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?


ice on auto glass


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:

1. Water
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.

2. Heat

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.
3. Vinegar and Water Solutions
Not only has testing of the effectiveness of this method been inconclusive, vinegar has the potential to create small pits in the glass.

4. Water and Salt Solution

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.
5. Scraping
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


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. 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.

2. 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.


3. 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.


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.


Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.

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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.

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