How To

Headlight Restoration Guide

Comparing the DIY methods of refreshing dull or yellowed headlights.

As the days become shorter, the use of headlights to properly light up the road becomes critical.

In this guide we will compare using a Restoration Kit from Canadian Tire vs Toothpaste vs Baking Soda. These inexpensive techniques may save a few bucks with a little elbow grease and the judicious use of hand held drill to remove oxidization, scratches, and yellowing on the lamp covers.

OEM Headlamp replacement is a costly endeavor, even cutting corners with third party or “wrecker” parts. DIY reconditioning is viable before heading off for “Professional” help for your daily driver.


Tools & Materials

Window Cleaner, 2500 Grit Wet/Dry Sandpaper, Paper Towels, Spray Bottle, Electric Drill, Buffing Pad with Drill Adapter, Painters Masking Tape, Headlight Restoration Kit or Baking Soda or Toothpaste



Mask off headlamps with painters tape to protect bumper, fender, and hood.

Spray window cleaner on headlights to remove bugs and dirt; dry thoroughly to remove any residue

Mix a table spoon of baking soda with a few parts of water to make a paste.

Headlight Restoration Guide

The Process

Remove any surface imperfections by wet sanding both headlamps in a light circular motion using the extra fine 2500 grit sandpaper. The sandpaper will dislodge the yellowed plastic into a creamy paste. Remove with a dry cloth and respray with window cleaner again.

Headlight Restoration Guide


Method 1 (Toothpaste and Baking Soda)

Apply a coating of toothpaste to one side of a headlight and the baking soda mixture to the other. Gently rub with a clean dry cloth or paper towel till the residue has disappeared.

Headlight Restoration Guide


Method 2 (Headlight restoration kit)

Apply a small amount of polishing paste (size of a nickel) to the second headlamp. Using the buffing pad attached to the electric drill, buff till it vanishes.

Headlight Restoration Guide



Besides being messy, the toothpaste & baking soda method both yielded similar results. The applied pastes acted as a mild abrasive without leaving any swirl marks. The resulting finish of both paled slightly in comparison to the store bought product. I suspect that the buffing compound contains some form of wax or clear coat that gives the finish an extra sparkle.

Surprisingly, method 1 seemed a little duller despite being more labour intensive. I preferred that brilliance of the Polishing Compound, and quickly touched up the DIY pasted lamp to match. Any excuse to break out the power tools is also a winner in my book, and brings the neighbour peaking over the fence with advice.

I’ve always seemed to over drive my headlamps on those dark country roads with regular beams, and now those high beams work wonders. The distant road signs in the picture below are 1.2 Kms away, not too shabby for a 15 year-old Honda with stock Halogen headlight bulbs.

20 minutes of time well spent!

Headlight Restoration Guide

Transport Canada Sets New Standard to Keep Cars Illuminated at Night

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