How to Clean Headlights With WD40

It’s not surprising that the memories of your brand new car with crystal-clear and spotless headlights come to mind. Although the business of life has kept you sharp in other aspects, your car headlights took a back seat and, in turn, developed a tint of yellow haze.

Now that their unsightly nature has caught your attention, you’re wondering what you can do without shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars. After all, replacing them with new ones would be a significant financial setback. However, your goal is to get them looking good as new. Here’s where WD40 comes into play.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know on how to clean headlights with WD40.

What Causes Headlights to Deteriorate?

Although you may not realize it, a car headlight is usually built from polycarbonate, which is more durable and lighter than magnesium or aluminum. On the flipside, polycarbonate degrades after a while due to constant exposure to the elements. Sunlight exposure can burn the outer surface of your car headlight. The erosion that happens following its use can result in damage.

The repercussions are diminished transparency that leads to a significant efficiency decline. When the headlight lens is transformed into a transparent screen, it typically takes on a yellowish tint.

What Are the Signs of Deteriorated Headlights?

You can detect the deterioration of your car headlights in three ways. For starters, when the operator on duty informs you that there’s an issue with your headlights at the annual safety test, you’ll have to come out of pocket because defective lighting is an offense.

Secondly, the lighting is the marker that your headlight bulb is not working as it should. It’s relatively ambiguous. That’s because if you use your car in low lighting, for instance, at night, you may not notice a considerable difference. However, if you do, you’ll notice that your headlight bulb no longer illuminates as it should because the lights that pass through the plastic headlight cover are inadequate.

Thirdly, the fastest and easiest way to detect the signs is to assess the headlights, after which it’ll be obvious that they no longer look good as new. You’ll notice they have lost their transparency which is apparent with the yellowish tint. Upon touching the headlights, you may notice a rough surface that can leave your fingers stained with tiny fragments of material.

How to Clean Headlights With WD40

The process entails combining the abrasive effects of baking soda with three-in-one oils or WD40. The mixture is best suited if your headlights have stubborn stains such as encrusted rust.

If you opt for this mixture, tread carefully as the last thing you want is to have oil stains on the plastic parts or moldings of your car. To avoid this predicament, masking tape will prove beneficial. To get the ball rolling:

  1. Put a frame around the headlight with masking tape.
  2. Mix the baking soda with WD40 to make a thick paste that closely mimics toothpaste.
  3. Spread the paste evenly across the headlights’ surface in circular motions. Although the longer the paste sits, the better, up to 10 minutes should suffice.
  4. Clean the headlights with soap and water to ensure you get rid of the oil.
  5. Use a glass cleaner to clean the headlight.

Tips to Keep Headlights Looking Good as New

  • Clean your headlights frequently.
  • Steer clear of car wash tunnels as they typically have rollers that can leave abrasions on your headlights.
  • Don’t use industrial or harsh cleaning products.
  • The ideal type of maintenance you can do to your headlights is to avoid sun exposure by parking in the shade. UV rays deteriorate the plastic.
  • Avoid abusing the polishing of headlights. It’s worth keeping in mind that you’re getting rid of the thickness on your headlights which means overdoing the process can significantly weaken the material.

Other Ways to Clean Headlights

Now that you know how to clean headlights with WD40, there are other techniques you can try out to get the job done effectively.

1. Using Vinegar

Given that vinegar has been the go-to cleaning product throughout history, it’s not surprising that it can get your headlights spick and span. To get started:

  • Mix vinegar and water in the container of a window cleaner.
  • Spray the headlights and let the solution sit for a minute.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the vinegar solution off the headlights.
  • Although most grime will come off effortlessly, you can use more elbow grease to scrub off the stubborn dirt.

2. Using a Polishing Compound, Soap and Sandpaper

To get started, follow the steps below.

  • Use regular car soap to eliminate grime buildup, particularly in the corners.
  • Use masking tape to mask off the edges and avoid accidentally leaving abrasions from sandpaper.
  • Wet the abrasive sandpaper and headlights, then consistently scrub in horizontal motions for up to 10 minutes. As you do so, ensure the sandpaper is wet to avoid damaging your headlights with scratches.
  • Once your headlights are clean, wipe them with a soft and clean cloth.
  • Use a polishing compound to wax and polish your headlights for up to 10 minutes, and you’re good to go.

To Wrap Up Headlight Restoration

Although you can use WD40 to clean your headlights and for headlight restoration, the other techniques discussed in this guide will still get the job done to perfection. You also have free rein to invest in a restoration kit to get your headlights looking good as new.

It’s an economical and straightforward way to get your headlights looking good as new. By implementing these steps, you’ll cut down on the cost of roping in a professional in the car detailing process.


Still have questions about the best ways to clean your car’s headlights? Read on for answers to some of the more commonly asked questions.

How do you clean foggy headlights?

If you find that your headlights are only slightly foggy, you can restore them using an abrasive cleaner like toothpaste and a good amount of scrubbing. Clean the headlights with a soapy solution and then use a soft cloth to rub in a small amount of toothpaste, making sure the headlight is wet. A toothpaste containing baking soda is best when you want to clean foggy headlights.

Can you use a Magic Eraser on your car’s headlights?

Yes. You can safely use a Magic Eraser on your car’s headlights; however, you want to avoid using a Magic Eraser on the vehicle’s paint as it can cause damage. The Magic Eraser will not only clean your car headlight but may also remove the yellow covering that develops over time.

Can you use WD40 on clear plastic headlights?

Yes. WD40 can be used on various car headlights to clean them and remove fogginess. When using WD40, make sure to follow our suggestions above.

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