Restoring headlights with toothpaste

If your car’s headlights have dulled with age, you can return them to their original condition with toothpaste and elbow grease.

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can do serious damage to the plastic cases protecting car headlights. With prolonged exposure, the plastic can begin to yellow and look “foggy”. It’s not a good look and may be reducing the effectiveness of your headlights – making driving in low light conditions less safe. Luckily, there’s a solution at hand – and you already have it in your bathroom.

Because it’s a fine abrasive, toothpaste is the perfect substance to polish headlights. When gently applied, the toothpaste will scrub away the dirty, scratched and yellowed top “layer” to reveal clean, clear plastic. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Apply a small amount of toothpaste to a clean rag.
  2. Rub the toothpaste onto the headlight with small, circular motions.
  3. Wash the headlight with clean water, then wipe dry.
  4. Repeat the first three steps if the plastic isn’t clean and clear.

It’s best to use a plain, simple toothpaste. Some of the brands that are specifically designed to fight bad breath or whiten teeth contain slightly larger particles, which may be too harsh for the headlight plastic.

Be careful when applying the toothpaste and ensure you’re not also buffing the paintwork. A light abrasive such as toothpaste is unlikely to do serious damage, but it’s best to avoid applying to paint.

Once your headlights are clean, you may want to apply wax or sealant. This will protect the plastic from the ultraviolet rays, ensuring it stays clearer for longer. Otherwise the plastic may fog up again in two or three months.

Once your headlights are looking fantastic, it may be time to give the whole car a makeover. If that’s the case, check out these mistakes people make when washing cars.

And while you have it handy, here are some further ways you can use toothpaste to brighten things up around the house.