How To Clear Up Foggy Headlights

If you have an older car, you may have noticed that your car's headlights aren't as clear as they used to be. Your car's headlights are made of plastic and can fog up from oxidation. No matter how much you clean your car or run it through the car wash, they won't come clean. To get them clear again and looking like new, it will take some hard work and the right tools to get the job done. See below for instructions to clear up your foggy headlights.

Tools And Materials For The Job:

  • Sandpaper (fine and course grit)
  • Painter's tape
  • Car wash soap
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Wax


  1. Start by applying painter's tape to the area surrounding your headlight. Since you'll be sanding, you don't want to scratch up your car's chrome or paint.
  2. Clean your headlight using soapy water to remove any dirt or debris, then rinse them clean. 
  3. Take your course grit sandpaper and sand your headlight in straight vertical lines starting at the top and working your way to the bottom. Then sand your headlight in straight horizontal lines.
  4. Next, take the finer grit sandpaper and sand in the same manner you did with the course grit sandpaper. You can add polish to the sandpaper to help you sand the headlight.
  5. When finished, rinse your headlight to remove any sanding dust and polish then dry your headlight. If they still look cloudy, you can use the fine grit sandpaper again to clear up any leftover oxidation.
  6. Finally, wax your headlight to polish, bring back the shine and to help protect the plastic. Wax in a circular motion, then allow the wax to dry. Remove the wax using a clean microfiber cloth. Sanding your headlights takes away the protective clear coating, so chances are the fogginess may come back at some point. Be sure to wax your headlights often to help protect them.
  7. Remove the painter's tape from the area surrounding your headlight.

Your headlights will fog over time from oxidation, especially with older vehicles. You can replace your headlights completely, which may come at a big cost, or try to repair them using sandpaper. If the idea of using sandpaper to clear up your headlights makes you nervous, you can take your car to an auto detailing shop to have your headlights repaired for you by a professional. Headlights help you to see at night (and others to see you), so be sure to repair them to keep you and your family safe, as well as others on the road. Visit a parts store, like Parts Max, for more help.