How to Clean Headlights with WD40: Restoring Clarity and Shine

By Jed Lehman •  Updated: 05/10/23 •  3 min read

Over time, headlights can become dull, foggy, or yellowed due to exposure to the elements, UV rays, and environmental contaminants. This not only affects the appearance of your vehicle but also reduces the effectiveness of the headlights, compromising visibility during nighttime driving. While there are various methods to restore headlights, one popular and cost-effective option is using WD40. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to clean headlights with WD40, helping you regain clarity and shine.

Materials Needed

Before you begin the headlight cleaning process, gather the following materials:

  1. WD-40 Multi-Use Product (original formula)
  2. Microfiber cloth
  3. Masking tape
  4. Water
  5. Soap or automotive cleaner
  6. Bucket
  7. Sandpaper (grits 1000 and 2000)
  8. Water-based clear coat (optional)

Step 1: Preparation

To start, gather all the materials and ensure that your vehicle is parked in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight. Cleaning headlights with WD40 can involve some minor disassembly, so consult your vehicle’s manual if necessary. Additionally, check local regulations regarding the use of WD40 or similar products.

Step 2: Masking and Cleaning

Use masking tape to cover the surrounding areas of the headlights, including the car’s paintwork and any nearby plastic trims. This will protect them from accidental scratches during the cleaning process. Next, mix water with a small amount of soap or automotive cleaner in a bucket to create a cleaning solution. Dip the microfiber cloth into the solution, wring it out, and gently clean the headlights to remove any surface dirt or grime.

Step 3: Applying WD40

Spray a generous amount of WD40 directly onto the microfiber cloth. Make sure to use the original formula of WD40, as other variants may have different compositions that might not be suitable for headlight cleaning. With the saturated cloth, rub the WD40 onto the headlight surface in circular motions. Apply firm but gentle pressure to ensure the WD40 reaches the surface evenly.

Step 4: Buffing and Wiping

After applying WD40, use a clean section of the microfiber cloth to buff the headlight surface. Continue rubbing in circular motions until the haze and oxidation start to lift. As you buff, you may notice the cloth becoming discolored, indicating the removal of grime and debris. Once the headlight starts to regain its clarity, switch to a clean microfiber cloth and wipe away any excess WD40 residue.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

At this stage, the headlights should already appear significantly clearer. However, if there are still stubborn stains or scratches, you can use sandpaper to further restore the surface. Wet the headlight with water and then proceed to sand in a back-and-forth motion using the 1000-grit sandpaper. Rinse the headlight and repeat the process with the 2000-grit sandpaper, keeping the surface wet at all times. Finally, rinse the headlight once more and wipe it dry with a clean cloth.

Optional Step: Clear Coat Application

To provide long-lasting protection and enhance the headlight’s appearance, you can apply a water-based clear coat. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply the clear coat evenly to the headlight surface. Allow it to dry thoroughly before removing the masking tape.


Cleaning headlights with WD40 is a straightforward and effective method to restore clarity and shine to your vehicle’s headlights. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily achieve remarkable results. Remember to always exercise caution and follow safety guidelines when working with any automotive cleaning products or tools. Regular maintenance and cleaning of your headlights will not only improve the aesthetic appeal of your vehicle but also ensure optimal visibility for safer driving. With the help of WD40 and a little effort, you can enjoy crystal-clear headlights once again.

Jed Lehman

Jed Lehman is a born gearhead who has been working on cars since he could crawl. He inherited his love for auto from his grandfather who owned a maintenance shop in Carlsbad, California. Jed is the driver behind Gearshift, and started this site to provide straightforward, helpful automobile information. From maintenance tips to product reviews, you can find it all here.