Instructables
So you're driving around super late at night in the middle of Nowhere, NM - and you realize you can't see a THING.

And you and your significant other talk about cleaning the headlights, or getting new bulbs, or something. But the store bought kits cost way more than you can afford because you just spent all your money on a cross-country move. And then one of the lights goes out and you replace it, and it doesn't make much of a difference.

So what do you do? Google it, and then wind up cleaning them with toothpaste.

I have to admit I didn't know if this would work, but I am pleasantly surprised.

When I go to pick up the boy at work tonight I will SEE ALL THE THINGS!
 
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Step 1: What you'll need:

  • regular ol' toothpaste
  • old towels or rags
  • water for rinsing
  • a pair of filthy headlights
I'm using old bar mop towels and Arm & Hammer toothpaste. We bought it to actually clean our mouths, but it is the worst thing I've ever put in my mouth. Hooray for reuse!

Or, you could try any of these amazing things with it.

Step 2: Scrub!

Picture of Scrub!
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Squeeze out a bit of toothpaste on the rag and scrub the headlight.

Scrub however you want. Circular motion adds nothing.

Watch how fast the grime comes off! Shoo howdy!

Step 3: Admire headlight dirt.

Picture of Admire headlight dirt.
Your rag/towel/cloth of choice will look like this. Good job!

I can't say that yours will look much worse than this, though... our Altima is old and very dirty. I'm pretty sure it got vacuumed for the first time ever in 12+ years before we moved to Oakland. Tyler admitted to only washing it maybe once a year too. FOR SHAME
Ahmedqatar23 days ago

I need to clean my car's headlights so i will try your way!!

Am I the only one that is thinking: Who the heck discovered that toothpaste would clean headlights LOL. Anyway nice job, and I am doing this tomorrow and will try to post pics.

Dakota

deepta3 months ago

This is a must do! thanks for the tut! i read somewhere that should not use the whitening ones! any insight on that?? or any toothpaste will do??

tucker3174 months ago

I tried this on hubby's headlights. They were not as bad as some I've seen, but it took some serious elbow grease to even see any results. I used cheap Pepsodent on my first try with no results, then added some baking soda to make a gloppy paste of the toothpaste/baking soda. After scrubbing and rinsing 4-5 times, the headlights are much better, but still have a light "film". My neighbor came over to see what I was doing - he was just washing his car and I thought we'd try it on his car b/c his headlights are REALLY bad - yellow and probably barely visible at night! But too many distractions with his granddaughter. Bummer, cause that would have been a good test.

sean72398 months ago
Baby tooth paste works even better!
veeguy1 year ago
Fantastic! I was at Wal Mart earlier tonight and was looking at kits to polish lenses. They ran from $14.- to over $20.- I am going to sell this car, and didn't want to spend this on headlight polishing, so I passed. I'll be heading out to the garage tomorrow AM, right after I brush *my* teeth to give my Hyundai some "oral care". Wish me luck!
kretzlord2 years ago
wonderful re-use here. I was wondering, how long does the clarity last? The commercial products generally have a "sealer" or "finisher" that seems to add a shine and supposedly keeps the lens clear for a longer time. Any ideas on this, or a diy version of the sealer?
You can probably try a clear coat spray paint
GreyWarden1 year ago
nice dude! I live in the middle of nowhere NM! My right headlight is like that lol.
Takelababy1 year ago
First thing in the morning....... thanks
sa2nz1 year ago
Thank you
timwikander2 years ago
First attempt. Not too bad. I think I may need to do this 3 or 4 times haha. I live in bug country Maryland and I think I've got a few layers to go through.
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This is exactly what I needed!! Cheap and effective. The best combination.
eoverton2 years ago
Actually, this is a fairly old trick among auto restorers, who are frequently faced with the problem of scratched plastic on things like instrument clusters. Here again, toothpaste is the solution.

While you're at it, newspaper is actually good stuff to clean auto glass.

And dipping aluminum foil in Coca-Cola and rubbing it on rust spots on a bumper will remove them. Actually, Coca-Cola is also great at removing oil stains from concrete. Something to consider if you need one more reason to kick your soda habit...
Sounds like you have more than one Instructable up your sleeve! You should post them!
Hint taken. Next time I do any work on any of the cars around here, I'll take a notebook and a camera and get to work... ;-)
I agree with scoochamaroo :)
Yay!
Toothpaste is so awesome. I use it to clean jewelry too.
onemoroni12 years ago
This is a great idea. I use "soft scrub", but will try this too.
kd7eir2 years ago
Exactly my kind of information! Keep up the good work.
Ok, did you remove the headlights and clean them or did you just clean them while on the car?
My grandpa's car can seriously use this done..Thanks for the tip, going to do this to his car and my truck today
jessyratfink (author)  straycatmeow2 years ago
Just cleaned them while they were on the car. :)

It's so nice to see at night again!
CementTruck2 years ago
Nowhere, NM? Is that somewhere between T or C and Tucumcari?
Neat-0-keen-0
Aron3132 years ago
Dude!!!!!! This is exactly what i have been telling my friends! I tell them all the time that toothpaste cleans up scratches an tough dirt!

Great Instructable!