be a good time to apply a coat of wax to your headlights). The really nice thing after cleaning the headlights is that they seem brighter and less dreary. Yay for being able to see in the dark better!

Happy Cleaning!


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48 Responses to 5 Minutes to Clean Headlights

  1. Erin says:

    I’ve been meaning to do this! It looks like it works great. There are so many great uses for baking soda!

  2. What a difference! Makes me want to try this on lots of things. Thanks for linking to the Craftastic Monday party at Sew Can Do!

  3. I’ve heard you can use toothpaste too. Good idea on the baking soda…I actually have that on hand. Thanks for sharing at the Frugal Crafty Home blog hop!

  4. Robin says:

    I found you from Sugar Bee Crafts!. I host Fluster Creative Muster Party on Wednesdays and I would love it if you would come by and party with us. Hope to see you there!

    Hugs, Smiles, and Blessings,

    Fluster Buster

  5. Marie says:

    Thanks for the awesome tip. Just stumbled upon your blog for the first time – it’s awesome and a keeper for sure!

  6. Diane says:

    Great Idea, Angie, there are so many cleaning uses for baking soda! Thanks!

      • David says:

        Angela thank you for sharing this article. I just have a question: can you tell how much baking soda to water you used to make this cleaner? Also to debunk the toothpaste cleaning of head lights. It’s not meant to be done just by hand but by a air powered sander/buffer! I saw a segment on one of the Saturday car shows that showed cleaning lenses with white toothpaste but using the air tool to buff it into the lense better. Believe me I tried the toothpaste deal before I saw the show.

        Thanks Again,

        • Hi David,

          You’re welcome! I used roughly a 2:1 baking soda to water, just enough water to make the baking soda workable but not runny. You want the baking soda to stay on the headlight and not run off where you don’t want it.

          Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Ronnie says:

    My thoughts are that if this works, there are a lot of companies making money on us suckers by selling us headlight cleaner! Shame on them, and thanks ANG for telling us about the baking soda!

  8. Sandy Britton says:

    Thank you so much for this tip! I spent $18 on a cleaning kit at the parts store last year! It took more like 30 minutes and a lot of trouble! I don’t think they were any better off than when we started! I will definitly have to try this!!!

  9. Suz says:

    …thanks for the tip Angie! Gotta love the baking soda! Hope you don’t mind me following you around on your Blog = )…

  10. Gloria says:

    That is so awesome!! I am stopping by from The Resourceful Gals. Thanks for letting me know about your blog. I will be using your great tips!

  11. Therese White says:

    It only works on the outside of the hedlamp. Some headlamps seals will go bad and the dullness will be on the inside.

  12. Rod says:

    Does this work on both Plastic and Glass headlights ?

  13. Debbie Walters Staley says:

    We have a couple of cars with plastic headlights and a couple with glass….does this work for both?

  14. Trieste says:

    It didn’t work for me. I worked at for ten minutes and at the end even added a bit of vinager and let it sit for a few then scrubbed some more. I will say it helped, one headlight is mostly clear and the other one must be to far gone for this to work. Maybe I’ll try the tooth paste.

  15. Barbara McCurry Brett says:

    I must be doing something wrong. I tried this method and my headlights are still cloudy, almost like it’s on the inside. Is there any solution to this issue?

    • I did notice when I cleaned mine there was some dirt inside of the headlight, so there might be some on the inside, which you could try to clean if you remove the actual light bulb. I don’t know how to remove the light bulb unfortunately. I was okay with a imperfect result. However, I would try another application or two and be sure to use a little muscle when buffing the headlight.

  16. Corrosion Warning says:

    Be careful with getting baking soda on the car itself. I started using baking soda as a body scrub a few weeks ago. (Works great! Mix it in your hand with a little soap.) I used a brand new razor in the shower, and the next day it had completely corroded and rusted — 24 hours later. I was shocked!

  17. BlackButler says:

    Crest whitening tooth paste works great too 🙂

  18. MrsStilts says:

    If your headlights aren’t too far gone to refinish and this method doesn’t work quite as well as you’d like (though it does seem to help tremendously), try getting OFF! brand bug spray with deet. Use a sock or rag, spray the bug spray on it (cloth) and wipe away the dullness! 🙂

  19. Steve says:

    Great trying this tomorrow

  20. Jan says:

    I jusr purchased from Walmart I tried toothpaste. It helped alot. Love your blog found while searching. Toothpaste is great for a burn in the kitchen while trying to cook takes the pain away instantly. Thanks for the information.

  21. GPa Mike says:


    You are so smart, after trying wet sandpaper, vinegar, toothpaste, chrome polish,and even driveway cleaner, OFF bug spray worked quicker, easier and gave the best results. Did it on both cars!

  22. Arron B says:

    Gah!! Old post, I know, but PLEASE!!

    Bug spray melts a thin layer of the polycarbonate plastic, and completely removes the UV protectant the manufacturer placed on the lenses. You can get the same short term clarity effect with vegetable oil: It’s like putting water on a frosted window to see through it- until the water evaporates. Bug spray will also remove your car’s paint. Don’t use bug spray. Baking soda is a great abrasive, but will leave said great abrasions, accelerating the clouding (it’s oxidation: think rust) process as soon as you are finished.

    Other than lubricant (soapy water in a spray bottle) and a VERY fine sanding head, and then a VERY VERY fine sanding head for an electric drill, there is no shortcut that won’t ruin your lenses in short order.

    I’m not sure about replacing the UV protection, but I swear by Vinylex (sp?) for the black door insulation.

    I have no financial interest in any of the above, other than my 15 year old car.

    • Sarah says:

      Rustoleum clear gloss spray, the or that says it blocks UV rays and prevents yellowing, is perfect for sealing newly cleaned and restored headlights.

  23. Chi Sidener says:

    There is noticeably a bundle to learn about this. I assume you made sure nice factors in options also. Best Regards

  24. Car Trends says:

    Thanks for sharing this information with us. Yes, you don’t need to hire anyone for cleaning of your car pr bike headlights as it can be cleaned by only toothpaste.

  25. Waresul Ahsan says:

    How amazing tips you briefly say, Angela! by reading your three steps of 5 minutes cleaning – I was stuck whole content and like to thanks for your valuable information. It helps me to clean my headlights.

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