How to Clean Headlights With Toothpaste

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That toothpaste you use to brush your teeth can also clean your car’s foggy headlights. Yes, toothpaste can serve as a home cleaning agent for removing tough stains from various surfaces – just as it cleans your teeth; well, that was just a pun.

Looking to understand how to clean headlights with toothpaste? It’s basically applying toothpaste on the dirty or foggy headlight, then getting a toothbrush to use in brushing out the dirt. This should be done precisely to avoid damaging your car’s paint finish or the shiny wax layer.

Toothpaste is a bit abrasive, and that helps in cleaning foggy headlights. Of course, there are other items to bring along when you decide to use toothpaste to wash your car’s headlights.

how to clean headlights with toothpaste
Image Credit: Pixabay

Is Toothpaste a Cleaning Agent?

Of course, it is. Regular toothpaste (not the gel types) is abrasive; this abrasive nature of the paste makes it possible for it to be used to remove the light oxidization layer from hazy headlights and other surfaces. Toothpaste can be used to clean out dirt from plastics and other similar hard surfaces.

Toothpaste is typically mild abrasive, made with baking soda, capable of removing stains and staunch dirt from walls, shoes, plastics, etc. Some people even consider toothpaste as a type of detergent. When you use toothpaste to clean a surface, you’d need to also use soapy water to rinse the area you cleaned to wipe off the toothpaste’s residue.

How to Clean Headlights With Toothpaste

There are two procedures here – first, you need to wash the hazy headlights with soapy water and then use the toothpaste to “polish” them. Also, after applying the toothpaste, you’d have to clean it off and rinse the headlights using clean soapy water or a glass cleaning product.


  • Regular toothpaste
  • Warm soapy water
  • Toothbrush
  • Microfiber towels or clean rags
  • Absorbent cloth or chamois
  • Masking tape

First Procedure: Wash The Headlights

Step One:

Pour the soapy water on your car’s headlight and wash it as you’d normally do. Use a clean chamois or microfiber cloth to wipe off the soapy water. This preliminary wash is to remove quick dirt and debris from the headlights.

Step Two:

Dry out the headlights after washing them thoroughly with soapy water. Ensure to use a lint-free towel or microfiber cloth to avoid leaving debris and residue after the cleaning. When you’re done with the drying, get your masking tape and mark out the paint finish around the headlights.

Step Three:

You should use mild tape so that when removing it, it won’t pull the paint finish you used it to protect. The reason for taping out the headlight is because the gritty nature of toothpaste, coupled with the pressure you may apply when polishing the headlight(s), may remove your car’s paint.

Step Four:

With the headlights properly taped out (after the initial washing), proceed with the second procedure.

Second Procedure: Apply Toothpaste

Step One:

Apply the toothpaste directly to the headlight cover or onto a lint-free towel (chamois), and use the cloth/rag/towel to clean the headlight. (Note: You should use ordinary toothpaste and not the gel type). Ensure that you put enough paste to cover the entire headlight surface.

Step Two:

Start gently and increase the pressure if need be. Clean the headlight using a toothbrush or a clean, lint-free rag. After saturating the headlight and cleaning it with toothpaste, let it sit for a while – you could be cleaning other headlights while waiting for the first one to cure.

Step Three:

Use another clean towel to wipe off the toothpaste from the headlight and watch how clean it looks. If not as clean as you wish, reapply the toothpaste, but this time, don’t use a cloth or rag; use a soft bristle brush (or a toothbrush) – something a bit tougher than regular paper towels.

Step Four:

When it looks like the headlights have become as clean as you wanted, then get clean soapy water to rinse off the toothpaste residue on the lights. Remember to remove the tape around the headlights when you’re done washing, and equally clean out any toothpaste that may have gotten under the tap during the washing.

If you find toothpaste bulbs on your car’s paint after the wash, don’t scrub it; simply pray warm soapy water on it until it goes. Scrubbing toothpaste on a car’s paint may damage the finish or remove the wax layer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Toothpaste Really Clean Car Headlights?

Yes, it does, but it requires more pressure than other home DIY headlight cleaning solutions. You have to apply more elbow grease to get the abrasive toothpaste to remove the foggy layer of your car’s headlights – not many people are willing to undergo this stress.

How Long To Leave Toothpaste On Headlights Before Wiping It Off?

There is no particular amount of time to leave it on there, but you should start cleaning it off after about three minutes. If the headlights didn’t clean as well as you wanted, apply another toothpaste and clean again.

What Type of Toothpaste is Used for Headlights Cleaning?

Regular toothpaste is the best option for headlight cleaning because they are mildly abrasive, and that abrasiveness is what could possibly clean out hazy headlights. The gel types are not abrasive, so they are not for cleaning headlights.


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