Defog Your Car's Headlights

Over time your car's headlights haze or fog over due to sand, grit, and other debris literally sandblasting the headlight. Defogging your car's headlights will improve both the light's appearance and function. Buying a wet-sanding defog kit works well, but you can also do the job with denatured alcohol (methylated spirits) and some elbow grease.

Defogging headlights consists of removing the scratches that have been sandblasted onto the surface of the headlight. You can do this by wet-sanding the surface or using denatured alcohol to strip away and polish out the scratches. A user on Mazda forum tried both approaches side-by-side and both seemed to work equally well. We've covered methods using toothpaste (polishing) and sandpaper (sanding) in the past, but these are both worth considering as well.

The wet-sanding method involves washing the headlight with water and soap, using masking tape to protect the paint around the light, sanding with an abrasive compound, buffing, and finally polishing the headlight. You can do this by hand, using a drill or rotary tool, or even an orbital sander.

The polishing method requires meths, sold in any home improvement store in the painting section. This method is a lot less complicated — just use a rag soaked with it to firmly polish the headlight several times. The light may still look foggy while the liquid is on the surface, so after you polish the light for a few minutes take a break and let the alcohol evaporate. You may have to do this two or three times to get the headlight sufficiently defogged.

Whichever method you choose, defog your headlights once every year or two for both good looks and maximum visibility.

Defogging Car Headlights [CarPart4U]


    I'm glad the Australian spec MX6 had glass headlights...nothing to worry about :)

    How friggin fast do you have to be travelling to sandblast your light lenses? I've had a few cars for over ten years and never had this problem! Are the American ones made of plastic? #}

    Brasso works very well for this too. With either a polishing cloth or a power buffer as in the picture.

    Seeing Lifehacker forces me to this site when I want to go to your American site,I would expect the articles to be converted to Australian vernacular.

    As far as I am aware, denatured Alchohol is what we know as Methylated Spirits in this country

    It's worth noting that this usually only occurs on headlights that are made out of plastic, typically imported Asian cars.

    They just can't stand the heat of the Aussie sun.

    My CRX had the problem and after doing this for the 3rd time one summer I just ponied up and bought some AU versions and never had a problem.

    Actually, AUTOSOL metal polish applied with a bit of elbow grease in the shade, when the light is cool works a charm. Even on yellowed polycarbonate.

    Just make sure theres no dried peices of autosol in the paste.

    Have to agree with Mr T. on this. If you are going to bring a link to the local site, should make sense without having to google what is being written about. Even localising the video would be helpful. Mightycarmods does an excellent video on the pro's and con's of different headlight cleaners and how to use them.

      I'm pretty alive to US/Aus differences in terminology, but will freely admit denatured alcohol/methylated spirits had escaped me. Won't happen again, that one.


    We used to use good old fashioned Brasso to polish up acrylics...

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