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7 Tips and Tricks for Defogging Windshields in Winter

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What’s the worst way to defrost your windshield during winter freezes? Consider this real-life example:
Nearly every morning of my late high school years, I bummed rides to school with one of the twin boys who lived next door to my family in rural Virginia. Every morning, I climbed the stairs to the bedroom they shared and rouse at least one of them, usually Jimmy.
The weather had been awful and the windshield of Jimmy’s car was covered with ice and freezing rain. Because we were running late, Jimmy boiled a pot of water, dumped a spoon or two of instant coffee and instant creamer into an oversized coffee mug, poured in the water, and off we went.

Except, on chilly mornings, he poured the rest of the pot of water on the windshield of his 1974 Dodge Charger to melt the frost, ice, or snow to clear the windshield.

Well, friends, that’s the dumbest way to defrost your windshield because you end up with frozen coffee on a cracked windshield.

Whether in rural, suburban, or urban Virginia, Indiana, Montana, or Wisconsin, tossing a hot or warm liquid onto any frozen windshield is terrible.

Highway safety experts say winter presents common challenges for drivers, such as dealing with foggy and frozen car windshields. Reduced visibility due to condensation on the glass can be hazardous, making it crucial to address the issue promptly.

Using hot water on a windshield can crack or shatter the glass due to the sudden temperature change. Using salt or salt water to melt ice on the windshield is also not recommended.

Instead, try a homemade windshield pre-treatment solution of three parts white vinegar to one part water. Apply the mixture with a spray bottle the evening before the freeze sets in, then wipe it off. Keep in mind, though, that some glass professionals warn that extended exposure to liquid vinegar may cause micro-pitting of the windshield glass.

A plastic windshield ice scrapper comes in handy to remove accumulated snow and ice. Do not use anything metallic on the windshield, as significant damage may occur. A credit or debit card does the trick in a pinch, but you may need to order a new one afterward.

Also, Amazon sells a variety of quality windshield covers to keep snow and ice from accumulating on the glass.

Here are some additional tips to defrost your windshield and other vehicle sidelites:

  1. Adjust your vehicle’s ventilation settings

Turn on the defroster and direct the airflow toward the windshield. Setting the temperature to a warmer level speeds up the process. The defrost setting activates the front and rear defrosters for quick defrosting.

  1. Turn on the air conditioner.

That’s right, turn the air conditioner on. Using AC in winter seems counterintuitive, but turning it on helps reduce humidity inside the car, removing moisture and keeping the windshield from fogging. Stick to moderate temperature settings to avoid becoming too cold.

  1. Crack the window open just a bit.

Small amounts of fresh air balances temperature and humidity levels. A slightly opened window promotes air circulation and prevents excessive condensation on the windshield.

  1. Keep your windshield clean.

A clean windshield is less likely to fog up. Glass cleaners remove dirt, grime, or residue from the windshield’s interior. Applying an anti-fog solution creates a protective barrier, reducing the formation of condensation. Choose a good glass cleaner. Of course, we think’s glass cleaner is the best available.

  1. Avoid recirculated air.

Although it helps warm your car’s interior, recirculated air also increases humidity. Select the fresh air intake to maintain a balance and prevent an accumulation of moisture on the windshield.

  1. Let your vehicle warm up before you put it in drive.

Take some extra time for the engine and cabin temps to warm before hitting the road. Many newer vehicles offer remote start options that allow the car to warm up while you enjoy that first cup of java.

  1. Keep the inside of your ride dry.

Remember, wet stuff like umbrellas, boots, or damp clothes add extra moisture to the car’s interior. Keeping your car’s interior and the stuff in it dry reduces the chance of increased cabin moisture and window fogging.


If we’re too late in telling you not to use hot water on an ice-cold windshield, perhaps you’re in need of a windshield replacement for that cracked windshield. Use to receive instant auto glass replacement quotes – no personal contact info required!

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



Steve Campbell

Steve Campbell is the editor of Auto Glass Repair & Replacement (AGRR) magazine. He is an award-winning business journalist.

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