Headlamp Lens Restore Trick

Headlamp Lens Restore

A common issue with headlamp lenses are that over time, the clear plastic becomes foggy or cloudy.  This obstacle degrades your illumination, but not to worry.

I'm going to show you a  headlamp lens restore trick I use. The fogginess generally comes from a combination of sunlight damage, road dirt, grease and grime. Once the lens becomes too obstructed, the vehicle can become dangerous to drive at night. Truthfully in some states, it may not pass vehicle inspections.

Sometimes the headlamp assemblies become so opaque that there is no saving them. Before you go out and pay hundreds of dollars plus labor to replace them. Take a look at one of the headlamp lens restore trick I use. This works great when headlamp lens isn't real bad.

Bug Spray?

I have been using bug spray with Deet, to restore headlamp lenses for years. It has worked about 95% of the time. The ones that it didn't work on, really needed to be replaced. There are methods where you can sand the lens with really fine sandpaper.

You can start with 1000 grit and work your way up to 3000 grit. Then buff the lens about the same way you would buffing the painted finish on a car. There are Headlamp Restore Kits that come with sanding pads. It comes with the means to buff the lens out. You get a sealant to protect from road-grime and the UV's from the sun.

In this quick trick, I am going to show you how to use bug spray to clear your headlamp lenses. Of course this only works if the lenses are not too far deteriorated. If your lens seems scaly or flaking, or if the discolorations appear to be inside the lens.

This or any other product will not work. The Deet eats into the lens mildly. So you don't want to wash it or touch it for an hour or so. Also, you don't want to soak the lens down as that can ruin it.

Click on any image to get a larger view.... 

The Before Shot

As you can see this headlamp wasn't incredibly bad but was moderately yellowed. Really bad compared to the other side.

Even though this doesn't look that bad. It will decrease the illumination about 15 to 20 percent. 

This headlamp lens could be sanded and buffed, it would last a little longer. However, since it is mild, the quick wipe of Deet will work fine.

Headlamp Lens Restore

Using Bug Spray?

Pretty much any brand insect repellent with Deet will work. I have been using "Deep Woods Off" for many, many years and it has always worked great.

Just ensure that whatever brand you buy, the can or bottle states that it contains Deet. If it doesn't, it will do nothing at all.

The Deet has a slight etching quality. When you wipe it on, you can feel it start working. Deet softens the plastic, this is how it restores the lens.  

Headlamp Lens Restore

Spray The Rag

Spray the repellent onto a clean rag. DO NOT spray the repellent directly onto the headlamp lens cover. This can cause spotting or streaking.

Spray a generous amount onto the towel, evenly enough that most of the towel is covered.

There is information about this same procedure all over the internet. Many say you can use a paper towel. I am telling you DO NOT. The paper towel can come apart and stick into the lens. 


In this case, the term "WIPE" is just that. You DO NOT Rub or bare down hard. You just run the rag gently over the lens, try not to make more that two passes.

Try to cover as much area as you can in every wipe.

Deet softens the plastic so you can actually destroy the lens if you aggressively rub hard and for too long.

After you wipe the headlamp lens, let it set for an hour or two before getting it wet or washing the car.

If you have any car wax, you can wax the lens the next day to add protection from the sun and road-grime.

The After Shot

As you can see this headlamp has a much clearer look, which allows the illumination to extend further forward.

It also brings the appearance of the car up. It is amazing how headlamps and wheels can make a car look great. 

There are many headlamp lens restoration kits on the market and most really do a nice job. Click the button below to view a wide variety of kits.