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How to De-Ice You Windshield

If you cannot see out your windshield, it is not safe to drive. Always remove snow and ice from your car’s windshield, greatly increasing visibility and improve the safety of you and your passengers. If you live in an area with terrible winter weather, there are even steps you can take to prevent ice buildup.

Start your car and let it idle warm the car up. If your car has a “defrost” setting on the temperature gauge, put it on. Wait at least 15 minutes for the glass to warm up.

  • Never attempt to try to defrost the windshield using water, hot, cold, or warm. Using warm or hot water can cause the glass to break due to thermal shock due to temperature change. In very cold climates, cold water can also freeze on the windshield, making your troubles even worse.
  • While your car is warming up, make sure no ice, snow, or other materials are blocking the vehicle tailpipe. Remove any blockage to prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If you drive in a very snowy area, wait until the ice has noticeably begun to melt before proceeding to the next step. It may take thicker ice well over 15 minutes to sufficiently begin melting.

Apply an alcohol and water solution to melt the ice. Make a 2:1 rubbing alcohol to water solution and fill a spray bottle with it. Spray the solution onto all desired windows.

  • You can also add a few drops of dish soap to the solution. Adding chemicals is similar to adding salt and lowers the freezing point of water. This will melt the ice more quickly than warm water.
  • Unlike the saltwater solution, the alcohol solution can be sprayed liberally without risking damage to your car.

Buy a commercial de-icer if the homemade solutions fail. Most commercial formulas work well but tend to be costly. Like scrapers, these formulas shouldn’t be hard to find at your local car supply store. Almost every auto store has a section dedicated to de-icers.

Use a squeegee, soft-bristled brush, or your windshield wipers to scrub away the residue. Once you have applied your chosen solution, wipe away the liquid and ice from your windshield and car.

  • After a minute or two, your saltwater or alcohol solution should begin to melt the ice. Keep in mind, however, that the ice will only be partly melted. It will need to be brushed away in order to improve visibility.

Keep an ice scraper in the car all winter to chip ice off your windshield. You should purchase one for your car well in advance, then leave it in the trunk to handle ice if you have no other supplies around. Push it into the windshield and use short, powerful strokes to chip the ice away.

  • Ice scrapers are specialized tools for scraping ice from your windshield. Typically, they are plastic, and have a large, flat, dull blade on one end, and a handle on the other, sometimes combined with a brush. They can be purchased up at most auto stores and car supply stores. In cold climates, these will also be available in most large retail stores, hardware stores, gas stations, even grocery stores.
  • In a pinch you can use a standard squeegee to scrape ice, although this is not as effective. Scraper heads are made from plastic rather than rubber, and this makes them more sturdy when scrubbing away residue.


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