How To Clean The Inside Of Headlights

How To Clean The Inside Of Headlights

Are your car headlights looking cloudy and dim? Do you find yourself struggling to see clearly while driving at night? The problem may not be with the bulbs, but rather with the accumulation of dirt and grime on the inside of your headlights. In this article, we will guide you through the process of how to clean the inside of headlights, ensuring that they are shining bright and providing you with clear visibility on the road.

Headlights play a crucial role in ensuring your safety on the road, as they provide visibility during low-light conditions. Over time, however, dirt, dust, and moisture can build up on the inside of your headlights, reducing their effectiveness and impairing your vision.

Properly maintaining your car headlight lenses is essential for optimal performance and safety. While many people focus on cleaning the outside of their headlights, neglecting the inside can lead to reduced brightness and clarity. Thankfully, cleaning the inside of your headlights is a straightforward process that can be done at home with a few simple steps. 

How To Clean The Inside Of Headlights

Understanding Headlight Construction

To effectively clean the inside of headlights, it’s essential to understand their construction. Most headlights consist of a bulb, reflector, lens, and housing. The bulb emits the light, which is then reflected by the reflector and directed through the lens to illuminate the road.

There are various types of headlights, including halogen, xenon (HID), and LED. Each type differs in terms of technology, light output, and maintenance requirements. It’s crucial to identify the specific type of headlight your vehicle has to ensure the appropriate cleaning method is used.

Headlights can be categorized as either sealed or non-sealed. Sealed headlights have a one-piece design, with the lens and housing permanently sealed together. Non-sealed headlights, on the other hand, have removable covers or bulbs, allowing access to the inside of the housing. Understanding whether your headlights are sealed or non-sealed will determine the cleaning approach you should take.

Gathering The Necessary Cleaning Tool And Materials

Essential Tools For Cleaning Car Headlights

Before embarking on the cleaning process, gather the necessary tools. Some essential items include a microfiber cloth, soft-bristle brush, vacuum cleaner, plastic pry tools (for removing covers or bulbs), and a screwdriver (if applicable). 

For those looking to take their car headlight cleaning a step further, consider investing in a headlight lens restorer to bring the lenses back to their original clarity. With these tools at the ready, cleaning car headlights is a task that anyone can handle.

Different cleaning solutions can be used to clean headlights. Mild dish soap mixed with water is a popular choice, as it effectively removes dirt and grime. Alternatively, there are specialized headlight cleaning solutions available on the market. These solutions often come in kits, which may include additional items like sandpaper, a polishing compound, aerosol electrical contact cleaner, and a UV protective sealant.

Protective Equipment For The Cleaning Process

To protect yourself during the cleaning process, consider using gloves, safety goggles, and a face mask. Some cleaning solutions can be mildly abrasive, and the protective equipment will prevent any potential skin or eye irritation.

Preparing For The Cleaning Process

  • First, you’ll need to access the inside of the headlight housing. This will vary depending on the make and model of your car. In most cases, you’ll need to remove the screws or clips that hold the headlight housing in place. Use the appropriate tool to safely remove the housing and set it aside.
  • First, you’ll need to access the inside of the headlight housing. This will vary depending on the make and model of your car. In most cases, you’ll need to remove the screws or clips from the wiring connector that holds the headlight housing in place. Use the appropriate tool to safely remove the housing and set it aside.
  • Now that the inside of the housing is clean, it’s time to move on to the headlight lens itself. Spray a generous amount of the designated headlight cleaning solution onto a clean microfiber cloth. Gently rub the cloth in circular motions across the lens, focusing on any areas that appear cloudy or hazy. Repeat this process until the lens is clean and transparent.
  • For non-sealed headlights, you may need to remove the covers or bulbs to gain access to the inside of the housing. Refer to your vehicle’s manual for specific instructions on how to remove these components safely.
  • Lastly, it’s important to test your headlights to ensure they are functioning properly. Turn on your car’s headlights and inspect them from a distance. If you notice any remaining haziness or reduced brightness, you may need to repeat the cleaning process or consider professional assistance.
How To Clean The Inside Of Headlights

Cleaning The Inside Of Car Headlights

Begin the cleaning process by dusting off any loose dirt or debris from the headlight housing. Use a soft-bristle brush or a vacuum cleaner to ensure the inside is free from any loose particles.

Non-Sealed Headlights

  • Fill a bucket with warm water and add a small amount of mild dish soap. Dip a clean microfiber cloth into the soapy water and gently wipe the inside of the headlight housing, removing any stubborn dirt or grime. Rinse the cloth regularly to avoid spreading dirt.
  • If condensation has built up inside the headlight housing, use a hairdryer or leave the headlights on for a few hours to evaporate the moisture. Ensure the headlights are completely dry before proceeding.
  • Once the cleaning process is complete, use a clean microfiber cloth to dry the inside of the headlight housing thoroughly. Make sure no moisture remains, as this can lead to future condensation issues.

Sealed Headlights

  • A sealed headlight requires a different approach due to its design. Headlight restoration kits often include sandpaper, a polishing compound, and a UV protective sealant. Follow the instructions provided with the kit to remove any hazing or oxidation from the inside of the lens.
  • Use the sandpaper provided in the restoration kit to gently sand the inside of the lens, removing any imperfections. Then, apply the polishing compound to further restore clarity. Use a soft cloth or a polishing pad to buff the lens until it becomes clear and free from scratches.
  • After restoring the lens, apply a UV protective sealant to prevent future damage from UV rays. The sealant acts as a barrier, preserving the clarity and extending the lifespan of the headlights.

Cleaning Foggy Headlights

Foggy headlights occur when the plastic lenses of the headlights become oxidized or clouded over time, reducing their brightness and effectiveness. To clean foggy headlights, one can start by thoroughly washing the headlights with soap and water to remove any dirt or debris.

Then, the headlights can be treated with a headlight restoration kit, which usually includes a polish or compound to remove the oxidation. This can be applied using a clean cloth and buffed in circular motions until the cloudiness starts to fade away.

Finally, a protective clear coat can be applied to the headlights to prevent further oxidation and maintain their clarity. It is important to follow the instructions provided with the restoration kit and take necessary safety precautions such as wearing gloves and eye protection.

Cleaning Headlight Bulbs And Reflectors

While cleaning the inside of the headlights, take the opportunity to clean the bulbs and reflectors as well. Gently wipe the bulbs with a microfiber cloth dampened with a mild cleaning solution, ensuring they are free from dirt and grime. Use a soft brush or a cloth to clean the reflectors, removing any dust or debris that may have accumulated.

Reassembling And Finishing Touches

  • After the cleaning headlights process is complete, carefully reinstall the headlight covers or bulbs, following the specific instructions for your vehicle.
  • Turn on the headlights to ensure they are functioning correctly and aligned properly. Verify that the light output is clear, without any obstructions or distortions.
  • For an extra layer of protection, consider applying a UV protective film or clear coat to the outside of the headlight lens. This additional step helps shield the headlights from UV rays and prevents future hazing or discoloration.
How To Clean The Inside Of Headlights

Maintaining Clean Headlights

To maintain clean and clear headlights, follow these tips:

  • Regularly wash your vehicle, including the headlights, to remove dirt and grime.
  • Park your vehicle in shaded areas or use a car cover to reduce UV exposure.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials on the headlights.
  • Inspect the headlights periodically for signs of damage or condensation.
  • Make it a habit to inspect your headlights regularly for any signs of deterioration or hazing. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.
  • Additionally, include headlight cleaning as part of your routine vehicle maintenance.

If you encounter significant damage or are unsure about the cleaning process, it’s best to seek professional help. Auto detailing services or specialized technicians can provide expert assistance in restoring and maintaining your headlights.


Clear headlights are vital for safe driving, ensuring optimal visibility on the road. By keeping your headlights clean and clear, you enhance your safety and the safety of others on the road. Cleaning the inside of headlights involves a systematic approach, starting from gathering the necessary tools and materials to reassembling the headlights gently. By following the step-by-step guide, you can effectively restore the brightness and clarity of your headlights.

Don’t overlook the importance of clean and clear headlights. Take action today to clean and maintain your headlights, ensuring a clear path ahead and promoting road safety for yourself and others. Alongside our instructive guidelines, we would like to inform you that we have an exciting opportunity for our readers to earn cash through our members’ affiliate and ambassador program. By joining this program, you can refer your friends and earn a commission. It doesn’t have to be much, but every referral counts!

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