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What’s The Best Way To De-Ice A Frozen Windshield?

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What’s The Best Way To De-Ice A Frozen Windshield?

Even though the calendar says spring, the weather screams winter — icy temps and snow are blanketing much of the country. Folks here in Maine woke up to freezing rain, encasing their cars in a glaze of ice. On days like this, we get questions about the best de-icing methods.

Recently, we were asked via email:

I’ve heard that a mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle can safely melt ice off your windshield so you don’t have to chip it with an ice scraper, but my husband says it will pock my windshield. Help!

The vinegar and water deicer recipe seems to circulate around the Internet every winter and early spring. While vinegar may not pock the windshield (remember, vinegar is stored in glass bottles), it may prove corrosive to your vehicle’s chrome finishes and paint — it is acid, after all. And it’s not very effective at melting ice that has already formed.

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So what can you do? If you can’t take preventive measures, such as draping a tarp, large piece of cardboard, or blanket over your windshield before bad weather moves in, and you don’t have a garage to park in, are there any effective DIY solutions to loosen that nasty ice, other than running the vehicle (which isn’t very environmentally friendly)? Try these:

  • Vodka – Vodka contains ethanol which, if you’ve ever stored a bottle in the freezer, you know it doesn’t freeze. So it can make a good deicer. Mix one part water to two parts vodka and either spray or pour on the windshield, then scrape. (PS: An old card in your wallet doubles as an ice scraper in a pinch!). You might want to go with the less expensive brands for this use.
  • Grab the bottle of your car’s windshield wiper fluid from the trunk and apply it directly to the windshield to help soften the ice, then scrape.
  • Pickle juice – Because it contains salt, it is effective at getting rid of ice. Apply directly to the windshield. But salt is salt, and the brine also contains vinegar, which can be corrosive to your car’s finish. Be sure to “de-salt” your vehicle in a car wash as soon as the temps warm up.

In all cases, you’ll still have to scrape, but it’s not as challenging.

The bad news is that when ice attacks your windshield, it’s mostly a waiting game –waiting for warmer temperatures!

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4 comments

1 Joy { 01.03.17 at 8:06 am }

Looking for a way to stop ice/snow build up on my metal gazebo …..thanks

2 The snowier the better { 08.30.16 at 11:08 am }

Love the snow and winter

3 Mike Bramble { 07.25.16 at 7:43 am }

Walmart sells a spray bottle of, and a gallon refill bottle of windshield de-icer. It works fast and wonderful. A little goes a long way too. We keep a spray bottle in each car and by it by the gallon for refills, much cheaper by the gallon. I have been using it for five winters now and not damage to windshield, paint, or chrome. Still need to let defrosted get warm to clear windshield fog on the inside though.

4 Lewis Groome { 03.31.16 at 9:06 am }

Rubbing Alcohol works as well with 1 part water and 2 parts Rubbing Alcohol. Since rubbing alcohol freezes at a -185 degrees, it really works instantly. However, if snow or ice is on top of your car, it is your responsibility to remove it before traveling on the road. If any snow or ice on your car comes off and hits another driver’s vehicle and does damage, it will be your fault and you will have to fix that persons vehicle.

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