How to Use a Lemon and Baking Soda to Clean Your Car’s Headlights

You may have noticed that your car’s headlights tend to get dirty and cloudy over time. This happens due to the oxidation and dirt that accumulates on the headlight lens over time, eventually causing a layer of cloudiness. You can use toothpaste to clear them or, if you don’t mind spending a little more money, then you can have them professionally treated. Either of those methods would work just fine, but I found another method that works as well and it involves using a lemon and baking soda.

There are two different methods when using lemon and baking soda on your headlights

Here are the tools that you need: A lemon, a bowl, and baking soda
Here are the tools that you need: A lemon, a bowl, and baking soda | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Before getting started, you’ll need to gather up a couple of tools from your kitchen:

  • Baking soda
  • A lemon cut in half
  • A small bowl
  • Water
  • Microfiber towel
Here is what the headlight on my 2008 Honda S2000 looked like before the cleaning. You can see a little haze accumulated on it.
Here is what the headlight on my 2008 Honda S2000 looked like before the cleaning. You can see a little haze accumulated on it. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

RELATED: Can Toothpaste Really Fix Your Yellowed Headlights?

You can also use eye protection if you want to be extra careful, but it’s really unnecessary. After gathering up your tools for the job, head out to your car, prepare the lemon and baking soda mixture, and apply it. There are two different ways to do this:

The pre-mix method

  • Pour a small amount of baking soda into the bowl
  • Squeeze half of the lemon into the baking soda
  • Stir until you get a paste
  • Apply the paste to the headlight and wait a few minutes
  • Rinse the headlight off with the water
  • Dry the headlight with a microfiber towel

The direct method

  • Pour a small amount of baking soda into the bowl
  • Take half of the lemon and dip it into the baking soda. Squeeze the lemon while you do this so that the baking soda sticks.
  • Apply the soda-coated lemon to each headlight with gentle force
  • Go over the entire headlight in a circular motion
  • Rinse off the headlight and surrounding area with water
  • Dry the area with a microfiber towel

Does this method really work?

Cleaning the S2000's headlight with a lemon dipped in baking soda.
Cleaning the S2000’s headlight with a lemon dipped in baking soda. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

I tried this method on my 2008 Honda S2000’s headlights to see if it would actually work. Admittedly, my car’s headlights weren’t too foggy, but if you look closely in the pictures, you’ll see a little bit of a haze. Of course, it would have been better to try it on a car with really foggy headlights, but I figured my neighbor wouldn’t like it if she saw me messing with her car; a lemon in one hand and a bowl in the other.

Alas, my S2000 was my guinea pig and surprisingly, I think the experiment was a success. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but the headlight did look clearer in person than when I started. In fact, during the process, I could even see the headlight clearing up. Overall, the whole process took around five minutes.

Your results may vary

An "after" shot of the process. The headlight looks much clearer now.
An “after” shot of the process. The headlight looks much clearer now. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

One disclaimer I would like to mention is that your results may vary when using this method. Not because the lemon and baking soda mixture doesn’t work, it’s more due to the fact that some cars’ headlights are far worse than others. Keep in mind that the yellowing and cloudiness occur largely due to the acrylic headlight lens being exposed to UV rays for years, so some headlights may need to be wet sanded and clear coated to be restored.

The simple method outlined here is mainly effective on headlights with a low to moderate cloudiness and it’s NOT a permanent fix. Even after clearing them up, your car’s headlights will eventually get cloudy again over time. But if you repeat this process once a month, then you may be able to combat it.

While methods like using toothpaste or seeking professional help can do wonders for your cloudy headlights, the baking soda and lemon method works just fine, too. Try it at your own risk.

RELATED: Driving With Cloudy Headlights Is More Dangerous Than You Think