How to De-Ice Your Windshield

windshield de-icer

It’s been quite a winter. Even here in the south, Old Man Winter has been busy dropping temperatures into single digits, blanketing the world in snow and making things generally difficult for commuters. As if hazardous road conditions were enough to make one hit the snooze button a couple of dozen times, there is an unpleasant chore ahead before a morning commute can even be attempted: de-icing the windshield.

When a layer of ice has formed on the windshield, it is tempting to spend as little time as possible in the cold by scraping a portal of visibility large enough to see through and hitting the road. Not only does this make for a stressful commute, but when coupled with sketchy road conditions it’s downright unsafe. Thoroughly de-icing the windshield may not be the most pleasant start to an already difficult morning, but it is essential for safe driving in inclement weather. Fortunately, there things we can do to minimize the inconvenience of this winter weather task.

Prevent an Icy Windshield

An ounce of prevention goes a long way toward keeping the windshield clear of ice. When precipitation is in the forecast during cold weather, covering the windshield with a tarp or sheet is effective, but can be unwieldy, especially when inches of snow are expected. Commercial sprays are available for preventing ice from attaching to the glass, but they can be costly. When ice is anticipated, go DIY. A combination of three parts white vinegar to one part water sprayed on the windshield and windows and wiped off will keep ice from developing, but should be employed carefully, as prolonged contact with vinegar will remove the wax from painted surfaces. Limit spray to glass only and wipe away any excess or overspray. A vinegar solution is sometimes suggested for removing ice, but it is far more effective as a preventative measure when ice is anticipated.

Remove Ice Safely

Without advance notice, dealing with ice can be a little more frustrating. Pounding on the ice to “loosen” it is a dangerous proposition and pouring hot water on a frozen windshield is a recipe for disaster, as the abrupt change in temperature is likely to crack the glass. When it comes to de-icing the windshield, the safest method for de-icing a windshield is to run the car’s defroster to warm the glass and use an ice scraper to dislodge the ice as it melts. While effective, the process is slower than one would like when standing around in arctic temperatures.

Make Your Own De-Icer

Safe and effective is the way to go, but that doesn’t mean it has to be slow. By all means, run that defroster and keep the scraper on hand, but a simple formula for speeding up the melting process can be found using household ingredients.

To make your own de-icer, combine one two parts 70% isopropyl alcohol with one part water and add a few drops of dish soap. This simple cocktail sprayed on an icy windshield will quickly loosen the ice, making it easy to remove using an ice scraper (or even windshield wipers, if you’re willing to wait a little longer). Store it in a spray bottle tucked away in the trunk to make sure its on hand to make winter de-icing a snap when it’s time to hit the road. Be safe! Maybe you’ll luck out and get a snow day.

If these tricks aren’t enough to dig you out of Snowmageddon, try this cool tool road-tested by DIY Network host Chris Grundy.

3 Responses

  1. Jessi says:

    Does the alcohol in the last solution keep it from freezing in the cold trunk of a car?

    • Mick Telkamp says:

      Hi Jessi – Yes, the alcohol will keep this from freezing. You can even put a 50/50 mix in your wiper fluid reservoir to help deal with ice on the go.

  2. Keri_HGTV says:

    Thanks, Mick. This is exactly what I needed! My car heater doesn't work, and I've been spending half the morning scraping (and freezing!). I'll definitely be giving the homemade de-icer a try next time my windshield is icy.

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About Mick Telkamp 

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A former Midwesterner living in North Carolina, I write about my adventures in backyard chicken-keeping and suburban homesteading over at HGTVGardens, and my exploits in the culture of Southern cooking ...

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