Detailing Headlight Restoration: Toothpaste vs. Polish

Discussion in 'Detailing & Cleaning' started by DeviateDefiant, Saturday 5th Apr, 2014.

  1. DeviateDefiant Co-Founder Staff Team

    United Kingdom Leo Northants
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    This isn't performed on a Honda, but I thought it was good reference nonetheless. Call this a mythbusters, I've used toothpaste in the past out of curiosity, and it worked quite well for me, perhaps a bit better than below, and I've even advocated it on the forum before as a quick solution. Spotted this earlier elsewhere on the web and thought I'd share.

    For the record, headlight restoration kits tend to contain an abrasive polish as used below and some abrasive surface like a sanding stone, I personally use Meguiars PlastX (and 2500 grit sandpaper if needed). Why pay more for less?

    Full frontal shot
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    Here's the headlight we are going to be working on.
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    Left side will be toothpaste, right side polishing.
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    The toothpaste used for the experiment.
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    Getting started.
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    50/50 (toothpaste/"original")
    93Ipiy8.

    50/50 (toothpaste/"original")
    qRVv4Y4.

    50/50 (toothpaste/"original") Details
    xWfsRfT.

    50/50 (toothpaste/"original") Details
    3ed9O5k.

    50/50 (toothpaste/"original") Details
    5kV6BrB.

    Not as clear as I like...
    ENT20v0.

    50/50 (toothpaste/tape line/polishing)
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    Toothpaste side details
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    Polishing side details
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    Fully polished...way better.
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    Moral of the story; it pays to do a job properly.
     
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  2. Nels Moderator Staff Team

    Couldn't agree more.
    Do it once. Do it wright. :Grin:
     
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  3. AndyB1976 Valued Contributor ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

    United Kingdom Andy Aberfoyle
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  4. DeviateDefiant Co-Founder Staff Team

    United Kingdom Leo Northants
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    I'm yet to actually seal mine properly after sorting out headlights, still looking for the right compound.
     
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  5. AndyB1976 Valued Contributor ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

    United Kingdom Andy Aberfoyle
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    I bought Turtle Wax Platinum Extra Gloss initially to seal it...now seems hard to find/buy however can't say either way if it was a good choice or not.

    So I tried that ICE Paste and that seems alright, I coat them maybe twice a year with that as I don't see it as a 'do once and forget about it'.

    This was my first attempt about 2yrs ago, they have cleaned up better again. I'll retake the shot next time I wash it.

    lightscopy.
     
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  6. DeviateDefiant Co-Founder Staff Team

    United Kingdom Leo Northants
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    Not bad results, I'm going to try take mine to crystal clear if I'm able to. Definitely want to stay on-top of it as they're far easier to clean up every couple of months than having to spent a lot of time/elbow grease trying to restore them again.

    I might try Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealent as I've had it in my Amazon basket for months and want it for detailing anyway,
     
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  7. AndyB1976 Valued Contributor ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

    United Kingdom Andy Aberfoyle
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    Like you I didn't want to buy a 'one-time use' pack so I went for the products above but avoided sandpaper (and used rubbing compound so more work for me)

    So I bought this pad for the cordless drill, but life is much easier if your drill has a side handle on it as it makes it more stable and controllable. I only used the blue sponge to work the rubbing compound, and the wool-type pad for buffing, I didn't use the supplied sandpaper at all. I probably spent about £30 all in, but have multiple uses from the chemicals and buffing kit.

    I should say that pad is about the size of a CD, if anything its a little too big if I was being picky.


    Silverline Power Drill Sanding And Polishing Kit: Amazon.co.uk: DIY & Tools
    41ij66ublSL.
     
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  8. DeviateDefiant Co-Founder Staff Team

    United Kingdom Leo Northants
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    Well I have an orbital already with pretty much the same selection of pads as you put above (it's Silverline), I reckon I'll try that first then before mucking around with sandpaper. It's a lot of work restoring the surface properly.

    The orbital is too cumbersome to do the sanding work on the headlights with anyway, just scratches up the surface too much as the weight makes it hard to do precision work with and get that finite control. So I guess polishing pad it is.

    I'll try straight PlastX and then the sealer I mentioned, though I am buying some new sealant hybrid wax to try on the bodywork so that might be worth a shot too.
     
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  9. AndyB1976 Valued Contributor ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

    United Kingdom Andy Aberfoyle
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    Yeah...I avoided the sandpaper because I didn't want to create a problem, rather than fix one lol. Although if the grit/grade is started off not too coarse and progressively reduced to the finest then its probably more efficient that way.

    To be honest, I watched some restoring vids on Youtube and they made it out like a 10min job, I was probably there about an hour, I masked off around the bumper, wing and bonnet aswell. If you do it with the drill pad and your bonnet up you'll probably find it flicks excess rubbing compounds/chemicals into the engine bay and over the engine, hoses and pipes - its not a worry just a bit messy, more so with rubbing compound and that seemed to become more like a powdery/chalky residue.
     
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  10. DeviateDefiant Co-Founder Staff Team

    United Kingdom Leo Northants
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    Oh yes, I've been there with trying to mask everything off and use an orbital - the PlasX sprayed everywhere, white splodges all over the engine bay. I'll definitely be just pulling out the headlights if I need to do as much work as I did before restoring the lights.

    I'm hoping on the new car it doesn't take that much to get them perfect.
     
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