Jun 23, 2012

Pearly Lights

My car is a beast.  Not in looks, in heart.  It's a 12 year old Honda Civic. I've owned it for 8 years.  I will likely hit the 200,000 mile mark within the next month.  I've taken good care of it, but it's showing its age, for sure.  In the last year or so, my headlights have gotten so oxidized and filmy that it's become hard for me to drive at night.  And before you go thinking that I'm acting like an octogenarian when it comes to driving at night, let me tell you that it is not just me being a wimp.  When I'm being followed by another car at night, I can see the shadow my car casts on the road in front of me because my headlights can't even illuminate the road directly in front of me as well as the headlights of the car BEHIND me.  It's a problem.

To illustrate, here is what driving at night is supposed to look like:

And here's what it looks like in my car:

Not good.

I have been on a mission to "fix" my headlights for a while.  I have tried everything to reduce the cloudiness that was going on with those things.  Elbow grease.  Green scrubby pads.  Magic Eraser.  Nothing really worked.  I almost bought some "as seen on TV" stuff but couldn't stomach spending so much money for something that got mixed reviews.

And then today I saw an article about removing headlight oxidization with toothpaste, of all things.  It had to be a hoax.  Some troll wanted me to go smear toothpaste on my headlights.  So I looked it up somewhere else and found the same thing.  Toothpaste!  With before and after pictures that looked amazing.

I had to try.

Here's what my car's headlights looked like before, up close and personal.


Take a damp rag and squeeze a generous ribbon of toothpaste out.

Hey, look at me, I've got a glob of toothpaste on a damp rag.

Then start scrubbing your headlight using a circular motion.  You don't need to exert a lot of force, but you do need to scrub for a few minutes.


The more oxidized your headlights are, the longer you will need to scrub.  I ended up scrubbing for about 10 minutes.  And contemplating how strange it is to scrub your headlights with toothpaste.

Are we done yet?

Then you just rinse your headlights off with water.  If your headlights are still not as clear as you'd like, repeat the process.

I have to say that although my headlights did not look *perfect,* they were much improved.  See for yourself- I snapped this picture after I finished scrubbing the headlight on the passenger side.

Passenger side is lookin good!  Driver side, not so much.

And here's a close-up of the driver's side headlight after I was done.

Minty fresh.

Pretty awesome!  I love that it makes my car look like less of a hoopty, and obviously I am less dangerous on the roads at night because now I can SEE!  Plus I didn't have to buy the "as seen on TV" stuff or replace the headlight cover, and obviously I already had toothpaste.  Headlight fix and safety WIN for zero dollars!!  Not bad for a tube of toothpaste and a damp rag, eh?


  1. wow...mine are already getting like that and I was wondering what it was and what to do about it! Thanks for the tip!

    1. We did Steve's too, and it worked great on his as well. Such a random thing to do! Makes you wonder who figured it out in the first place.

  2. Toothpaste is really a good alternative for cleaning headlights, and way much cheaper than buying a complete restoration kit. What’s important is to be able to keep it delivering optimum lighting for safe travels.

    1. No kidding... the restoration kits I saw were not cheap!