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De-Icing Your Car’s Windshield

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Winter storms and freezing temperatures often lead to thick layers of ice on your car’s glass. No one likes wasting gas waiting for their car to warm up and defrost the windows. So what are your options for de-icing your car’s windshield?


Before we tell you what the best options are, let’s talk about some of the common methods that aren’t so good and why they can be potentially damaging to your car and its glass. 

AVOID The Following Methods When De-Icing Your Car’s Windshield:


Some people may have told you to use water to remove ice from your windshieldDO NOT USE THIS METHOD. Spraying or pouring hot or warm water on your car’s glass may lead to breakage caused by sudden extreme temperature changes. And using cold water could build another layer of ice. 


You may have also heard that you should use a heat source to defrost your windshield. Hair dryers, lighters, blow torches, candles (we’ve seen it all!), or anything else that produces intense, concentrated heat is out of the question for the same reason above. DO NOT USE THESE TOOLS  TO DEFROST YOUR WINDSHIELD.

Vinegar and Alcohol Solutions

Not only has testing of the effectiveness of this method been inconclusive, vinegar has the potential to create small pits in the glass. Alcohol may dry out gaskets around the windshield.

Water and Salt Solutions

Salt is effective at melting ice, but its effect on your car can be detrimental. Just as salt from the roads eventually may rust holes in lower body panels, spraying a salt solution near your windshield could cause the pinchweld to rust. The pinchweld is a vital structure that holds your windshield in place.


Vigorous scraping can lead to scratching or even breakage. (There is a right way and a wrong way to go about this, which we cover below.)

ice on glass car mirror

The Correct Way to Remove Ice From a Windshield

So now that you know what not to do, what options are left for effectively ridding your car’s glass of ice? Try the steps below in order for the best results:

1. Prevention

The night before an impending storm or cold snap, cover your vehicle’s windshield.. Using a windshield cover can help keep snow, ice and frost from building up on the surface of the glass. Instead of spending precious time scraping your windshield in the morning, you’ll simply pull the cover off. 

Subzero 42" H x 61" W Arctic Defense MAXX Windshield Cover
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Black Frost Guard Windshield Cover and Side Mirrors
FrostGuard Plus Windshield Snow Cover with Built-in Wiper Cover & 2 Security Panels, Black
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2. Defrost

Start your car and turn on the heated defrost. Although this won’t have much effect until your engine warms up to operating temperature (up to 15 minutes), it will help keep new ice from forming once you’re driving. If there’s snow on the ground, ensure it is not blocking the car’s tailpipe, which can cause carbon dioxide to build inside the cabin.

3. De-ice

Those home-made recipes above won’t do the trick or be safe for your glass. The best option is a de-icer spray that can be found at your local auto parts store. These are formulated specially to melt the ice from your car’s glass without harming it or the surrounding paint.

Many windshield washer fluids contain some amount of de-icer so you can also try squirting some of this on the windshield from your car’s built in washer fluid system. Just remember, it will also trigger your wipers to cycle- so be sure they can move freely and are not obstructed by snow or ice. Also keep in mind that the washer nozzles need to have a clear shot at the windshield and any snow or ice should be cleared from in front of them as well.

Prestone Windshield De-Icer - 17 oz. Aerosol (TWIN PACK)
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CRC Ice-Off Windshield Spray De-Icer - 12 oz. (Set of 3)
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4. Scrape – The Right Way

After the de-icer spray has had a few moments to begin working, you can use a plastic scraper to gently scrape away the frozen layer. It is important to use plastic as other materials can leave marks and scratches. Be sure the scraper, snow/ice and windshield are all clean of any dirt and debris which could scratch the glass when scraping. Also be careful not to scrape too close to the edges of the glass, otherwise you may accidentally snag gasket or trim pieces.

MICHELIN Heavy Duty 25” Snow Brush and Ice Scraper - Lightweight Ergonomic Design (2 Pack)
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Snow Brush with Detachable Ice Scraper and Ergonomic Foam Grip, 34" to 41.5" Extendable Snow Removal Broom for Cars, Trucks, and SUVs
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These steps are an outline for de-icing your car’s windshield to get you on the road quickly, but extreme winter weather has the potential to turn de-icing your car’s windows into a time consuming project. Have patience and repeat steps 2 and 3 until the glass is clear. In addition to the windshield, be sure to check and clean your side windows, back window, headlights, and mirrors too. Don’t begin driving until you have a clear and safe view of the road from all of these.

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Daniel Snow

Daniel Snow serves as the Vice President of Operations for and is also a contributing editor. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from George Mason University and has a background in the real estate industry. After high school, Daniel even worked at a family-owned glass shop for a short period of time and is an Auto Glass Safety Council certified installer. In his free time, Daniel enjoys being outdoors, especially around the water where he can be found surfing, fishing, and boating. He has a passion for bringing old vehicles back to life and loves working with his hands to restore cars, boats, and motorcycles. Find out more about Daniel on Linkedin.

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