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How to Clean Headlights with Bar Keepers Friend

March 20, 2024

How to Clean Headlights with Bar Keepers Friend

Believe it or not, many folks are unsure of how to clean foggy headlights.

If you’re someone who does quite a bit of driving throughout the year, you know there’s nothing more satisfying than giving your car a good wash. The body and windows of your car are typically the first things that come to mind, but it’s important to care for your headlights as well. Over time, the headlights of your car can accumulate a grimy film, and become foggy. This can impact how brightly your lights shine.

While it’s important to change out the bulbs as soon as you observe dimming or flickering, the lens and headlight cover need special care to ensure optimal shine while on the road. In this piece, you’ll not only learn how to clean headlights, but how to clean foggy headlights!

Before You Start: Always test our cleaning products on an inconspicuous area before beginning any cleaning project.

how to clean headlights - how to clean foggy headlights - before and after image
BKF Fan Submission from Peggy L.
“Headlights on my 2001 Ford were yellowed. A bit of water and BKF and they are like new!”

Step #1: Wet the Headlight Lens with a Cloth or Sponge

First things first, you’ll want to lightly soak a cloth or sponge with water and apply to the lens you’re about to clean. Assuming the dirt and debris have been sitting on the lens for some time, wetting the surface will ensure it loosens the dirt enough to wipe away easily.

Step #2: Wipe Away Lose Dirt & Debris

Using the same damp cloth or sponge, gently wipe away the loosened top-level debris from the headlight lens. Should you find some debris more difficult to wipe away, re-dampen your cloth or sponge and wipe away a little more vigorously. If you’re still struggling, there’s no need to worry. So long as the majority of dirt is removed, any excess can be cleaned when you begin “defogging” your lenses.

Step #3: Sprinkle BKF on Headlight Lens

Once the dirt and debris have been sufficiently wiped away from the headlight lens, it’s time to apply our cleanser. For the purpose of cleaning headlights (modern vehicles typically use polycarbonate plastic), we recommend using the classic Bar Keepers Friend powder cleanser. Lightly sprinkle some cleanser (a little goes a long way) onto the surface of the headlight. Make sure that the surface is still wet.


Are you more of a fan of Bar Keepers Friend soft cleaner? Here’s a great tutorial by YouTuber, Andrea Jean Cleaning:


Step #4: Rub Cleanser Gently Into Lens

Upon sprinkling the powder cleanser onto the wet headlights lens, you should see a paste begin to form. To make the paste more pliable, add just a little more water (and a little more cleanser if you desire). Once a paste has been created, you’ll want to grab a new cloth or sponge and gently rub the cleanser into the lens. Because some ingredients in Bar Keepers Friend may etch or dull delicate surfaces, it’s important to not scrub too hard. Keep rubbing until you notice that the lens is evenly coated in the mixture of water and cleanser.

Step #5: Rinse Thoroughly After One Minute

After the headlight lens surface has been evenly coated in the BKF cleanser, allow it to sit for no more than one minute. Once a full minute is up, rinse the headlight lens thoroughly with warm water. Continue to rinse (and wipe) until any residue from the cleanser is completely washed away and the surface of the lens begins to shine. If, for any reason, your headlights are still foggy after wiping down the lens and rinsing, we recommend repeating steps #3 for #5 and wiping a little more vigorously. 

Step #6: Wipe Dry to Reveal Clean Headlights

When your headlight lens has been thoroughly rinsed –  revealing a clear, gorgeous shine – grab a soft microfiber cloth and wipe the surface dry.  Now that your car’s headlights have been thoroughly cleaned, go ahead and test out the lights. We bet they look positively marvelous. 

Submit Your Before & After Pics!

Now that you’ve learned how to clean headlights (and how to clean foggy headlights, at that), why not snap some Before & After pics when you finish your project? Submit your pics to us here and we’ll feature them on our website!

About the Author

Felicia Savage is a content strategist, agile marketing enthusiast, and Director of Digital Marketing at Bar Keepers Friend. When she isn’t writing about her love for Bar Keepers Friend (or wiping down her stainless steel sinks), you can find Felicia sparring at her muay thai gym, doodling in her sketchbook, or watching silly cat videos on TikTok.

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