Cleaners such as Windex helps keep glass clean, including your windshield, right? So wouldn’t it be a good idea to add some Windex to your windshield wiper fluid, also known as washer fluid, to keep it that way, or to replace your wiper fluid altogether with Windex? The answer is a resounding “no” on all counts, as this will damage many parts of your vehicle—including the glass.
While Windex is a great product for the glass in your home, you shouldn’t use it at all on your windshield, even to clean the glass. Many Windex products have ammonia, and may leave streaks on auto glass. This can pose a danger as it can create a glare while driving at night. It can also ruin your glass if it has been tinted, either from the factory, or as an aftermarket product.
The effects are even more damaging if you ever add Windex to your wiper fluid or replace it for your fluid altogether. Windex includes chemicals that could damage the washer system, and contains chemicals that could damage the paint on your car. Ammonia also dries out the rubber mouldings on cars, and could dry out the hoses that run from the washer fluid tank to the spray nozzles. It may even damage the windshield washer spray nozzles mounted on your hood over time. When your windshield wipers move to wipe the windshield clean after fluid is sprayed, the ammonia-based cleaner would end up on the delicate rubber windshield wiper blade and damage it over time.
Let’s look at the chemicals found in windshield wiper fluid. These include Methanol and other types of alcohol, including Ethylene Glycol. Many also contain small amounts of ethanol (antifreeze) made from methylated spirits to keep the product from freezing during the winter.
The S.C. Johnson website lists Windex’s ingredients as water, 2-hexoxyethanol, isopropanolamine, sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate, lauramine oxide, ammonium hydroxide, fragrance, and Liquitint sky blue dye.
One important distinction is that windshield washer fluid has an additive to keep it from freezing, while Windex does not. Neither does water, so don’t be tempted to top off your fluid with water to save money as that is also not a good idea.
Windshield wiper fluid is for more than just keeping your windshield clean. It also lubricates the washer fluid pump, which is a very important function. If the pump doesn’t stay lubricated, it can stop working, leak and get corroded—none of which are good for your car.
When you activate the washer, the pump sends the fluid through a length of tubing that leads from the tank to just under the windshield. The process works the same if your vehicle has a rear washer as well.
Don’t get too caught up in which brand of fluid to buy, but you may want to consider the climate you live in. A general wiper fluid works well for warm weather. If you have cold winters, you’ll want to invest in a winter wiper fluid as these contain Methanol with Ethylene Glycol, a more powerful antifreeze. In those colder climates, a de-icing fluid is also a good choice.
There are other benefits of the ingredients found in wiper fluid—another reason to stick with these products. Some wiper fluids contain hydrophobic additives that can help rain bead off the windshield, while others contain extra-strength bug remover.
Now that you know what types of fluid to use and why it is so important, you should check it periodically. After, all, it is important to always make sure you have enough fluid to keep your windshield clean, as this is important to ensure your windshield’s visibility.
Perhaps you are reading this article after you added Windex or water to the container, instead of windshield wiper fluid. Here are some tips for correcting that situation.
Keep all this in mind, the next time you go to replenish your wiper fluid. Your car and its windshield will thank you.
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