How to Clean a Bike Headlight

Visibility is one of the most critical aspects of bike riding.

How to Clean a Bike Headlight

According to reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,  a large percentage of fatal accidents that involve bicycles happen because car and truck drivers failed to see the cyclist due to low-light or dark conditions.   One of the best ways to remain visible is to have a clean bike light that will not only illuminate the roadway or bike path for you, but that will also help you be more visible to others..

The law dictates,  in many places in the United States,  that all bike riders maintain a steady white or flashing light on their bikes that is clearly visible for at least 650 feet, both in front of and behind the rear of the bike.

With credit to  LED technology, the range  and brightness of bike lights has increased exponentially over the last decade.   When someone rides his or her bike where there are no streetlights around, such as on country roads, the light should be bright enough to illuminate any animals, potholes or other things that could cause an accident to occur.

Bike lights can be picked up at relatively low prices, but still do the job they were intended to do.  However, unless the lens of the light is clean and clear, the light will be ineffective.

A clean bike headlight will alert other riders and cars of your presence.  Therefore, it is essential to understand how to clean a bike headlight effectively.

Buy a waterproof bike light

One of the first considerations is to purchase a bicycle light that is waterproof.  Most of the ones that have an aluminum or aluminum alloy outer case are completely waterproof.

Some of these types of bike lights include:

  • The Bontrager Ion Pro RT
  • The Gemini Titan 4000
  • The Lezyne Hecto Drive 500 XL
  • The Blackburn Dayblazer 800
  • The Exposure Strata 1200

Plastic headlights

The majority of bike lights have a high density glass lens.  Some of the less expensive or vintage models are made from plastic. How to clean a bike headlight depends on the material, because different methods of cleaning are used for different types of bike light lens covers.

If you want to know how to clean a bike headlight lens that is made of plastic, start with a common household glass cleaner, such as Windex.  Spray a little on the lens and wipe it clean with a soft cloth.   Repeat the process until all unwanted residue has been removed.  The key to maintaining a clean plastic lens is the application of a sealer as soon as it is clean.  U/V protect clear coat works very well for this purpose.

Methods for Cleaning Bike Lights

The following methods are good for cleaning bike lights as well as other types of lights, such as those found on motorcycles and cars:

Baking Soda and toothpaste method

This method shows how to clean a bike headlight using ordinary kitchen ingredients.

Because the soda contains a very mild abrasive, the combination not only cleans very well.  It also removes a microscopic layer of fog that may appear on the surface of the lens without scratching or otherwise harming it.

The process begins with a tube of opaque(rather than gel) toothpaste. The toothpaste can be purchased with baking soda already in it, or, if it does not contain baking soda, a small amount of toothpaste can be placed on a cloth and periodically dipped into a small amount of baking soda.Each method works equally well.

Using a circular motion, apply a small amount of the toothpaste mixture with the toothbrush to the outside of the lens.  Keep the mixture moving with the toothbrush until the mixture appears to be dirty or otherwise discolored.   When this part of the process occurs, the toothpaste should be left to air dry.

Once the toothpaste mixture has thoroughly dried, it should be gently removed with a washcloth and warm water.  It is best to go over it a few times to assure that no toothpaste residue is left.


This method uses the  popular household and automotive item, Wd40.  Wd40 is known for being effective as a household and automotive lubricant, a rust preventer and moisture barrier.  Cleaning a bike headlight using this method is fast, easy and effective.  However, it should be noted that this product is flammable, so appropriate precautions should be taken prior to using it.

To clean a bike headlight using Wd40, remove all residual dust from the lens’ surface with a soft cloth or damp paper towel.  Then dry the excess moisture.  Next, spritz a quarter-sized amount of Wd40 on a paper towel and gently rub it onto the bike headlight using circular motions.  Any fogginess should immediately clear up.  At this point, remove any access Wd40, followed by a good buff with a clean, soft  polishing cloth.


Simple vinegar is an excellent cleaning solution for how to clean a bike headlight.  If the grime buildup and fog on the bike headlight is particularly bad, white vinegar is recommended.  This type of vinegar typically comes from acetic acid that was produced in a lab, combined with water, and is the strongest, most acetic type of vinegar.  This makes it a potent cleanser , but it can also be too strong, in some cases.  If the degree of grime isn’t too bad, dilute the white vinegar with water or, better yet, use natural apple cider vinegar, which is milder, yet still acidic enough to do a good job.

To clean a bike headlight with vinegar, either spritz a small amount directly onto the headlight, or apply it to a damp cloth and rub very gently until the residue has been removed. Follow with one or two rounds of spritzing the area with clean, clear water, and then polishing with a soft cloth until the lens is clean and clear.  The smell from the vinegar will disappear as soon as the area has dried.