DIY: Toothpaste as Cleaning Agent

Gregg & Hallee in Kuwait

My brilliant husband, Gregg, can be clever.

My clever husband often offers me a “day of rest” by taking over the homemaker duties here. I recently traded in the family mini-van for a gently used Jeep Cherokee. I really like it except for the fact that the headlights were in really bad shape. I mean, at night if someone came up behind me I would gratefully steer using their headlights!

My husband the problem solver ran to the dollar store and picked up some … toothpaste. What a difference. I asked him to document the process he went through for my readers. Enjoy.

Headlight Clouding

In most modern vehicles, the headlights are sealed in by a type of ABS plastic. Over time and with wear, the plastic will oxidize. This is what causes them to “cloud up” after a few years. Basically, the plastic calcifies and this then hardens, sort of like iron will cause metal to “rust” when it oxidizes.

There are a lot of expensive products on the market that may or may not remove this calcification depending on whether or not you have time, money, a lot of elbow grease, and an industrial sander. Admittedly, the better products will have a temporary clearing effect that may last up to a year.

But the fact is, to get rid of the clouding, you need an electrically charged industrial solvent that will destroy and inhibit the calcification on the clear plastic. Fortunately, such a chemical is readily available at your local dollar store.


I’m not advocating any particular brand, here. I looked for toothpaste with a high content of fluoride and I also went for baking soda and peroxide because I figured it couldn’t hurt to add surfactants for this experiment.

Here’s why this works: Fluoride is basically a chemical ion (inorganic anion) of the element fluorine (chemical formula F−). It’s ionic because fluoride has one extra electron that gives it a negative electrical charge. Each year, very large quantities of sodium fluoride is produced as nuclear waste. What to do with it? While fluoride is essential in aluminum smelting, though even that industry can’t use it all up. So — in America — fluoride is added by the metric ton to just about everything imaginable from toothpaste to entire municipal water supplies.

Please remember that fluoride really is a poisonous chemical. A lethal dose for most adult humans is estimated at 5 to 10 g (which is equivalent to 32 to 64 mg/kg elemental fluoride/kg body weight) with documented cases of fatalities in adults with as little as 4 g consumed. This fact isn’t a secret. If you read a fluoridated toothpaste label, most of them say something like this: “Warning! Keep out of reach of children. If more than used for brushing teeth is accidentally swallowed, seek medical help or contact your Poison Control Center immediately.”

Poison Toothpaste
Poison Toothpaste

What I am saying is please just USE CAUTION when handling large amounts of fluoridated toothpaste — as in more than you would use for brushing your teeth — just as you would use caution with handling any toxic chemical. Remember that concentrated fluoride solutions are toxic even through the skin (dermal contact) and must, therefore, be handled with appropriate care since it can cause skin irritation, eye damage, and irritation to mucous membranes. Latex gloves offer NO protection, so specially resistant gloves, such as those made of nitrile rubber, are worn when handling fluoride compounds in industry. In addition, concentrated fluoride solutions are handled wearing a fume hood because of the toxic vapors.

As for myself, I am not overly sensitive. I was very careful in the handling, application, amount in use at any given time, and I remained outside the entire time where my environment was well ventilated.

As a side note, for whatever reason there isn’t a lot of controversy about adding a known poisonous chemical to things like toothpaste and entire water supplies anymore. I also find it interesting that elementary age school children are routinely handed potentially fatal doses of fluoridated toothpaste in the little “children’s flavored” tubes at school functions and on Halloween. The fact that they are flavored like bubble gum and so forth is, in my opinion, asking for trouble. I find it all very interesting. Suffice to say, we don’t brush our teeth with fluoridated toothpaste and we filter our water. But make your own informed choices.

Still, you know what?  Every college student knows that the toxic white stuff is great as an inexpensive caulk or spackle, and any fluoride rich toothpaste will absolutely get rid of calcification. Take a look at wifey’s Jeep before and after.

Driver's Side Before
Driver’s Side Before
Driver's Side After
Driver’s Side After

Here’s what you do. Carefully apply the toothpaste to the cloudy lenses. I just used a toothbrush as an applicator so I didn’t have to touch it with my bare skin.

Apply to lense
Apply to lense

BIG WARNING: DO NOT let any toothpaste sit on your paint. Either mask off the lens, remove the headlight to work on it, or keep a wet soapy cloth handy to remove any toothpaste from the paint as soon as possible.

Fluoride will strip car paint like you wouldn’t believe.

Because it is a toxic electrically charged industrial solvent.

Where was I? Oh yes. CAREFULLY apply the toothpaste to the cloudy lens keeping it away from your paint. Use an old toothbrush you are about to throw away anyway and scrub in a circular brushing motion overlapping as you go. There is no need to floss.

Now, rinse thoroughly. You may want to do this at a car wash so you can really rinse it off. I snapped a shot of the still to do passenger side verses the completed driver side headlight.

Side by Side
Side by Side

Then I did the passenger side, too.

Passenger Side Before
Passenger Side Before
Passenger Side After
Passenger Side After

After this exercise, I ended up with a dirty toothbrush, a wet rag, and a pail of fluoride saturated water. The mental wheels started turning and I got another down to earth idea.

Dirty Tire
Dirty Tire

Remember how I said fluoride is essential in smelting aluminum?

Half way clean
Half way clean

You can’f find a better way to clean white letter tires or aluminum rims.


Now her jeep is minty fresh and ultra-bright!

Why it Works

Fluoride reacts with other minerals at a molecular level. In industry, beryllium fluoride and aluminum fluoride are used as phosphatase inhibitors. In fact, the mechanism of fluoride toxicity involves the combination of the fluoride anion with the calcium ions in the blood forming insoluble calcium fluoride, resulting in hypocalcemia. Because calcium is indispensable for nervous system function, this condition can be fatal within anywhere from 5 minutes to 12 hours depending upon the dose.

In other words, of all the purified poisonous industrial grade chemicals readily available at the corner dollar store, fluoride is the perfect choice to utterly destroy calcification on headlights and aluminum tires.

I commit to you that I will publish every single comment that meets this blog’s commenting criteria. You may want to review that criteria before adding your opinion here. God Bless you and yours. Gregg

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