How to Clean a Cloudy Instrument Panel Lens

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Things You'll Need

  • Clean, lint-free rag

  • Cotton swab

  • Dish soap

  • Water

  • Plastic cleaner

Keep the plastic planel lens clean so you can clearly see the instruments.

The odometer, speedometer, gas gauge, blinkers and engine lights are all housed in the instrument panel of a car. The lens or plastic shield that protects the instruments can become caked with dirt and dust, especially along the edges. The lens itself can also become smudged with dirt and grime. After cleaning, the plastic may still be cloudy, but fortunately, you can usually remove the cloudiness, as well, so that you can clearly see the instruments.

Step 1

Clean the instrument panel lens with mild dish soap and water. Wet a soft lint-free rag or sponge with the soapy water, wring it out so it's not dripping and then wipe down the panel. Do not use a dry rag to clean the instrument panel lens because any dirt, sand and dust may inadvertently scratch the plastic as you are trying to clean it, according to

Step 2

Moisten a cotton swab slightly with the soapy water to clean along the edges of the instrument panel lens. Do not use too much water so that it gathers and seeps into the seams where it may get under the plastic covering. Follow up with a second cotton swab to soak up any remaining water that could get under the plastic.

Step 3

Use a plastic cleaner to clean the top surface of the instrument panel if it's still cloudy. Spray the cleaner to a clean, lint-free rag first and then use it to rub the instrument panel until the cloudiness disappears. Use a plastic cleaner labeled for use on instrument panel lenses and/or one recommended in your vehicle's owner's manual. Test the product in an inconspicuous spot before using it on the entire panel.


According to Saturn, cleaning sprays that contain silicone or wax could cause the instrument panel to reflect on the windshield, which could make seeing through the windshield more difficult in some circumstances. Read your user’s manual for any warnings and recommendations on cleaning your instrument panel lens.

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