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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
DIY - Headlight Cleaning Guide

Alright boys and girls. Here is Uncle Verbals DIY Clean and Polish your headlights guide. I've seen so

many people ask what products to use or how to clean the headlights because of scuff marks or smudges

making them appear dirty and non sexy looking. I had some time today so I decided to clean the lights

and make this guide for others to use if they want to. Enjoy.

JUST AS A NOTE BEFORE WE BEGIN - Any black marks you see or what appears to be dust is actually from

the inside of my headlight, that was there when I bought the car, I plan on writing up a guide for

cleaning the inside of the headlight in the next few days.


Before Pics:


(Its not too dirty in the pic but up close there are scuff marks and imperfections)

Step 1:

Gather all the products you will be needing to do this cleaning. Its really not that much, in total

cost me maybe $30.

3 x White Terry Cloth Towels
1 x Rubbing Compound (Turtle or 3m I used Turtle since it was avail at the store I was at)
1 x Mequires PlastX
1 x Applicator Sponge (Like what you would use to apply wax)
1 x Waterproof sheet of 600 grit Sandpaper
1 x Waterproof sheet of 1500 grit Sandpaper
1 x Bucket of Soapy Water






Step 2:

Remove Headlights from Car and find a nice grassy spot to park yourself. Wet down the headlight with

some water. Note how foggy it kinda looks, most people will say thats on the inside and some of it is

yes, but a lot is on the outside. Letting gunk like tree sap, bugs or just dirty water onto the

headlights along with stones or other things hitting them can cause imperfections that cannot be

removed with just soap and water.





Step 3:


Take some of the 600 Grit sand paper and with Medium/Light pressure make long diagonal strokes across

the headlight starting from the bottom and working your way up. REMEMBER!!! to keep the headlight wet

all the time while you're doing this. Better to be overwet then under. The water helps clear any

debris and stops you from making larger scratches into the plastic with anything that may be on the

headlight itself.





The time this takes depends on how badly your headlight is damaged or dirty. I did mine for 3-4

minutes with Medium/Light pressure, remember we're just doing this to scratch the surface and make it

rough. Once you're gone over the entire headlight once or twice with the 600 grit your headlight will

look VERY hazzy don't panic this is normal. Sorry I didn't take a pic of what it looked like after the

600 Grit. The plastic will feel rough.



Step 4:

Wash headlight down to remove any debris from the surface. Again don't worry if it looks VERY VERY

hazy this is normal, cmon we just took sandpaper to plastic it wont look like glass just yet ;)
Now we take some of the 1500 Grit sand paper and do the exact same thing again. Keep the headlight wet

all the time you are donig this. Start from the bottom and work your way up making diagonal strokes

back and forth. (This is just to keep them uniform and I found doing it this way was easier to make it

over the hump our lowbeam light makes in the plastic) Remember to use Medium/Light pressure. The time

this will take is approx double what you spent with the 600 grit, We want to smooth out the majority

of the scratches. The headlight should be pretty much smooth at this point. Wash off Debris and let

headlight dry or use a cloth. It should look a little less hazy than the 600 grit.








Step 5:

Grab a White Terry Cloth and the Tutrle/3m Rubbing Compound. Apply about a Quarter size to the cloth




This is where all your strength and Endurance you've been building up in your arm is going to come in.
Start at a one point on the headlight (I started from turn signal corner) and make small circles

rubbing this compound onto the light use HARD PRESSURE. You will notice the compound may have

particles in it thats just because its a finer grit than the sand paper we were using. This is going

to pretty much remove all the scratches that we put on with the 600 and 1500 Grit sandpaper.





Keep rubbing this stuff in. You know you havn't been rubbing enough unless your arm feels like it is

going to fall off and then some.







KEEP RUBBING, CMON GUYS WE'RE ALMOST DONE.... kinda ;) Remember to use HARD PRESSURE we want to smooth

out all those scratches. Once you have rubbed for a while in one area, use a clean part of the Terry

Cloth and wipe the excess compound off and start on a new spot. Another quater sized piece on a clean

part of the cloth and continue. You will notice how much clearer the headlight is compared to how the

like looked after 600/1500 grit sandpaper. Once you have gone over the entire headlight with the

rubbing compound wash off the excess and dry with a towel.







Note how much cleaner it looks compared to before we used the compound, BUT it is still not good

enough for those of us who want it to look like sex, For Step 6 some of you are going to hate me for

this or wish you never attempted to clean your headlights because your arm feels like death.




Step 6:

REPEAT STEPS 4 AND 5 ONCE MORE

Use the 1500 grit sand paper making long strokes from left to right remember to keep the headlight

very wet while doing this. Use Medium/Light Pressure. Wash off the headlight once you are finished

with the sandpaper and use a clean part of the Terry Cloth with a quater sized piece of Rubbing

Compound and get back to rubbing circles.




Step 7:

Once you have finished wiping off the excess Rubbing Compound, let the headlight dry or use a cloth.

It should seem a little foggy but smooth like glass to the touch, if you still have chips or any

imperfections in the plastic you may need to go over it with sandpaper and rubbing compound one more

time.

Time to break out the Meguires PlastX and applicator sponge





Take the sponge and apply another quarter sized gob.






Start at one part of the headlight (I started at turning signal) and apply with medium/Light pressure

in circles onto the headlight. You may want to switch to your other arm if you havn't already just to

give yourself a break.

(Side note, now you know how it felt for Daniel LaRusso in Karate Kid... wax on wax off grasshopper)

you will slowly start to see the plastic clearing up and almost becoming glass like. Once you have

finished in one area used a clean piece of Terry Cloth and just wipe clean the plastic to remove any

excess PlastX. (The plastic is probably so smooth you may even hear squeeking as you're rubbing in

circles)




You can see where I started on the turning signal and it becomes foggy towards the center of the

headlight where I hadn't started rubbinb yet. (Note the sponge. I had some rubbing compound on my

figers so thats what the marks are, I was not using that side to apply the PlastX, those are just

finger imprints from where I was pushing on the pad)







In this pic above you can see where I had moved to polishing the high beam area its slowly starting to

come togeather now. Remember to wipe away any excess goo once you're done, you dont want it cooking

onto the plastic if you leave it there while you finish the rest of the headlight.




Once you are done and satisfied with the headlight, how clean it looks, no imperfections on the

outside and all that, go ahead and start on the other one. Here is a pic now that I'm done.





As you can see the headlight on the Left still is a little foggy near the highbeam area, I was not

actually done that one yet when I took the pic, but the headlight on the Right is done and

clear/smooth like glass.




Step 8:

Install headlights back on car and admire at what all your hard work has done.












As you can see all that I need to do now is clean the inside. Mostly the plastic covering within the

housing itself.
I hope this guide is helpful to others. :) good luck polishing.
 

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Wow. Nice write-up. It's definitely earned "Sticky" worthiness.

BTW, I can already feel my arms getting tired as I plan to do this tomorrow. :thumbup:
 

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yea good write up but i would recomend a microfiber towel instead of terry for best results. none the less good job bro
 

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Has anybody looked at TRC Headlight smoking post??

I'm thinking about Wetsanding a lot w/ 2000 grit. Clear Acrylic spray, wetsand, clear spray, wetsand etc etc.

and polish it w/ Plst X and Mother's polish.

What do y'all think????

I think that it will give more protection and shine. ??
 

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just did it to my passenger side headlight. Didn't work very well. I also repeated the sandpaper steps and using the rubbing compound 3 times. Even cleaned the inside as well multiple times.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
JCMiller said:
just did it to my passenger side headlight. Didn't work very well. I also repeated the sandpaper steps and using the rubbing compound 3 times. Even cleaned the inside as well multiple times.

what does the headlight look like? if you can still see scratches in it you may need to go over it again with 1500 grit, remember not to push hard, light to medium pressure, basically just the weight of your hand should be enough pressure. then just give'r with the rubbing compound. I'm not sure if I noted how long it took me in total but I would say 2 hours total for both headlights. it also depends on how scratched they are aswell remember, it may take you a few times to buff out all the scratches since you're only taking off a small layer at a time.

I am sorry it didn't work out on your first try I can see how this will be dissapointing :( all I can say is try it again, don't give up. Trust me it will clear up.
 

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well if you worked on them for two hours, then I can see how you got better results. I'll do it again. I can't see scratches in it, its just cloudy. It did work to a certain extent, perhaps I should have just worked at it a little longer. My arms were just hurting and I gave up because I had to pick up my sister from work and needed to put my bumper back on!
 

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Sorry about this, I don't want to poop on neone's parade, but I live in El Centro and my car constantly sits under the baking sun, my lights hazzed up once since i was here. I used a toothbrush, and white toothpaste, in a buffing motion then wipping it off all the haze was off, I did it on mine for a quarter of the time, and they came out great.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
blackdemon said:
Sorry about this, I don't want to poop on neone's parade, but I live in El Centro and my car constantly sits under the baking sun, my lights hazzed up once since i was here. I used a toothbrush, and white toothpaste, in a buffing motion then wipping it off all the haze was off, I did it on mine for a quarter of the time, and they came out great.

toothpaste is comaprable to 5000 grit rubbing compound thats all, its just like super super fine sand paper. That will work don't get me wrong but if your headlights are scratched or marked up using super fine sandpaper wont fix it anytime soon, you'd be there for hours upon hours rubbing. Like anything if you have a rough surface its always better to start with a rough sandpaper and work your way down to the finer materials to get things nice and smooth.
But good job on getting them clean :)
 

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Or you could just got to pepboys and get the headlight scratch and haze remover that you hook up to a drill. It takes like 5-10 minutes on each headlight. I did it and its only $10.
Just a suggestion if you dont want to kill your arms. LOL
 

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this also works on your sunroof, it deffinitly cleared it up, but in my case some plastic on my sunroof was "lifting" its hard to explain but although i still have minor scraches from sanding and need to buff them out, it worked great, great write up!
 

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heh!

theres a MUCH easier way to do this. if youve got crap on your headlight, look up a product called neverdull. its a stainless steel polisher. it does wonders for headlights. just be sure, once it hazes up, to remove it with glass cleaner + soft paper towel. itll shine even better than this method, and you wont kill your arm AND it takes less than 30 minutes.
 

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You can juts use Plastic-x and it works fine :)

Works for me! I clean my headlight with plastic-x one time per month (average) :)
 
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