How to Choose Sandpaper for Headlights?

Restoring my headlights if they get messy is something that I prioritize a lot. Since a cloudy or hazy headlight is dangerous, I cannot take the risk of leaving them as is. I know how dangerous it is to use such headlights on a dark or rainy road. Not to mention, my friend’s vehicle once failed the state inspection only because he forgot to restore his headlights.

I always solve this issue by applying sandpapers on my headlamps. However, I need to pick their grit levels carefully to avoid damaging my lenses. The process usually requires me to use from 800 to 3000 grit sandpapers on different levels of messiness.

My friends and I tested many sandpapers on the market in our recent research of trying many ways to clean headlight surfaces. We have found some excellent items and made a list of the best sandpapers for headlights. I am glad to share it with you.

My Choice Of Sandpapers for Headlights

1. 3M Auto Wet Or Dry Sandpaper

3M Auto Wet Or Dry Sandpaper

Very fine grade abrasive delivers refined finishes to auto clear coats

Pros

  • You get several grits of high-quality sandpapers in a pack.
  • The paper has Trizact tech to cut through touch layers quickly.
  • It is easy to attach them to a sanding block because of the foam backings.
  • They can effectively remove scratches off the headlight surface.

Cons

  • 3M used P-scaling on the grits, which isn’t in accordance with the CAMi scaling that the USA follows. So, it can lead to confusion among many buyers.

3M is the leading company in manufacturing automotive sandpapers and protective films. Their Auto Wet Or Dry Sandpapers are items that can potentially stop your search. Honestly, we wouldn’t try any other product if not for the sake of this list.

The pack contains assorted grits, meaning that we wouldn’t need to go for new sandpaper products for every different grit level. You get 1000, 1500, 2000, and 2500 grits in the package. Each of them has a size of 3.67×9” in size, which is easy to hold and sand. You can also cut them into pieces for your need.

So, how effective are these sandpapers? I could get rid of layers of stubborn dust and paint coats from the headlight surfaces. These are perfect items to apply before you polish the headlamp lenses. 3M used Trizact technology that ensures stable cuts quickly.

Since there were foam backings on the sandpapers, they made it easier for me to attach them to sanding blocks. But it was also flexible enough to use by hand with ease. After sanding with these items, we noticed that the scratches were gone too. So, there were no necessities to compound the surfaces anymore.

Make sure that the sheets are wet when you use them. I did it because it not only keeps the sheets intact for a long time but also moves the dust better.

I should mention that there are other variations of the product with only one grit type at a lower cost. Note that these grits are P-rated, which is the European scaling. In USA scaling (CAMi), their grits are 600, 800, and 1000.

2. 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System

3M Headlight Lens Restoration System

Kit contains disc holder for household drill, 3M Trizact sanding discs, compounding pad, and rubbing compound

Pros

  • The product comes with a complete restoration kit that contains everything you need.
  • Their result was spectacular. My friend’s headlight was shiny as new.
  • They are highly reliable and durable. These are tailored-made for headlights, after all.
  • It is low-cost for quality and easy to use.

Cons

  • The compound can peel after harsh weather conditions.

Another 3M product that caught our eyes is their headlight lens restoration system. It included everything I wanted for a headlights to shine. I tested it on my friend’s vehicle headlamps, and he thanked me for it.

While the package may look small, we found 6-discs of P500 gold for sanding, P800 white for finishing, and TrizactTM P3000 gray for refining each inside. They excel at removing all mess types off headlight surfaces as they did on my friend’s one.

Aside from these, there was a disc pad holder for the hook-and-loop system for holding the discs firmly. We could also attach it to a drill. 3M advises only using a 1200-1600 rpm drill with the holder.

There was a rubbing compound that left excellent results on the surfaces and cleared up all oxidization, yellowing, and fogginess. There are compound-pads to apply the compound evenly to the headlight. Buffing with it removed some scratches that appeared during the sanding process.

The best thing about it is that you get all of these at such a low cost. Not to mention, the whole process is so easy that anyone with no experience can do it. 3M has given a long paragraph about how these items work. So, we won’t bother you with these factors. We do suggest checking it out, though.

The item is not flawless. Unfortunately, the compound is not durable enough and can peel off after heavy rain or intense car washes several times.

Before I forget to mention, there was also a masking tape and wax protectant in the package. 3M really put a lot of thought into their products to ensure the best experience for their customers.

3. FRIMOONY Wet Dry Sandpaper

FRIMOONY Wet Dry Sandpaper

9 sheets of each grit: 1000/ 1200/ 1500/ 2000/ 2500/ 3000, 54 sheets in total.

Pros

  • There are 54 sheets of sandpapers in total.
  • Their Micro-Nano sand planting tech keeps the sand on the papers even in harsh conditions.
  • They have the grit numbers on the rear for identification. You can also cut them apart.
  • They have verities of uses.

Cons

  • Two or three wet sanding applications are enough for a sheet to wear.

The Wet Dry Sandpapers from the FRIMOONY brand offers 54 sheets of paper for you with different grit levels. We received 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000, 2500, and 3000 grits of 9×3.6” in one package. Note that the product has another variation with 240-3000 grits at a slightly higher price.

All the grits mentioned above are P-scaled, meaning that they follow the standard scaling in the USA. There are 9-pieces of sheets for each grit level. We cut some of them to test their effectiveness, and it went well.

In order to increase the resistance against tear and prevent the sand from falling off, FRIMOONY used their unique Micro-Nano sand planting technology. Now, our testing confirmed the effectiveness of this tech.

Their silicone carbide bodies with electro-coating are similar to the following product on our list. It increases the safety of the wet sanding process.

Because of the involvement of water in headlight sanding, these sandpapers have somewhat decent water resistance and can be used wet or dry. They cannot tackle more than three wet sandings. I loved how the manufacturers added the grit number on the back of each sheet for the users to identify them.

Aside from vehicle headlights, you can also apply them on wood, plastic, metal, glass, etc. But you must make sure to use the right grit on the right surface or condition.

4. Appex Wet Dry Sandpaper

Appex Wet Dry Sandpaper

comes with 3 sheets of each grit in 120/ 150/ 180/ 240/ 320/ 400/ 600/ 800/ 1000/ 1200/ 1500/ 2000/ 2500/ 3000 totaling 42 sheets

Pros

  • The silicon carbide on their body has electro-resistance for safer use.
  • You get three pieces of each grit level from 120 to 3000.
  • It is possible to apply them on other surfaces like metal, wood, plastic, etc.

Cons

  • Contradictory to what the manufacturers say, these are pretty fragile. Too much wet sanding with them may cause them to tear apart.

If you want to get another product with a wide range of sandpaper grits, the Appex brand got you covered. We liked this product because of the 42 pieces of sheet with 120 to 3000 grits in the package. Each of them has a size of 9×3.6”, which was easy for me to use by hand.

Aside from headlight surfaces, you can use these sandpapers on other wooden furnishings and metal. It covers 120, 150, 180, 240, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000, 2500, and 3000 grits. There are three pieces of sand for each of these levels.

Appex used silicon carbide in the making of these sandpapers. If you were unaware, it is the best material for headlight surfaces. But additionally, they have electricity resistance, which made it safer for me to use them wet.

It is true that ‘one item handles them all’ type of products can be a turn off for many of our dear readers as we want them, especially for headlights. But actually, most sandpapers that are suitable for headlamps are also excellent for other surfaces.

5. POLIWELL CAR Headlight Restoration Kit

POLIWELL CAR Headlight Restoration Kit

Heavy Duty Lights Polish Headlights Lens Restore Cleaner DIY Polishing for Electric Drill

Pros

  • It’s a total restoration kit containing all the necessary items for our headlights.
  • The kit was able to effectively remove oxidization, fogginess, cloudiness, and yellowing off my headlight.
  • You can clean 8-lenses using a single pack.
  • I believe the easy step-by-step guide by the manufacturers will help you a lot in the application.

Cons

  • They cannot provide total shininess to the headlight surfaces. You may still notice a slight blurry coat.

I think many of our dear readers may be looking for a complete headlight restorer kit. Hence, my friends and I choose the POLIWELL Car Headlight Restoration Kit to test it out. The product contains all the items needed for a total cleaning, except the drill. Although, at that price range, we shouldn’t expect a drill.

There is a masking tape of 10m, two scouring pads of 800 grits, four sanding disks of 1000, 3000, 5000, 10000 each, a spray bottle in the package. We also got an interface pad, a sanding pad for backup, and a suede polishing cloth.

It is a lamp polishing kit, where you can use them with up to four lamps. POLIWELL has given easy steps and descriptions of the application on their product descriptions. So, we won’t bother you with them here.

You won’t need additional protectants while using these pads. We only use water, and it worked wonders. I had a really messy headlight with oxidization, yellowing, haziness, and scratches, and the kit successfully removed them all. However, unfortunately, the process couldn’t shine up the surface entirely. There was a blurry coat left that we needed to clean with additional products.

There are enough in this pack to restore around 8-lenses. Each item in the kit holds decent durability and long-lastingness. Overall, it is an excellent product that you should try out at least once.

6. HAWERK Professional Sandpaper

HAWERK Professional Sandpaper

Resistant Sand Paper Sheets for Wood, Plastic, Metal and All Types of Surfaces

Pros

  • You get a grit range from 80 to 3000 in this package.
  • The sandpapers have high water resistance.
  • They provide a high-quality finish on the surface of the headlights.

Cons

  • It is not a USA product, so the item may take a long time to deliver.

The HAWERK Professional Sandpaper can beat the Appex 42 Pcs Wet Dry Sandpaper in terms of the range of grit levels. While the latter offers 120-3000, the former has 80-3000 grits available in the package, one more level. The brand tried to give us all something to use on several applications.

When testing the sandpapers on our vehicle headlights, we found them quite durable. They do not wear or tear easily. Because of their 9×3.5” body shape, they were so easy for me to use. But if you need smaller sizes, feel free to cut them.

The surface of these sandpapers is coarse and fine simultaneously. You can wet them and apply them on headlights without worry. HAWERK added waterproof to the sheets for that reason. Their application process is simple as any other sanding procedure. Start with a low grit and move to higher.

Their high-quality grit levels ensure the removal of scratches and similar roughness. We also used them on our car’s varnishes afterward, and it was a fine experience.

7. Dura-Gold Premium 1000 Grit Wet or Dry Sandpaper Sheets

Dura-Gold Premium 1000 Grit Wet or Dry Sandpaper Sheets

These 1000 grit extra-fine-cut waterproof sandpaper sheets are ideal for use in auto body

Pros

  • The sandpapers come in 25-pieces of the same grit. So, if you want only one level for your application, this is the item to get.
  • It has high resistance to water, electricity, clogging, and loading of materials.
  • You can use the sandpapers with any sander type or block you want. It is aside from hand sanding, of course.

Cons

  • As we ordered multiple packages, one of them had the wrong grit than the label on the sticker and what we ordered. Check the sheets well before using them.

The 1000 grit sandpaper of the Dura-Grit is an excellent item to use for wet applications like headlight surfaces. There were many other grit levels available as different variations. So, we actually went and bought most of them for testing.

You get 25-sheets in each package. These sheets were a bit larger than the sandpapers we reviewed above. Their sizes are 9×5.5”. So, you can cut them perfectly in three equal pieces. While this is about headlights, we also tested them on wood, metal, automotive varnish, etc. They worked so well on all surfaces.

I wet them and even added soaps on the surfaces (Which is common in headlight sanding), and the overall result was better than my expectation. With the rubs of silicon carbides, the grits gave my headlights a smooth finishing that helped me with the polishing a lot.

Its surface is electro-coated to make wet applications safe. It is resistant to clogging and loading of the materials you are using. So, it decreases the material needs. Their sharp cuts last long and provide stable scratch patterns as you sand the surfaces.

While you can use them with different blocks or sanders, and other ways, using your hand is the best way here. Not just for this product, but hand sanding headlights is the best way to reach the tiny and cramped spaces with ease.

8. Miady 120 to 3000 Assorted Grit Sandpaper

Miady 120 to 3000 Assorted Grit Sandpaper

Made of waterproof silicon carbide, electro coated ensures the grit distributed homogeneously, good for wet and dry sanding.

Pros

  • The sandpapers are available with a higher-sized variation than the regular measurement.
  • Their latex paper bodies may not sound suitable for headlights, but they worked wonders.
  • We got a high-quality finish after using these sandpapers on our polycarbonate and glass headlights.

Cons

  • They still tear out rather quickly on wet sanding compared to 3M sheets.

We may sound biased when reviewing this, but the qualities of the Miady 120 to 3000 Assorted Grit Sandpaper were something astounding. For headlights, you will need from 800 to 3000 grits. But you will also get 120-600 as a bonus.

There are three pieces of sheets for each grit level. They have the regular 9×3.6” measurements. It has other variations with 400-3000 grits and the same size and 120-5000 grits with 9×11”.

So, what makes these sandpapers so outstanding? Their sands do not fall even after bending them entirely or performing excessive operations. Miady used latex paper on them, which I found more durable than I thought.

Their bodies have high waterproof. We literally used them with water and cleaning materials without them tearing apart. They wore out after a decent bit of sanding, which is understandable.

After using the sheets on my headlights, they actually turned shiny as new. The oxidization and fogginess were gone, and it was totally smooth and ready for polishing. We got the same quality outcome when applying them to wood and metal. It seems like Miady knows what they are doing.

9. AUSTOR 30 Pieces Wet and Dry Sandpaper

AUSTOR 30 Pieces Wet and Dry Sandpaper

Offer 2000, 3000, 5000, 7000 and 10000 grit sandpaper for you, 6 pieces for each grit

Pros

  • This unit has 30 pieces of the highest grits you can find.
  • They are perfectly fine for the wet sanding process as they provide satisfactory results.
  • Their nano sand planting tech allows the sand on the sheets to stay intact for a long time.

Cons

  • The sheets tear out after wet sanding a bit quicker. You can solve this issue by cutting them into tinier pieces.

For our readers who are looking for only the highest grits out there, we have added the AUSTOR 30 Pieces Wet and Dry Sandpaper. As its name suggests, there are 30-pieces of sheets in the package with 6-sheets for each grit. We measured their size to be 9×3.6”.

We found sheets of 2000, 3000, 5000, 7000, and 10000 grits in the pack, and they are the real deals. In fact, you should only take these for light-duty build-up on your headlights.

Their wet and dry applications made them suitable for headlight restoration type works. But do note that they actually tear out rather quickly, both during the dry and wet sanding process. So, we cut them down into smaller pieces before use.

We were really happy to find something like this at this price range. It really gives you the bang for the buck. We put the sandpapers on blocks and used hand sanding, and both went excellent.

As you can guess, these ones are also silicone carbide-made with nano sand planting features. Yes, its sands had the same technology as the FRIMOONY Wet Dry Sandpaper.

It is totally possible to sand other surfaces like wood, plastic, metal, stone, leather, etc., with the items. But usually, they are suitable for the final steps of sanding.

Size Matters for Sandpapers

How to Find Sandpapers for Headlights?

You do not want to lose your money on sandpapers that cannot survive for long or do not provide the expected results. Worse still, a low-grade sanding sheet can potentially ruin the surface of your headlamp, causing frustration.

I am adding the ways one should look for the best sandpapers for their headlights. Rest assured, as there aren’t many factors here. You only need to look at 4-5 points before going for the purchase. Also, I have excluded some obvious aspects like price, warranty, and customer reviews to save your valuable time.

Size Matters for Sandpapers

It is true that most sandpapers on the market come in the usual 9×3.6” size. But not all. We came across ones that were way larger or even smaller. Honestly, the standard measurement is the best as they are easy to hold and use your hand to sand. Although, you have the option of cutting them into pieces based on your needs.

Quantity

You may have noticed the sandpapers on our lists coming in different quantities. Their prices may vary depending on this factor. The thing here is that, whether there are 36, 42, 54, etc., total sheets, they have a number of sheets for each grit level.

So, check these matters and get one with as many sandpapers as you need for your applications. Some of them tear apart quickly and need more than usual to finish the work.

Grits

Grits are the indicator of the abrasiveness of the sandpaper. Lower grits mean higher coarse, while a higher grit level is finer. 80-gritted sandpapers have higher coarseness that they may not be that safe for headlights.

You can start with 120 grits. But most begin their restoration process with 400 grits as you don’t need a higher abrasiveness. As you remove the build-up messes, you can move to a higher grit for finer sanding. Many stops at 2000 grits, but you should go till 3000. Summarizing all we just said, you need at least 400 to 3000 gritted sheets in the package.

Durability

If the sandpapers do not last long during an application, it is not that high-grade. But unfortunately, most cannot pass this factor.

You need sheets that can handle wet-sanding, meaning it needs to be waterproof and electro-proof. They need to hold on for at least a decent bit during the procedure.

Look for silicon carbide for headlight restoration for their sharp grits. Note that wearing out is inevitable for the sheets. How long can it survive before reaching that point is the question. You can read customer reviews if you want to get an idea about it before purchasing the item.

Application

Our application is set here, headlight restoration. But you must ensure that it is easy to apply the sands to the surface. 9×3.6” sheets are usable with hands. But there are also the round pads.

They require drills, blocks, or sanders for you to apply them. Trust us when we say that manual sanding is the best here. It makes it easier to sand the cramped spaces or such that is hard with a drill.

You can also find complete restoration kits on the market. They are usually a quick and easy way to restore your headlights. Also, since they are tailored-made for headlamp lenses, you can rely on them more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What grit sandpaper should I use to remove oxidation from headlights?

The best sandpaper grits for removing oxidization off headlight surfaces range from 400 to 600. Continue using 800-1000 grit sandpapers, then 3000-5000 ones. We suggest using silicon carbide for its quality performance.

How Long Do Headlights with 1000 Grit Pads Last?

You can restore around 6-8 lenses using a single 1000 grit sandpaper. It highly falls on the durability and build-quality of the sheets. We have even come across ones that can only tackle 3-4 applications.

What Kind of Sandpapers Do You Use to Cut Through Polycarbonate?

The best sandpapers for polycarbonate are the silicone carbide ones. Their abrasiveness is so durable and sharp, achieving a pleasing outcome. Aside from that, we have found latex paper sheets pretty enduring too.

Can I use sandpaper on my headlights

Can I use sandpaper on my headlights?

There are a few different ways that you can go about cleaning your headlights, and sandpaper is one of them. You'll want to use very fine grit sandpaper so that you don't damage the headlight lens.

Start by wetting the headlight with some soapy water and then gently rubbing the sandpaper over the heads in a circular motion. Rinse off the headlight and repeat if necessary. Once you're finished, apply polish to help protect your headlights from future premature yellowing or fogging.

How do you sand your headlights?

Begin by cleaning the headlights with soap and water to remove any surface dirt or grime. Next, use coarse sandpaper (around 1000 grit) to wet sand the entire headlight. Be sure to keep the headlight wet while sanding it to prevent damage from the sandpaper.

After you have gone over the entire headlight with the coarse sandpaper, switch to finer sandpaper (around 2000 grit). Again, wet sand the headlights, moving in circular motions until you have achieved a smooth finish. Finally, use a polishing compound and cloth to buff out any residual scratches. Apply a UV protection film to your headlights if desired.

What grit sandpaper do I use to restore my headlights?

There are a few different grits of sandpaper that can be used to restore headlights, depending on the severity of the oxidation. For slight oxidation, 600-grit sandpaper can be used. For moderate oxidation, 400-grit sandpaper may be necessary. And for heavy oxidation, you'll want to use a coarser, such as 200-grit sandpaper. 

The process is relatively simple: just wet the headlight and sand in a circular motion until the haze disappears.

Be sure to change out the water regularly so that it doesn't dry out and cause premature wearing of the sandpaper. When you're finished, apply a liberal amount of Headlight Restoration Polish to protect

Can you use 120 grit sandpaper on headlights?

Yes, you can absolutely use 120 grit sandpaper on headlights! This will actually help to restore them to their original shine and clarity. Just be sure to use a very light hand and go slowly, as you don't want to scratch the surface of the headlight.

Once you're finished, simply buff them off with a clean cloth and voila - you'll have brand new looking headlights in no time!

Can I use 220 grit sandpaper on headlights?

220 grit sandpaper can be used on headlights, but it is not recommended. The higher the grit number of the sandpaper, the finer the abrasive particles are. Abrasive particles that are too fine can cause scratches in plastic surfaces. If you do choose to use 220 grit sandpaper on your headlights, be sure to use very gentle pressure and only polish in a circular motion.

Can I use 2000 grit sandpaper on my headlights?

Yes, you can use 2000 grit sandpaper on your headlights to remove any dirt, grime, or other debris that may be obscuring their light output. However, you'll need to take care not to sand too aggressively and create scratches or other damage to the headlight lens.

If possible, it's always best to consult the owner's manual for your specific vehicle to see if there are any special instructions for cleaning or polishing the headlights.

How many times can you sand a headlight

How many times can you sand a headlight?

Depending on the type of sandpaper and the condition of the headlight, it is possible to sand a headlight multiple times. However, after a certain point, the headlight will become too thin and will need to be replaced.

Can I use 1200 grit sandpaper on headlights?

In a word, no. While it is possible to polish headlights with some level of sandpaper (usually starting with a higher grit number and then working down to a finer grit), using 1200 grit is too coarse and will likely result in scratches that can't be polished out. It's best to stick with a less abrasive grit like 400 or 800 when polishing headlights.

What is silicon carbide sandpaper?

Silicon carbide sandpaper is a type of paper that is mostly used for sanding metal surfaces. It can be either hand-held or stationary. Silicon carbide sandpaper has the ability to cut through very hard materials, making it perfect for metalworking. 

 Silicon carbide sandpaper is made with a material called silicon carbide, which is a very sharp and extremely hard material. This makes it ideal for sanding metal surfaces, as it can quickly remove any rust or corrosion that may be present.

However, silicon carbide sandpaper can also be used on other materials such as wood or plastic. 

What to put on headlights after sanding?

It's important to put a clear coat on your headlights after sanding them down. This will protect the new, smooth surface from UV damage and keep your headlight looking newer for longer. You can find a clear coat in any auto parts store, and applying it is as simple as spraying it on and letting it dry.

Can you use 3000 grit sandpaper on headlights?

3000 grit sandpaper can be used on headlights, but it's not recommended. The higher the grit number on the sandpaper, the finer the particles are. A finer particle will give you a smoother finish.

However, if you're not careful, you can easily damage or scratch your headlights with 3000 grit sandpaper. It's always best to use a lower grit number when working with delicate surfaces like headlights.

Final Note

It is pretty easy to get overwhelmed by options, even if most of these choices don’t have what it takes. While we added some of the best sandpapers we found on the market, they are not the only ones available.

Manufacturers are releasing new sandpaper-products every year with different tech and high durability. So, we suggest checking our buying guide if you want to stay ahead of everyone when the newest items come.

Many people often ignore looking into various factors when buying sandpapers, deeming it as only a low-cost purchase. However, a low-grade sheet can ruin the surface you will be sanding. So, try to get a genuine idea of the sandpapers before buying. Reading reviews (from other customers or myself) will help you a lot here.

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