How To Get Rid Of Headlight Fog

In this article, we’re going to show you a few easy steps to help you get rid of headlight fog.

It is one of those maintenance jobs we often ignore, but at the same time, it could be a life-saving piece of maintenance.

Night driving, or driving in hostile weather, is undoubtedly the most hazardous of all road conditions. That’s when we rely on headlights. And yet they are the parts we tend to pay the least attention to when drawing up the maintenance lists for your vehicles.

If you have been noticing dimmer headlights than normal as of late, or that your beams seem to be slightly diffused, this could very well be due to headlight fog. And we’re about to show you how to get rid of the problem.

What Causes Headlights To Fog Up

First up, let’s start with the cause, and then we’ll get to the solution.

And to explain the cause, we’ll get into science, but just a little.

Most automotive manufacturers make headlights from polycarbonate plastic. Unlike glass in older cars, this kind of plastic is highly scratch resistant and ultimately more durable.

But they do have a downside…

Over time, the layers of this polycarbonate plastic begin to break down. The major culprit here is UV exposure. Once that happens, your headlight lenses start to discolor (they take on a yellowish hue, almost the color of brackish water.)

And, this yellowish hue absorbs the blue-white light emitted by the bulbs. So, that is why you get that poor, yellow blob of light in front of your vehicle at night, instead of a bright, steady beam that illuminates the road ahead.

This is a simple problem to solve, and we’re about to tell you how.

What You’ll Need To Get Rid Of Headlight Fog

Our first suggestion would be to go out and get a headlight cleaning kit. These are available from most automotive stores, and contain everything you need (and instructions) to clear headlight fog and UV damage.

There are other options too, though. And here’s a list:

  1. Toothpaste
  2. Baking soda
  3. Polishing compound

How To Get Rid Of Headlight Fog

Getting rid of foggy headlights is an easy DIY job – and you need no skills for it. Here is what you will need to do the job:

  1. Either a kit from an automotive store OR baking soda/toothpaste
  2. Old towels or rags
  3. If you have sensitive skin – latex gloves
  4. Plenty of clean water
  5. A brush with soft bristles
  6. A mild cleanser

Once you have these together, the steps are easy.

  1. Clean the surface of the headlight of debris. Use the mild cleanser to get rid of stains, particulates, and dead bugs.
  2. Dry with a towel – make sure the surface is completely free of moisture
  3. Be liberal with your heavyweight cleanser. If you’re using toothpaste or baking soda, apply the paste thickly over both lenses. Leave to dry.
  4. Once dry, the cleanser should have an almost powdery quality. Use the soft-bristled brush to wipe it away.
  5. Use a clean rag to wipe away any remaining toothpaste or baking soda residue.

That’s it! If your headlights aren’t completely sparkly after the first round of cleaning, simply repeat one or two more times.

How To Prevent Headlights From Fogging Up

This is important. It’s fine to get that brand-new feel from your headlights once you’ve gone through all the above-mentioned steps, but what you really want to achieve is to prevent the fogging to occur again – at least for the foreseeable future.

So, the only thing that will do that for you, is a surface protector. This is something like a plastic-based sealant that protects the polycarbonate plastic of the headlight against harmful UV rays.

These compounds are available at any auto spares shop, and they’re not expensive. You simply apply it as you would wax to the bodywork of your car. Let it dry. Polish it off, either with some elbow grease or with an orbital buff.

A parting shot

It really pays to take care of your car’s headlights. In this case, it’s not so much about preventing small issues from becoming expensive damage in the long run, as with many of the moving parts on your vehicle, but rather about your safety and driving pleasure.

And, face it, there is nothing more comforting than when you get in your car at night with the knowledge your headlights are completely up to the task of illuminating the road ahead.

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Richard Nickleson is the author and owner behind Headlight Reviews. He first started the site as a hobby to share his insights on car parts and specifically headlight bulbs, but it soon ballooned and now he writes on all topics surrounding headlights bulbs. If you've got a bulb question, contact Richard here.