There are certain random things in the world that really annoy me.  One such thing is foggy headlights on cars.  Ask my wife.  Often while driving around or walking through a parking lot, I am liable to suddenly and without warning exclaim, “Those headlights on that car are SO cloudy and fogged up!  It looks terrible! The car looks like it has cataracts!”  There’s actually some truth to my diagnosis on foggy headlights because the dimmer headlights can cause lowered visibility while driving at night, much like how cataracts can obscure human vision.  Even if that were not the case though, it would do little to placate my utter disdain toward foggy headlights.

So you can imagine the consternation when one day I look at my car and realize…

Foggy Headlight

…it has CATARACTS!

Oh no!

Having a shop restore them would cost anywhere from $40-60.  Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit

 costs $25 on Amazon.  You know me, I’m too cheap for any of those things, especially since I don’t know if they actually work!  After a little digging around the Internet, I learned about a DIY trick to restore foggy headlights for (almost) free!

And it’s as easy as brushing your teeth.

Curing Cataracts with Toothpaste

The secret ingredient is toothpaste.  Not just any toothpaste will do though, apparently you need the kind that has “whitening action,” maybe to provide the necessary abrasion.  You could run down to your local store to pick up a tube of whitening toothpaste for a few dollars, or you might be able to score a free sample sometimes from your stay at a hotel.  You can probably guess where we got ours. 🙂


Notice the whitening action.

With our secret ingredient in hand, all that’s needed are some rags or paper towels.

The Procedure

  1. Smear some healthy dollops of toothpaste all over your headlights.
  2. Give it some abrasion with your rag or paper towel.  Put some elbow grease into it.  (It was therapeutic taking out my neurosis about foggy headlights out here.)
  3. Breathe deeply and enjoy the minty freshness wafting through the air.
  4. Rinse it off with some water and wipe it clean.
  5. Repeat if necessary.

Here’s a comparison of one completed headlight with one that wasn’t.

One Good One Bad

The one on the right is the one that’s cleaned up…in case you were wondering.

Here they are with both sides completed!


In this picture, my car is shouting, “I can see!”

The Moral of This Story

So what lessons can we take away from this experience?

  • Foggy headlights are ugly.  Really ugly.
  • Beware of using “whitening toothpaste” to brush your teeth.  It’s actually automotive grade grime remover.
  • Be a good Asian, swipe all the toothpaste and other hotel amenities during your next stay.  Someday you’ll be glad you did.
  • Oh yeah…and you can save some money by using toothpaste to restore your foggy headlights instead of paying someone else to do it or buying overpriced repackaged whitening toothpaste.