Friday, December 8, 2023


De-fog your headlights with bug spray? Maybe not!

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

We get a lot of interesting suggestions from readers. One of them offered up hope for defogging headlights. We’ve personally used clearing kits purchased at the auto parts stores – the kind where you use an electric drill to buff out the headlights. Those work great – if you don’t mind spending $20 or more, only to turn around and find your headlights fogged up again in a few months. So when we got the latest suggestion, we were intrigued.

headlight-737The suggestion was to spray your plastic headlights with inspect spray containing a high concentrations of Deet. Yeah, a shot of Deet, followed by a wipe down with a rag or paper towel, and Hey, Presto! your headlights are cleared up again. Is it really so?

Yes and no. The “Deetreatment” does tend to clear the foggy headlights. How does it work? Apparently the chemicals in the bug spray actually melt the plastic in the headlights. Well and good, but here’s the drawback: Not only does the fog return, at the same time, you run a serious risk of damaging your rig. If the bug spray leaks down onto your rig’s paint job, it will chew up the clear coat, the top finish that keeps the paint bright and shiny. In a similar vein, the bug spray may well damage the seals that keep water from getting in your headlight units.

But here’s another way to clear up your foggy headlights, inexpensively: Toothpaste. Yep, chopper cleaner, particularly that which has abrasives (like baking soda) will remove the yellowing. It’s inexpensive, and probably lasts as long as spraying them with bug spray, but without the danger involved.

So, get yourself a tube of toothpaste, squirt a goodly amount on your fingers, and smear the stuff around the headlight. Now, use a tooth brush to scrub, scrub, scrub the entire headlight down. If there doesn’t seem to be enough grit in your paste, then you can add a bit of your own baking soda to the mix. Spray the mess of the headlight with water, and if they look good, great! Or, if you want them clearer, try another coat of paste and another round of brushing. No, you don’t have to worry about “Up and down” motions only – circular might even be better.

Once the headlights are clean to your satisfaction, or as clean as you can get them, apply a dab of car wax and buff it well with a clean, soft rag. When dry, remove the excess with a shot of water and a clean rag rubdown. This well help seal the headlights, and perhaps, make them a bit more resistant to the power of UV radiation.

Yes, you will find you’ll eventually have to repeat the performance, but when you do, you can whistle your way through the old tune, “You wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.”




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