How to Clean the Inside of a Headlight





Introduction: How to Clean the Inside of a Headlight

About: Professionally I have been a summer camp counselor, a Draftsman/designer, salesperson, bicycle mechanic, laminate flooring machine mechanic, teacher, and designer of the OP Loftbed. Personally I am a human...

The last time I cleaned my headlights, they still looked a little dirty. I had seen a magnet cleaning tool for inside fish tanks and thought I could make a couple of versions to help clean the inside of my headlights. Headlights are not airtight. They have a special vent that allows them to breath. When they get hot, the vent lets air out and when they get cold, the vent lets air in. If there is moisture and/or dust in that air, it can get into the headlight. This simple and easy to make tool can make it easy to clean the inside of your headlight.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

I made two versions of the cleaning tool. One out of some old t-shirt material and one out of a sponge. You will also need two strong magnets. I bought mine from an arts and crafts store but you could also use the magnets from a computer hard drive. I sewed them shut with needle and thread but they could also be held together with hot glue. I used a multi-tool for my scissors and knife. I found that using one of those grippy tools worked best for putting the magnet cleaning tool into and out of the headlight. I thought I could just drop it in and pull it out, but there was a metal piece just inside the headlight that the magnet would catch on.

Step 2: Cutting, Inserting the Magnets, and Sewing Them Up

Cut two small pieces of t-shirt and two small pieces of sponge. The magnet can be folded up in the t-shirt material and sewn shut. For the sponges, I cut a pocket, for the magnet, put the magnet in, and sewed it shut.

Step 3: Using the Cleaner Magnets

I used the grippy tool to place the magnet cleaning tool into the headlight. I then placed the second magnet cleaning tool on the outside. The two attracted each other and made it easy to scrub the inside of the headlight. This got rid of all the dust and grime and made My headlights look new again. I was able to just use the magnet cleaning tools without any cleaning agent. If you are going to use a cleaning agent, I would test it on a hidden portion on the outside of the headlight first, to make sure it does not have an adverse effect on the headlight.

Step 4: Video

Here is a video I made of the process.

As always,

Thanks for watching and enjoy.



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    20 Discussions

    Simplicity is a hallmark of brilliance. I really need to make one of these things- cleaning the outside of the headlights just isn't cutting it anymore. Excellent idea.

    Excellent instructional video, young man! Thank you so much!

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Sew a long and strong thread to your inside cleaning pad so that all you need to extract it is remove the outside magnet and then pull on the thread. Great project!

    1 reply

    I've poured rubbing alcohol in headlights, swished it around and then poured it out and had decent results. Unless you have the time to let them air dry or have access to compressed air to lightly blow into the housing, this is more time consuming and won't actually get them as clean as doing it your way. Rubbing alcohol shouldn't harm the plastic, but like you said, test it on an inconspicuous place before possibly damaging the headlamp. For those that have never changed a light bulb, handle halogen and HID bulbs from the base, not the glass, but if you do touch the glass, clean it with a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol to remove any oils from contact with your skin. The oils from your skin can shorten the life of the bulb and I've seen some that shattered, (inside the housing), when the lights were turned back on and they started heating up.


    1 year ago

    Nice one. Simple solution, best kind. !!

    I won't drive anything else unless I don't have a choice. I got my first one, a DL coupe, in 1978, and having been owning nothing but Subarus ever since. My daughters are each driving THEIR second ones, and my husband only recently had to buy something else because the biggest Subaru wasn't big enough for his needs. Subaru ROCKS!

    Good idea, but one drawback, my head lights have a seal it's like gule and sticky

    1 reply