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

Are there any effective DIY methods to loosen that nasty ice? Find out!

Here’s the scenario: you’re running late for work, but when you get outside, your car is encased in ice. It looks more like a glazed donut than a vehicle. How can you get on your way as quickly as possible when you don’t have time to let the car’s defrost… defrost?

We often get questions about the best de-icing methods:

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.

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, here are some effective DIY solutions to loosen that nasty ice, other than running the vehicle continuously until it melts (which isn’t very environmentally friendly).

Best Ways To De-Ice A Frosty Windshield

  • 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.
  • Alcohol and water – if you don’t want to waste the vodka, break out the rubbing alcohol. Fill a clean spray bottle with 1 part water and 2 parts rubbing alcohol and store it in your car during the cold weather months. Spray it on your frosted windshield and windows on those chilly mornings to make scraping easier.
  • 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 chrome finishes. Be sure to “de-salt” your vehicle in a car wash as soon as the temps warm-up.
  • As a preventive measure, try a cut potato! The night before freezing temperatures, rub half a potato over your car’s windshield. The sugar from the potato creates a barrier over the window and prevents ice from forming, so you’ll come out in the morning and won’t have to scrape! Simply use your wipers and washer fluid to clear the residue away.

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

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Do you have a question or an idea for an article? Contact us!

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Leslie Inkpen

We always check the weather forecast. Before the snow or sleet arrives, we raise our blades & spray all windows with alcohol. All precipitation just slides off ???

Marie Corke

6

Zafar

I have used a large (1 or 2 Ltr) bottle of luke warm water to melt the ice fron the windshield and run the wipers immediately. I have done this on my personal cars and it has worked. This is fast, non corrosive and practical. I keep the bottle in the car and refill and re-use as needed.

Bonnie Ellen Benson

at least in this county, I would be concerned about vodka and water being the same as carrying an open container

Joy

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

The snowier the better

Love the snow and winter

Mike Bramble

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.

Lewis Groome

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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