How to Restore Headlights
Clean headlights are imperative for road safety, so you can properly see what’s ahead. Sometimes headlights may seem like they need to be replaced, but really their casing just needs a great cleaning to bring back their vibrancy. Save money and protect your headlights by cleaning them yourself. We have some tips to get you started.
What You Will Need
- A rag or microfiber cloth
- Shop towels
- 800-, 1,000-, and 2,000-grade grit sandpaper
- Rubbing compound
- Masking tape intended for cars
- A drill
- Rubbing alcohol
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Measuring cup not used for food
- Car soap
- Glass cleaner
- Urethane and mineral spirits
- Empty spray bottle
- Take off the first layer of gunk by cleaning the headlights with traditional car soap and water. After you dry the headlight, spray it with glass cleaner and wipe.
- Since you will sand the headlights, you want to tape around them with a masking tape. Create a good layer to protect your car’s paint.
- Cut the sanding paper into four pieces each.
- Start with the 800-grit paper and wet it. Stick the paper to the headlight, spray it with water, and then make sure it is sticking to the headlight.
- Sand the light in one direction, making sure to keep the paper wet so it lasts longer. Wipe the lights with shop towels as much as you need to. Once you see 800-grit marks, stop. Repeat this step for each paper—move on to 1,000-grit paper and then 2,000-grit paper.
- Squeeze the compound paste onto the freshly sanded headlight. Bring out your drill and compound pad, and then buff the headlight in one direction. This is where you will see the headlight brighten (of course, consider marks from the paste). Do this is much as you see fit—your results will vary based on how much you buff.
- Wipe away the paste with rubbing alcohol to reveal a sparkling headlight.
- Wash your car as usual and dry the headlights.
- Mix .5 ounce of urethane to .5 ounce of mineral spirits—an equal parts ratio—in the measuring cup, and then put it in an empty spray bottle. Spray over the headlights to make an even protective coat. If the coat is bumpy and thick, wipe it clean with mineral spirits mixed with water, and spray once more.
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