How to Clear Yellow Headlights? Some Easy Tips

The yellowing headlight is a problem that many car owners encounter. It is the situation where the headlights assume a yellowish hue and become blurry. Most car owners do not pay too much heed to the problem until it goes overboard and affects the lighting range and intensity. You need to know how to clear yellow headlights to have the best visuals when on the road.

The good thing is that there are simple solutions in dealing with yellowed headlights. In this piece, we will look at what causes the yellowing. Additionally, we look at the various ways to handle the headlight problem.

how to fix yellow headlights with toothpaste

What Causes Headlights to Turn Yellow?

To get to the root of the problem, you need to understand why headlights turn yellow. The number one cause of yellowing is oxidation. Most recent car models have their headlight assemblies made from plastic.

The polycarbonate lens’s exposure to air and the effect of UV rays contribute to the discoloration. Furthermore, the UV rays may cause small cracks to develop on the lens’s surface. When dirt and other impurities settle in the cracks, the cover gets a brownish look.

A thing to know is that when new, the outer plastic has a covering that prevents oxidation. However, with time the coating wears off, leaving the area prone to UV ray action.

The other cause of the yellowness of the headlights is exposure to dirt. As earlier explained, one way dirt affects this car part is by settling in cracks on the polycarbonate lens’s surface. It may also settle on the inside, which requires you to clean inside headlights.

Exposure to gases is another cause of the blurred light assembly. Exhaust fumes cause blurriness as they settle on the lens. The density of these gases is a contributing factor.

Do glass headlights turn yellow? Glass headlights rarely turn yellow. If they do, the issue is probably dirt or exposure to fumes. Glass is less susceptible to oxidation, mainly affecting the polycarbonate assemblies.

How To Clear Yellow Headlights Best Process

If you notice your car lights dimming, you have to check them to get to the root of the problem. When you realize you have a yellow lens case, you should bring out your mechanics toolbox to deal with it. It is advisable to sort out the issue immediately before it further dims the light.

When dealing with a yellowing problem, below are some of the items to have.

  • Microfiber towels and a cleaning rug.
  • Soap and water.
  • A spray bottle.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Toothpaste.

If you have the listed items, you can follow the highlighted steps to deal with oxidized headlights.

How to Clean Yellow Headlights

Step 1: Clean the Surface of the Headlights

After inspecting the damage, do a quick cleanup of the lights. Use soapy water and a rag to clean the outer surface and dry it. Once done, you will see the extent of the yellowing and if there are pits or cracks on the assembly’s surface.

Step 2: Dealing With Oxidation

To deal with the yellow lens, there are several ways to go. You can go the DIY route, which is cheaper and can produce excellent results. In this case, you use household items like toothpaste, vinegar, and baking soda.

DIY Ways of Cleaning Yellow Headlights

On how to clean yellow headlights with toothpaste, take a generous serving from the tube and apply it to the surface. Apply it on both lenses and let it rest for a few minutes before rinsing them. You will notice some differences.

If you decide to clean yellow headlights with baking powder, make a thick paste using water, which will be enough for both car lights. Apply the paste on the surface before rinsing after a few minutes.

A vinegar bath can also do the trick. Mix vinegar and water in the ratio of 2:1 in a basin. Remove the headlight assembly and soak them in the bath for up to an hour. Later on, rinse them with clean water. You will realize there is no more staining on the lights’ plastic covering.

Professional Ways of Cleaning Yellow Headlights

You may go the professional way of cleaning oxidized headlights, where you have a guarantee of the desired results in a short time. The first solution is by using sandpaper. You can tape the areas surrounding the headlight to prevent scratches and chipping the paint.

A better solution is to remove the entire headlight assembly. Start with coarser sandpaper as you go up to fine. It ensures the evenness of the cleaning process, doing an impressive job in removing cracks.

800-grit sandpaper is good to start you off and will do a quick job of getting rid of cracks. Use a right to left motion with this sandpaper. Follow up with wet 1000-grit sandpaper for smoothening the surface in an up and down movement.

Finalize with wet 2500-grit sandpaper, using a right to left manner. You can complete the entire process with a polisher. This process makes the headlight brighter.

Step 3: Waxing

The final process is waxing, which improves the headlights look and gives it a protective covering against UV rays. Set the wax generously on the surface and allow it to settle. You will notice that the headlights appear better than their previous form.

What if the problem is on the inside? At times, the problem is on the inside, especially where there is dirt accumulation. On how to clean yellow headlights inside, you have to disassemble the headlight and remove the dirt. You can use a vinegar bath, which will easily get inside the headlight assembly.

From the vinegar bath, rinse it and let it dry before reassembling it. Will coke clean headlights? Yes, coke is another household solution to use as a DIY method to clear oxidation on headlights.

After restoring the lights, you should focus on protective methods to prevent the recurrence of the issue. Park your car under a shade, where the lights won’t have exposure to UV rays.

A wax covering will also help against dirt and exhaust fumes. Additionally, you have to regularly clean the car part to prevent dirt accumulation.

best way to clean yellow headlights with sandpaper

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can Yellow Headlights Be Restored?

Yellow headlights are an issue many drivers have to deal with. It reduces the light intensity and can also cause problems when you want to aim the headlight. The good news is that you can restore the lights. It involves thorough cleanup of the lenses, where you can use household products like toothpaste, vinegar, or baking soda. You can go professional and use sandpaper or polish.

Q: Can You Use WD 40 To Clean Your Headlights?

WD-40 is a multipurpose solution, and among the areas, you can use it is in cleaning yellowed headlights. When using WD-40, spray it evenly on the surface of the lens. Allow for it to settle; a couple of minutes will do before washing it off with a scrub or cleaning cloth.

Q: Will Coke Clean Headlights?

Coke is another household item that will deal with oxidation on headlights. You can create a coke bath and disassemble the covering and let it soak. This will help with removing oxidation and dirt inside the frontal light chamber.

The other way is by putting the soda in a spray bottle and spray it on the lens’s surface, then rinse it.

Q: Can You Drive With Yellow Headlights?

You can drive with yellow headlights, but you will be putting yourself and other road users at risk. The lights will be pretty dim and blurry. If the oxidation is too much, you may have poor vision. It is advisable to deal with the issue as soon as you notice it.

Q: How do you remove oxidation from headlights?

Oxidation is one of the causes of headlight yellowing. It is due to exposure to air and the action of UV rays. You can use baking powder paste, a vinegar bath, or toothpaste application to deal with oxidation. Optionally, sandpaper will also do a great job of removing this stain.

Final Word

Is your car light dimming and brightening or appearing blurry? If the lens seems yellow, oxidation is the main problem on your hands. It can affect your visualization and come in the way of your driving experience. In this article, we look at the probable causes of the hitch and how to solve them.

Always ensure you have clean headlights and cover them with a layer of wax to prevent yellow lights.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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