Restore / clean headlamp lenses


What is the best way to clean / restore plastic headlamp lens that have a white film over them?

There are many “products” offered on line, but I’d appreciate advice on which of them actually work, or if there’s a better way…


It’s more than just a film. The surface is covered with minute scratches and there is some chemical deterioration.

Many people have tried their own remedies, such as polishing with toothpaste or Brass-O. I used wet sanding with increasingly fine sandpaper. Folks who tried these methods claim success.

If you would prefer a commercial product, I have heard good things about Meguiar’s Plastic-X.


I totally agree with Steve, but I have not tried the sandpaper method. If (When?) I need it I will try Meguiar’s as I have used their products on my convertible windows and found they worked well.


There is a kit available at the auto parts store. It includes very fine sandpaper that you can use to carefully wet sand the plastic lenses. You work from course sandpaper to finer sandpaper, sanding in a different direction each time (up and down or side to side). The grit of the starting sand paper will depend on how bad the lenses are. After you sand and clean the lenses, you will polish them. It is a cheap temporary fix, but replacing the lenses is only an expensive temporary fix. I sand and polish the lenses about once a year.


I’ve used both the store bought headlight polish and regular polishing compound, using a drill-mounted buffing pad, both with success. I saw a guy on a TV show restore the headlights with wet sanding, starting with (if memory serves) about a 400 grit and working in three steps to a (I think) 1500 or perhaps even 2000 grit. The results were great, but it seemed like more work than the way I do it.


I’ve used toothpaste and Meguiar’s PlastX. Both work well, but it seems the toothpaste actually keeps the lens relatively clear longer than the PlastX; however, the PlastX gets the lenses much clearer.


I was going to try toothpaste on mine too, except my neighbor was washing his car at the time and I thought he just might phone for the guys in white coats so I left it alone.


Just tell him you’re removing the plaque from your headlights.


I have found that Rain-X gets the yellow out but does not remove the fine scratches that cause the haze. Plastic-X worked very well for the haze but I haven’t see the yellowing lens problem for years now.


ha ha ha Good one mb.