Wet Sanding Headlight Cleaning

As we aforementioned in our previous blog post about headlight cleaning, this is a laborious, time consuming, but more surefire method of removing that headlight fog.

Word of warning, you may be uncomfortable performing some of the steps in the process. Please thoroughly read all steps before purchasing any of the required products or starting the process.

What you will need:

  • low/no lint paper towels
  • Scissors
  • plastic sheets or bags
  • painters’ tape
  • 400 grit sandpaper
  • 600 grit sandpaper
  • 2000 or 3000 grit sandpaper
  • rubbing alcohol
  • spray bottle of warm water
  • spray UV protection clear gloss coat
  • carnauba paste wax

*We recommend doing this inside a well-ventilated space or on a day with NO wind, pollen, or dust. *

Step 1

Tape off headlight using painters’ tape. Make sure the seal between the paint and the headlight is tight, you don’t want to damage the clear coat.

Step 2

Wet the 400 grit sandpaper and the headlight lens; make sure the lens and sandpaper are always wet. Using the wet sandpaper and very light pressure, sand the lens in a large circular pattern. Constantly spray with water throughout the process.

After a minute or so, change your pattern of motion to left and right horizontally, keep pressure very light. Continue to spray with water. Stop again after a minute or so. Spray with water and wipe headlight off.

Cloudy residue and mild scratches are expected. Do not freak out.

Step 3

Using the same process as in Step 2, repeat using 600 grit with slightly more pressure. Spray with water throughout.

Step 4

Like Steps 2 and 3, repeat with 2000 or 3000 grit sandpaper with very light pressure. Continuously spray with water and be sure to sand all areas of the lens. Spray and wipe dry.

Lens will look hazy, but don’t worry we’re not done.

Step 5

Using your low/no lint paper towels, wipe headlight with rubbing alcohol. This removes natural oils from the lens.

Step 6

Cover the surrounding area of the vehicle with plastic sheets or bags and tape down. Using scissors, cut out to reveal headlight and tape off. Alternatively, simply tape down plastic around the headlight. This is to protect your vehicle’s paint.

Step 7

Repeat Step 5 for one final cleanse.

Step 8

Spray clear coat. If you are uncomfortable with this step, practice a few times to obtain a sense of the pressure and amount that is sprayed. Watching a few YouTube videos may help to get a proper technique.

As with spray painting, start spraying off the object, quickly carrying over the lens one stroke at a time. Hold can several inches away from the lens. DO NOT SPRAY A HEAVY LAYER. This is a very light application.

If you encounter air bubbles, poke with a needle or use a gentle heat gun in short, distanced bursts. Warning, heat gun may produce fumes from gloss and possibly speed up or slow down drying process depending on the type of gloss spray. Try a needle first.

Allow the coat to dry for 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 9

Repeat Step 8 for two more coats, allow dry before each application.

Step 10

Once clear gloss coat is dry, apply a layer of carnauba paste to the lens. Allow it to almost dry and buff.

You Are Done

That’s about it. Hopefully, your headlight is significantly clearer, and you are satisfied with the results. Remember, this is not a process to rush nor cut corners with. Doing so will result in subpar results. If you are a visual person, like me, there are some decent tutorial videos out there that may be helpful.

Good luck and happy adventures!


Author: B. Delamater



We provide windshield repair and replacement service to most of Yavapai County including the great Prescott & Prescott Valley area as well as the Verde Valley, Sedona, and much more! More questions? Give us a call, we’re happy to help!

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