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How to Restore Your Headlights by Hand

How to remove yellowing from your headlight and restore it good as new

Difficulty: Moderate


Yellowing headlights can ruin the appearance of your car and negatively affect the light output at night, but with this tutorial we can get your headlights as good as new (if not better)! However, you must act quickly as yellowing can eventually put little cracks deep into your headlight, meaning you’ll have to buy a whole new, expensive headlight. It is possible to do this by hand, but it is a long and laborious process. If you want to save time and money, we strongly recommend using our Headlight Restoration Kit instead (click here for that tutorial). All products in this tutorial are listed at the bottom of the article.


Step 1: Sanding Your Headlights

This step can be skipped if you only have light yellowing on your headlight, but if your headlight has completely yellowed, this step is important. For the purpose of this article ‘P600/1200/2000’ is the equivalent of 600/1200/2000 grit.

Rinse your headlight and wipe it with a microfibre cloth to remove dirt, then drying it with a drying towel. Mask off the surrounding areas so you don’t damage the body panels. Put P600 sandpaper around a backing pad to ensure a uniform pressure. Spray water onto the headlight and the sandpaper, sand the headlight horizontally applying more water as needed until the water coming off the headlight turns from yellow to white. Wipe clean with a microfibre cloth.

Repeat this process using a P1200 sandpaper in a vertical motion to remove scratches from the previous sandpaper.

Repeat this once more using a P2000 sandpaper in a horizontal motion to remove vertical scratches.

Optionally, to save time on the next step, you may want to use p3000 paper instead of p2000 paper.


Step 2: Compounding and Polishing Your Headlight

Remove the tape and put your compound onto a microfibre cloth. Buff the compound onto your headlight in circular motions until you cover the entire area. Wipe the compound off with a microfibre cloth. You may need to repet the compounding process until you reach your desired finish.

After this, put some polish onto a microfibre cloth and apply in a circular motion over the entire headlight. Wipe this clean with a clean microfibre cloth to reveal the shine that you see on a brand-new headlight.


Step 3: Applying a Protective Coating

You can use a headlight coating for this step, but we suggest using an acrylic clear coat.

Reapply masking tape around the headlight. Spray the clear coat onto the headlight and leave it to dry for haze-less, restored headlights that will last.


Products Used In This Tutorial


Microfibre Cloth

Farecla Finishing Cloth (Pack of 3)


3M Microfibre Detailing Cloth


Drying Cloth

Meguiars Water Magnet Microfibre Drying Towel


Making Tape

Scotch 24mm x 50m Blue High Performance Masking Tape 3434, 36 rolls


Sand Paper

3M P600, 230mm x 280mm, Wetordry Sheet 734, Qty of 25 by Grove


3M P1200, 138mm x 230mm, Wetordry Sheet 314, Qty of 50 - by Grove


3M P2000, 138mm x 230mm, Wetordry Sheet 401Q, Qty of 50 - by Grove



Farecla G3 Professional Paint Renovator 500ml

Car Polish

Concept Infinity Super Nano Polish 1lt


Acrylic Clear Coat

Indasa Aerosol Clearcoat, 500ml