How To Defrost Headlights

Winter can make your vehicle's headlights work less efficiently than normal because of frost buildup. Now, you're wondering how you can defrost your car's headlights. We've researched and asked industry experts to get you the following answer.

Different DIY headlight defrosting techniques are available for you to use. Some approaches you may try are:

  1. Rub petroleum jelly
  2. Apply toothpaste
  3. Use olive oil
  4. Make a vinegar and baking soda paste
  5. Take advantage of a headlight restoration kit
  6. Scrub with sandpaper

Learning the details of these methods can help you to avoid making costly mistakes. So continue reading as we tackle these DIY solutions in greater detail.

DIY Methods To Make Headlights Clear Again


DIY methods to make headlights clear again, How To Defrost Headlights

Method #1: Rub Petroleum Jelly

Generally used for skincare, petroleum jelly is a mixture of different oils and waxes. Apart from its ability to heal skin issues, such as burns and wounds, you can also use it to defrost your car’s headlights.

You only need to dip a clean microfiber cloth in a small tub of petroleum jelly. Then, use that cloth to wipe the frost buildup on your headlights. As a bonus, this solution may also help remove light scratches on your vehicle.

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Method #2: Apply Toothpaste

A tube of toothpaste with breath strips

In particular, you should use non-gel toothpaste with peroxide for this technique to work. You’ll also need a small amount of baking soda.

Mix the two ingredients in a small bowl or container. Next, dip a clean microfiber cloth or towel into that mixture. Wipe your frosted headlights with this solution with that fabric to help remove the ice buildup.

Warning: Baking soda is an abrasive. So rubbing it on scratches in your headlights may worsen these imperfections.

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Method #3: Use Olive Oil

Although used typically used for cooking, olive oil can also aid in defrosting different surfaces, including your vehicle’s headlights.

To use this method, pour a small amount of olive oil onto a clean microfiber cloth or towel. Then, rub your headlights with that material.

An alternate solution would be to use an olive oil spray. However, the oil may come into contact with other surfaces, which might become difficult to remove. Don't forget to rinse the headlights with warm or room-temperature water to help remove the greasiness left behind by the oil.

Note: Olive oil is flammable. But it normally won’t ignite until it reaches a temperature level of about 410 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Method #4: Make a Vinegar And Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda with white vinegar

Mixing vinegar and baking soda can create an effective cleaner and defroster. Vinegar’s acidic properties can help break down the baking soda. Once mixed with other substances, such as dirt, grime, and ice, those elements collapse, resulting in a clean surface.

Take advantage of this technique by mixing 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts baking soda in a small container. Dip a microfiber cloth or towel in that mixture and wipe your frosted headlights with it. Rinse the headlights with lukewarm water afterward to remove any residue.

Warning: Again, baking soda is an abrasive. Only apply gentle pressure to your headlights with the microfiber cloth to avoid scratching those surfaces.

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Method #5: Take Advantage Of A Headlight Restoration Kit

Headlight restoration kits often come as a complete set of products to help restore your car's headlights' transparency. Bear in mind that different options exist on the market, which might mean that some products may work better than others in defrosting your headlights.

So read the restoration kit’s label or product description first before finalizing your purchase. Also, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you’re getting the most out of that product.

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Method #6: Scrub With Sandpaper

If you're dealing with heavy frost buildup, you may need to use 1,500- to 2,000-grit sandpaper to remove the ice. But don’t apply the sandpaper onto the headlights directly. Instead, wet the material first before using it to scrub the ice off of the headlights’ lenses.

Be wary as sandpaper can harm the headlights and other nearby surfaces if you apply significant pressure to that material. So you should apply as little pressure as possible that can help defrost the headlights but without the added risk of damaging them.

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Does WD-40 Defrost Headlights?

WD-40 canisters on the supermarket shelves

Aside from the solutions already mentioned, you can also use WD-40 to help remove frost buildup on your car’s headlights. But it’s important to mention that it’s not the best solution for this issue.

Still, if you want to use this product to defrost your headlights, follow these steps:

Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Apply mild soapy water on your headlights to remove loose dirt and dust.
  2. Shake the can of WD-40 thoroughly.
  3. Apply the product to the headlights.
  4. Wipe the residue with a clean microfiber cloth or towel.

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Warning: Make sure not to allow WD-40 to latch onto your car’s metal parts. Otherwise, this product may increase oxidation, which may result in rust.

How Do You Keep Your Headlights From Frosting Up?

Car headlight under snow

Preventing your headlights from acquiring frost buildup might be a better solution than applying temporary fixes. For instance, you may clean the headlights’ lenses with antifreeze. Another possible solution is to apply cooking spray to those surfaces.

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How To Replace Headlight Bulb?

You can replace your car’s built-in headlight bulb with an LED to help reduce and prevent frost buildup on the lenses. But check with your local and state government’s guidelines on the ideal brightness level for your LED headlight bulb. Failure to follow those laws may make you face expensive fines.

After purchasing an LED unit for your vehicle’s headlights, continue this process by following these general steps:

What You’ll Need

  • Panel remover
  • Screwdriver
  • Replacement LED headlight

Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Turn off the vehicle’s engine and engage its hand or parking brake.
  2. Allow the engine to cool before opening the hood.
  3. Find the headlight holder under the hood, which should be at the front of the car.
  4. Disconnect the wires attached to the old headlight bulb.
  5. Turn the old bulb to loosen it. Remove it from its socket afterward.
  6. Install the new bulb in the same location as the old unit. Then, turn it to secure it.
  7. Connect the headlight’s wires to the new LED headlight bulb.
  8. Turn on your vehicle’s engine and test if the new headlights work as intended.

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Note: Some LED lights may not provide the necessary heat to deter frost buildup.

Take note that some vehicle models may require you to remove the headlight lenses for you to gain access to the bulbs. Also, watch the video below if you want to gain additional insights into this procedure:

Final Thoughts

Remember, you can use different products and techniques to help defrost your car's headlights. Some examples include applying baking soda, vinegar, and a headlight restoration kit. You can also replace the headlight’s bulb if this problem reoccurs frequently.

If you want to know how to defrost other objects, check out these other great reads:

How To Defrost Hollandaise Sauce

How To Defrost Honey?

Justin Jason
Justin Jason
Articles: 15

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