This IS the best headlight restoration kit that you can buy! If you want to use a headlight cleaner that works every single time, and save money, and be done in 30 minutes – check this out headlight restoration DIY!
I get it – headlight restoration is boring. But it’s a necessary evil, if you’re wanting to sell your car or just want your ride to look nice. Many people think if their headlights become cloudy – they need new headlights (which can be a fortune!).
That is absolutely NOT true and you can clean your headlights yourself using our headlight restoration DIY.
Headlight Restoration Kit
Searching for options for headlight cleaning is time consuming, so we found the best headlight restoration kit based on the advice of a professional car detailer we know and our online research. I learned so much about the process. I’m sharing my knowledge below!
Why Are My Headlights Cloudy?
Your headlights oxidized, but what happened? Well, the US government only requires auto manufacturers to produce lenses that don’t fog for three years. Beyond that, it’s up to you to clean off the accumulated oil, road grime, and other airborne contaminants!
The heat from your headlights bakes that grime into the lens, and eventually that build-up will start to degrade the UV coating on the light. You’ll see that yellowish color which means you’re likely going to have to invest in headlight restoration of some sort.
Headlight Cleaner vs Headlight Restoration
Headlight cleaner can work (have you seen the toothpaste hack?), but honestly if your headlights are even close to what ours look like above, you’re going to have to use our headlight restoration kit.
You can try a headlight cleaner first. It depends on what you are looking to spend. When we get to this stage we typically forgo the headlight cleaner and go right to the headlight restoration kit. We know it’s going to work!
Professional Cost vs Headlight Restoration DIY
After a little investigating we discovered that headlight restoration is about $100 – $150, but a headlight restoration DIY kit is about $15 – $20, and it typically does 2 – 3 (even 4!) cars. We have three cars, so multiply that first number and you see that we’re going to do a headlight restoration DIY every single time.
Best Headlight Restoration Kit
If you’re wondering how to clean your headlights, we found the best headlight restoration kit that money can buy. And I think if you check out the results above (the before and after), you’ll see that this kit achieves perfect results! Forget all the other products out there . . . this is it.
We added the water step and the ultra fine wet sandpaper to get the headlights looking as crystal clear as possible. Are you ready to learn about the best headlight restoration kit (and our modifications)? Keep reading!
Gather These Supplies
- 3M Headlight Restoration Kit – includes all the sanding discs referred to below
- Painter’s tape (it comes in the kit but we used our own)
- 2500 – 3000 grit wet sandpaper (extra step which we’ll explain)
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Cleaning solution/rubbing alcohol
Here’s the before photo. Purchasing new headlights can cost anywhere from $150 – $1,500 PER headlight depending on the car. No reason to do that!
Here are the materials. For this 3M Headlight Restoration Kit you’re going to need a drill for the sanding. The drill is key to buffing the headlights out more than just headlight cleaner alone could do. This is why it’s the best headlight restoration kit!
Clean the headlight. I used a solvent and thinner solution but rubbing alcohol would work as well.
The kit comes with tape – however, we needed a wider tape due to the chrome rim around these particular headlights. So we used a wider painter’s tape that we already had. Do this on both lights.
Put the foam velcro buffing pad from your kit in the drill, then place the 500-grit sanding disc on the pad.
Then spray water on the headlight and on your sanding disc. This will keep everything lubricated so it can flow and prevent scratching.
Using a slow to medium speed on your drill, apply medium pressure and keep the pad flat on the headlight. Begin sanding, moving back and forth over the surface until you see the yellow UV damage and oxidation start to come off the surface. Reapply water as needed so that you are always sanding on a wet surface.
The sanding disc may occasionally load up with material; use your spray bottle to clean off the disc. It will look like you’re applying paste but that is just headlight grunge!! :0
This is what the headlight will look like as you are working with it. Make three or four complete passes with your drill and sanding pad, adding water as needed.
Spray water on the light and wipe off with a clean rag and this is how the headlight will appear. It will look worse before it gets better!
Now apply the 800-grit sanding disc from the kit and repeat the steps you used with the 500-grit disc (so yes, use the water again).
If you damage the tape while sanding, repair the tape before continuing so you don’t sand the trim around the light.
Spray and wipe off the light again. This is how the light will appear after making three to four complete passes over the light with the 800-grit disc. Looking just a bit better now, no?
We added this step outside of the kit to increase the crystal-clearity (yes I made that up) even further. Use your 2500 grit wet sanding paper – spray water on the headlight and directly on the sandpaper, then start sanding the light by hand. Use circular motion.
Remember to reapply water as it dries so you will always be working with a wet surface (as you did with the sanding discs). The 2500 grit sandpaper will reduce the size of the scratching on the headlights to very fine.
When finished hand sanding, wipe the light dry and you will see that you are getting closer to the desired effect.
Now you are going to apply the “magic disc” to the foam pad on the drill. This is the 3M 3000 grit Trizact foam sanding disc. This disc truly has magic properties!
Use this disc as you did the other discs: keep your surface wet as you make 3 to 5 passes over the headlight. You will see the haze begin to disappear.
Keep applying water and passing over the headlight until you get the desired amount of clearing. Then wipe off the light with a clean rag until dry. This is how the light should appear. Looking much better now!
Using the foam polishing disc provided in the kit, apply a quarter sized dab of the Synthetic Wax Protectant (also provided in the kit) to the pad and smear on the light without the drill on.
This will keep the wax from slinging everywhere. Then you begin polishing by turning the drill on. As you make more passes the light will become completely clear.
When you are happy with the result, wipe clean with a clean rag.
Then remove the tape and you are finished!
What do you think of our headlight restoration DIY? Do you think we found the best headlight restoration kit? We definitely think so!
Ready to clean other stuff around your home? We’ve got lots of cleaning posts here on the blog, and here are some of my favorites: