I’m stepping away from my design updates to share a brief experience. If you watch television regularly enough, you probably have seen the infomercial advertising a specialized cleaner for oxidized, dirty headlight covers on a vehicle. I have no idea if the advertised cleaner works, but I can tell you a certain “home remedy” works just fine.
The recent infomercial no doubt piqued my interest because the headlights on my 1998 Toyota Camry have needed a cleaning for some time.
A recent Google search for “how to clean your headlights”–or something similar–revealed a common ingredient among the results: toothpaste. It seemed too good to be true, so I decided to put this home remedy to the test. Let me say, I am quite impressed with the results and want to share my experience and some photos with you.
These photos were shot with an old cell phone camera, so the quality and color are a bit compromised. I hope you’re able to see the difference in before and after. The photos are untouched, raw images.
Here’s my process (culled from various sources in my search):
- Prep the surface:I used a touch of auto soap and a bucket of water to wash off as much grime as possible. It’s important to note: Soap and water won’t remove oxidation, so don’t confuse the results I experienced with the thought that perhaps the soap and water cleaned the headlights. After washing, dry the surface.
- Squeeze on the paste: As you can see from the photo, I happened to have Crest Tartar Protection–I’m not sure if other types of toothpaste would have produced different results. I squeezed a bit of toothpaste onto a dry paper towel.
- Lather: Next, I wiped the headlight with the toothpaste, adding more as needed to cover the area. The temperature was pretty hot, too, (lower 90s) so the toothpaste wasn’t spreading as easily.
- Rinse:Once the headlights were covered with the toothpaste, I cleaned them with a sponge and warm water.
- Repeat: The results are from cleaning the headlight twice, and regardless of how well it may show up in the photo, the difference is quite remarkable.
So, there you have it. You can clean your oxidized headlights with toothpaste–and it leaves your car feeling minty fresh. Give it a try and share your experience!
Only had Colgate Total, which was gel and didn’t work. BUT did also read and tried silver polish and it was amazing and easy! Wipe on and work a bit then buff off. Found out I have a cracked lens that I couldn’t even see before!
Hi Lori. I’ve heard about using silver polish as well. That’s good to know about the gel. Next time your headlights get dirty, you should try the toothpaste method as I did. I’ll try our silver polish sometime soon. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Thanks a lot! it really does work! 🙂 I decided to try it when I went to get my oil changed when the mechanic asked me if I wanted to get my headlights cleaned and he told me it was $20 a piece that’s when I told myself that it has to be a cheaper way of cleaning my headlights and you showed me that thank you so much
So r u saying that this really works my Lenz are very dirty
It really really really does work from my experience with toothpaste… NOT the Gel.
Did you use the silver polish remover or the toothpaste?
The toothpaste method works GREAT!!! I HAD some colgate toothpaste with baking soda and peroxide. I was desperately looking for an home remedy that worked so I googled home remedies for headlight restoration wen I found this link that really works,, like for real it really does!!!. Thanks Josh!
I was told that colgate PASTE, cleans the headlights. I didnt believe it until I tried it. It does work.
You have to let it dry completely then just rinse off with water hose(and in the heat we have been having that doesnt take long). 🙂
But you said that silver polish worked for you that’s great. Besure to use a car wax on the headlight after cleaning, that helps keep it clean longer.
Thanks Cathy, I also use the car polish for longer lasting car lenses after cleaning them. And I’m glad to discover it really works!!! Thanks a million!!!
Lori, what brand of Silver polish did you use? I’m very curious since the toothpaste did not work for me. Thanks.
Use a paste versus a great toothpaste an your sure to get the GREAT results that I did, for sure. But I’m curious as to how the silver polish works as well. But you can’t beat the difference with the toothpaste.
Hey it is the grit in the toothPASTE in addition to the cleaner that does it and it will also polish metal try using Crest or Colgate white pastes not with whitening agents. This should also be done to the inside of a diving/snorkeling mask (first thing you learn in Dive training why your mask will always be fogged up till you remove the factory film using toothpaste lol. All those years of hacking luggies
I tried your suggestion and it worked. I scrubbed a small amount of toothpaste in circular motion then wiped dry. Thank you.
Hey Lori thanks for the tip that was the easiest way to clean the head lights . Think it took 10 minutes to clean them . Again many thanks jai
So glad I found this site / subject for my 2006 Toyota Corolla. Took my car in yesterday for regular service on changing transmission fluid, $$$ already, and the guy did his BEST to talk me into the $90 way to clean them. Yeah, right – I had already been surfing for a cheaper way to clean them and read several ways, but this toothpaste deal is worth my trying it – THANK YOU for pointing out the type with tartar control.
Hi JoAnn. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing. Very glad to hear the toothpaste method worked for you as well. And I’m certainly glad you saved yourself $90. What an outrageous price. Next time, I may test Lori’s method of using silver polish. Cheers!
Hi Jack !
I am just waiting for the morning.I am exited to work on this,
Hello Joann, you can use toothpaste with baking soda and peroxide too. For best results use a toothpaste versus a toothpaste gel. I find that the toothpaste gel doesn’t work at all.
I just took my ’04 Corolla in to the body shop. I paid $60 to get mine done. Didn’t mind it a bit because they took quite a bit of time doing it. Really didn’t want to do it myself and the plastic looks like brand new. The plastic was really oxidized badly. I will pass on the toothpaste tho to anyone interested.
(Please don’t give my email to anyone.)
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU ( IT WORKS)
Hi Anne. Glad to hear it worked. Thanks for stopping by to comment.
It’s funny because I have the same car and year and even same paint job. I did this earlier today to my car and then I found your posting. It works really well. I just have one question does using toothpaste on your headlights (which I already did) have any long term effects on your headlights?
Abel, that’s a good question. I’m not sure if there are any long-term effects on the headlight covers or not. I’ll look around and see if I can find out anything. If you find some good info about this, I hope you’ll leave a comment and let us know. Thanks for stopping by.
Have 96 Corolla and tried toothpaste trick I saw on YouTube. Many success stories and happy to report it worked for me too. Could see that yellow come off on the paper towel. I heard not to get done in shop since sanding the lens reduces the ability to repair them again. I used regular furniture polish sprayed on a soft cloth to protect the lens after cleaned with toothpaste. Now I can’t wait to test drive at night to see how much brighter my lights are. Maybe I don’t need new glasses afterall. 🙂
The long term effects of toothpaste on headlights is that your headlights will NEVER have cavities.
Fewer cavities…. :
Hi all,I’ve cleaned several cars in my area with toothpate,with good results,but whatever oxidation doesn’t come off,then you have to sand them down with some 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper,because the toothpaste itself,doesn’t take it all off on some vehicles.Don’t use the gel,just regular white stuff.Wash it off with water and put wax on it to protect it.You may have to repeat every few months,when you see it clouding up again.
Good advice, Kevin. Thanks for the comment and insights.
when i read your title i laughed a lot but when i asked my employee to do that the results were amazing. it really works so thank you 🙂 Cleaner Jobs
My pleasure, Emily. Glad to hear it worked for you. I just sold that Camry in the photos above, so when the new car begins to have oxidation, I’ll be anxious to try out the toothpaste again or the silver polish idea. Thanks for commenting.
Well, I tried this technique with Colgate Tartar Protection toothpaste and it did not work for me. I hoped I could save some money by doing this, but not this time, I guess. Thanks for the tip anyway.
I also tried this method after coming across the recommendation on Pinterest. For about 60 seconds it appeared that it had solved the problem but then the water I had used to rinse the toothpaste off dried and it was completely back to it’s original cloudy state.
Just this past weekend I asked my son what I could use to clean my headlight covers. He said he buffed his with his electric buffer. I decided to google cleaning solutions and saw this website. I am going to try your method this weekend. Can’t wait to see what happens!
The toothpaste does work. It does clean the headlights. You just have to have the sense to know how to do it. The people that states that it doesn’t work are the people who don’t have any common sense and know how, to do anything. They are lazy and ignorant.
This toothpaste method really does work!…..for about 2 minutes. The headlights on my 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche have been oxidized for about 4 years but i havent had the money to buy new lenses or get a cleaning kit. After my wife bugged me for a while, because she coudnt see at night because of the headlights, i looked online for ways to clean headlights and found this method. I used Crest cavity control toothpaste and some left over Maguires car soap to clean one headlight and it worked for 2 minutes so i went inside to get a drink and when i came out the headlight was, again oxidized! So i pulled into my garage and redid the headlight and then did the other one, i went inside and came back in less than 3 minutes and found that the headlights were oxidized again….THIS WAS A COMPLETE FAILURE AND A WASTE OF TIME!!!!!!!!!!!
Hey I tried this on my 08 Lancer and I was impressed with the results. I used some old Aquafresh I had laying around and some Windex. It took two good coats and about 30 secs of wait time. Let the toothpaste set up really well and then spray it down with the windex and wipe off. Repeat for best results. Didnt make it vanish completely but I could tell a significant difference. Great tip!!
So, I tried this on my 2003 Jetta and I wasn’t impressed with the results. I made a YouTube video documenting what I did. Perhaps somewhere in there I made a mistake in the process. I’d love some feedback on how I could do it better. Maybe my problem was too severe for toothpaste…?
don’t usually blog but this toothpaste deal works. Used a sample I got from the dentist, rubbed it on ,washed it off.
hi,I dont own a can but i think my eyes r turning dull.thenks 4 the advice
Worked like a charm, Used some Crest Pro paste and after one time was pleased. THANX
Sometimes toothpaste can work, but it depends how bad the lenses are to begin with. I have been doing headlight refinishing professionally for about 9 years and have heard about all of the crazy methods used. I do work for BMW, Mercedes and a few used car lots and mechanic shops. A lot of these methods can work but it’s only a temporary fix. The haze WILL come back because the problem isn’t being corrected.
Headlight refinishing does work with lasting results if you know how to do it and have the correct materials and chemicals.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if I can help you out.
Hi James. Thanks for stopping by. Indeed, there are professional methods that work better and are longer lasting. The toothpaste cleaning method is nothing more than a short-tern, stop-gap measure if you will. It gets the job done—reasonably well, all things considered—at a fraction of the cost.
How long do I leave the toothpaste on for?
Hi PG. I left it on only until it dried. Granted, I did this on a very hot day, so it was maybe 30-45 seconds.
Just tried this worked great !
I recently imported my ex jap a2000 toyota vista. It also had the oxidised head lamps covers and I used the same material of toithpaste. It works dearly.
Wouldn.t SOFT SCRUB cleanser work just as well?
Hmmmm, that’s an intriguing idea, Marci. I’ll keep that in mind.
I did the toothpaste treatment lst. After I read your suggestion, I tried Soft Scrub & & works much better. Thank You for Your Input!
just tried this once on a 2005 toyota rav 4 and saw a difference in just the first pass with just the toothpaste and generic all purpose cleaner
J.Jackson, do you have any advice on how to remove the dullness on vehicle passenger roll up/down windows? My drivers side window is very dull from the down/up use. Thx for your help.
It don’t work with the toothpaste garbage don’t WASTE YOUR TIME….
When your headlights are foggy, cloudy or yellowed means that Oxidation is building up in your plastic lens. Replacing headlight lenses can cost several hundred dollars. Having a detail shop or Auto repair shop professionally restore your headlights can run $75 to $150 per car. No headlights covers remain clear forever. All plastic headlights become cloudy, foggy or yellowed over time. Enjoy Crystal Clear Headlight Covers In Minutes WITHOUT Sanding, Buffing or using Masking Tape with LTC Headlight Cleaner. Headlights treated with LTC Headlight Cleaner will maintain clear for 8-12 months or more, it varies where your car is parked; garaged, streets, *remember that sun is one of the biggest factors why your headlights get oxidized.
Sanding and polishing eventually will scratch and reduce thickness of your plastic headlights. Toothpaste will semi-clean your headlights and leave it without any kind of UV protection. Why pay for something you can do at home for less. Like everything else, there are good and bad 1 step headlight cleaner products and this is considered the Best Headlight Cleaner.
You’re 6 steps away to remove Headlight Oxidation from your headlights with LTC.
1. Wipe off dust from headlight
2. Shake bottle for up to 30 seconds first time, consecutive applications up to 10 seconds.
3. Apply 1/20 oz in a cotton cloth rag.
4. Start rubbing cloth rag with some pressure, chose your desire rubbing pattern and don’t stop rubbing until you see the difference and you’re satisfied with the results.
5. With a clean cotton cloth rag start wiping off until is dry to the touch.
6. Clean edges around headlight removing excess fluid in non plastic surfaces.
Source link: http://trk1.ltcleaner.com/headlightcleaner
YES…toothpaste does work, but it lasts for about 3 months and you have to do it again. Especially is you let it go for years like I did. Thank You for the post. 2002 Mercedes E320
Any Tooth paste will work or some specific tooth paste?
Wooooooooow………….Worked like mamamamamamagic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanx a mille!!!!!
Glad it did the job for you Pius. Thanks for posting.
YES IT DOES WORK. After spending alot of $$ on various failed cleansers and products, I asked my neighbor who is a professional car detailer if he had any special product specifically for headlamps. He stated that hew used to carry one but that it was too pricey to keep on hand and had to charge clients more just to cover his cost. I told him I’d pay his wholesale cost because I was just sick of looking at cloudy lamps. Thankfully he never yet had the opportunity because the toothpaste did the job! !! Thank you and I’ll pass on the info to my neighbor
Glad to hear it worked for you Anita. Thanks for sharing.
For the folks that did not have any luck with the toothpaste, I have owned my car for 10 years and have never cleaned the film on my headlights, so with that amount of oxidation I found that I first had to clean them well, sand them quite a bit with a 1500 grit paper, clean them again, and then apply the toothpaste and I had to apply and remove (I rinsed the toothpaste off with Vinegar and rubbing alcohol, I am not sure if that had any positive effects) the toothpaste about two times…. after I did this it seems to have worked. Here is a website that gives you step by step instructions on this method, in case you are not the average do it yourselfer this may come in handy. I spent about 8 bucks on this method.
Great advice, LM. Thanks for posting.
After reading all the success with toothpaste and silver cleaners I got out my small can of Brasso and got to work —
With just a little rubbing motion it was once again showroom
headlights. Good luck with whatever you use toothpaste or Brasso.
I just got done using crest clinical pro health and it worked. I only did mine once each and it worked. I own a mercury. Thank you so much now i can see driving at night 🙂
Great tip! My husband tried it with Colgate. It works just fine. Thank you for sharing this useful tip! Best regards!
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Hello. Just tried the toothpaste fixit on a cheapie backup camera lens and it worked good. If someone has already posted this similar fix, then I apologize, as I haven’t read all of the replies… just enough thumbs up comments to say, “sounds like a cheap, easy fix. Nothing to lose”. And again, success! Thanks to all!
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I would have never guessed that toothpaste would help with cleaning headlights. I liked the pictures comparing the difference between the dirty and clean headlights. I honestly haven’t checked my lights to see how dirty they are, but I know what I have to do now if they are. Thanks!
This cleaning idea is brilliant! I would never have thought to use toothpaste as a cleaner for your headlights. The toothpaste has cleaning chemicals in it that can take the grime off of the headlights makes them brighter. Having a higher brightness than just letting water and dirt build up on the glass/plastic covering the headlights can make driving in the dark easier and safer.
I used Colgate whitening, and really it doesn’t need much at all-it worked so well!!!! I’m really excited about it thanks! 🙂
I tried a magic eraser and it seemed to work very well
Thank you, thank you….toothpaste save me some bucks! It really does work!!
Has anyone ever considered that the fogging may be on the inside of the lamp where one can’t clean?
I tried the toothpaste (Crest). I rubbed it on with a paper towel and let it sit for 30 minutes. It is winter… slow drying. I wiped it off using 409 and a paper towel. I then sealed it with car wax. When I got done wiping off the car wax it was a clear and pleasant improvement. Definitely not show room quality… but maybe high-end used car lot. Thanks for the tip.
Had Crest with baking soda WHITENING, did as directed and the results weees amazing. Looks brand new… It’s a home remedy SundY here in Maine
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