One of the most annoying parts of driving in the winter is making sure to get out the door a few extra minutes early in order to clear the ice and snow off the windshield. It’s cold and time-consuming. Fortunately, there isn’t just one answer to how to defrost a windshield in winter. Use the method that works best for you.
Turn on Your Car’s Defroster
If you have a second while you’re loading up your car, you can turn on the defroster. On the one hand, it is simple, it requires minimal effort, and you don’t have to stand in the cold. On the other hand, it will take quite a bit of time and you’ll waste gas.
Scrape Off the Ice with a Scraper or Credit Card
If you have an ice scraper stored in your car, you can put in the elbow grease and clear off the ice yourself. A credit card can also sometimes work in a pinch, but you’ll likely have to deal with really cold hands and possibly a few scrapes if the ice is particularly chunky.
Depending on the type and amount of ice, this method could take just a few minutes or it could take much longer. It’s the tried-and-true method, but you have to deal with the freezing cold while you work.
Use Your Wipers
After scraping your windshield, you might end up with ice shavings or a stubborn, thin layer that seems to refuse to come off. One option is to hop in your car and spray your windshield wiper fluid. It can help soften up the ice and brush it away. Remember, this won’t actually help warm up your windshield, so it’s a good idea to turn on your defroster as well.
Please note: this method won’t work well on particularly cold days if your windshield wiper fluid isn’t made to withstand extremely cold temperatures.
Buy (or Make) a De-Icing Solution
You can likely pick up a commercial de-icing formula at a local store. If not, it’s easy to order online. You simply spray the solution on your windshield and scrape off the ice. It usually goes a lot faster and requires a lot less effort.
If you are more of the cost-saving, DIY type, you can make a formula at home. Fill up a clean, dry spray bottle with rubbing alcohol, mix in a few drops of your choice of dish soap, and mix it up by shaking the bottle thoroughly before use. Then simply spray and scrape.
What NOT to Do
You may have heard that pouring warm, hot, or even boiling water on your windshield to melt the ice quickly. While this might seem like a neat, cheap, time-saving hack, it can actually lead to significant, expensive damage to your car.
Glass reacts to rapid changes in temperature. When glass rapidly heats and cools (as your windshield will if it’s exposed to hot water then the cold air) it will expand and contract quickly. This can cause chips or even large cracks in your windshield. The hotter the water, the higher the risk, but even lukewarm water can potentially cause this reaction.
Even if your windshield does not crack, using water to defrost your windshield in winter can cause damage.
If the air is cold enough, the water may just freeze instead of de-icing the windshield. Any water that flows down the slope of the glass might collect near your windshield wipers and freeze there. This can cause the wipers to rip, and it can cause damage to the motor if the wipers are frozen in place.
When deciding how to defrost your windshield in winter, make sure to use a safe method to protect your car. Learn more about winterizing your car by reading more of our blog posts.