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How to clean your headlights

10th October 2022

Why should you clean your headlights?

Headlights often get overlooked when it comes to deep cleaning, though they are one of the most important features on your car. Without them, your vision may be compromised while driving in the dark or in fog and could be dangerous. Over time your headlights can accumulate dirt and grime which can significantly impact your headlight’s brightness and compromise safety. That’s why it is essentialyou regularly give them a good clean. The good news though, is that cleaning your headlights is relatively straightforward, not to mention regularly cleaning your headlights is something simple you can do to increase your chances of passing your MOT.

Why do headlights need to be cleaned?

There are many reasons your vehicle headlights need to be cleaned. These are:

  • Dirt – regularly driving your car produces a thin layer of dirt and chemicals that can gather on the headlights casing causing the beams to dim.
  • Oxidisation – a clear layer is coated on your headlight lenses to help prevent acrylic from oxidising. As time goes on, this coating can wear off causing the UV light to oxidise the casing turning it yellow.
  • Wear and tear – the protective coating on your headlights is prone to scratches and scrapes from debris on the road. When this reaches past the protective layer, the casing can become damaged and appear cloudy.
  • Water Vapour – headlights come with a watertight seal that can break over time due to wear and tear. When this happens, water can collect inside the casing.

How to clean your headlights?

What you’ll need:

  • Sponge
  • Wax
  • Soapy water
  • Tape
  • Microfibre cloth
  • 400-grit and 600-grit sandpaper

1. Tape around your headlights

Using tape, make a perimeter around your headlight to emphasise the area that needs to be cleaned. Avoid using strong adhesive tape for this as you do not want to cause any damage to your car’s paintwork.

2. Wash down your headlights

Wash down your headlights with warm soapy water. This is to remove build-up of gunk and residue.

3. Sandpaper your headlights

Wet the 400-grit sandpaper and smooth across the surface until all of the flaws and blemishes have come out. Avoid any motion that can dig into the casing.

It is best to begin using little pressure when cleaning your headlights with sandpaper, then build up until you are confident applying more pressure. This is because using sandpaper too abrasively can cause irreparable damage, especially if you are a beginner using this method.

4. Sandpaper your headlight casing

Sand any gritty areas on the casing, being sure to check your work regularly.

5. Repeat

If needed, you may need to repeat steps 3 and 4 using 600-grit sandpaper or higher.

6. Wipe away your headlights

Wipe down your headlights to ensure all dirt and dust have been removed and dry with a microfibre towel. Then apply protective wax.

If you have cleaned your headlights and the beams are still not as strong as they should be, your bulbs may need replacing. You can get this checked by bookin your vehicle for a service at your local Merityre or you can contact our friendly team today.