We’ve all been there: Already running behind schedule, you hop into your car, ready to go … until you see the layer of frost on your windshield. In an ideal world, you’d have the extra time it takes to let your car warm up and melt the ice, but today, you’re in a rush. Thankfully there are ways to speed up the process, say experts. Keep scrolling so you can prepare yourself for the next freeze by learning exactly how and how not to defrost your windshield — fast.
Why windshields frost over
“As the temperature decreases, the moisture in the warmer air is released, leading to condensation,” explains Thomas Patterson, Director of New Product Development and Technical Training, Glass Doctor, a Neighborly company. “This process is responsible for forming water droplets on your windshield, or in colder conditions, moisture transformation into ice.” And that’s what leaves you scrounging on a busy morning.
How *not* to defrost your windshield
Before tackling how to defrost your windshield fast, it’s important to tackle the one thing you probably want to do but should avoid at all costs: pouring hot or cold water on it. “Hot water can cause thermal stress and cracking,” Patterson warns. “Cold water will likely not effectively melt the ice and could cause further issues.”
Also smart to avoid: Using sharp objects to scrape it off. It might crack or get under the ice, but it’s also highly likely that they’ll scratch the windshield. Hitting the ice isn’t any better, says Victor Botnari, owner of Universal Motorcars, because the glass could crack.
How to defrost your windshield
These simple solutions will clear up your windshield in (almost) no time:
1. Use a good brush
One obvious yet effective solution is to invest in a high-quality scraper with a brush. “Look for one that has an extendable arm so you can brush snow off the roof and hood,” advises Patterson. “Don’t skimp on quality; ensure the handle is rigid and won’t break when scraping away ice.”
2. Try *this* cocktail
Botnari recommends a homemade deicing solution: two parts rubbing alcohol to one part water, or a spray bottle of water with ¼ cup of sidewalk salt or 1 cup of table salt. Just mix it in the spray bottle without shaking, spray and watch the ice melt away! Tip: The rubbing alcohol solution is ideal to keep in the car for on-the-go use because the freeze point of rubbing alcohol is so low (-128°F). You can also purchase deicer at any auto parts store.
This video show just how well it works:
3. Swipe it with a plastic bag filled with lukewarm water
You may have also seen the viral hack of putting water into a sandwich bag before sealing it and dragging the bag slowly across the face of the window. Experts say it’s a safe hack, just make sure the water is lukewarm. And Patterson adds, though technically you could use a bag or bottle of hot water from the interior, he recommends against it because “it may not provide uniform coverage and could lead to uneven melting.” Plus, adds Botnari, it’ll take a lot longer than any other method.
Another option: Gradually pouring lukewarm water on your windshield can often get the job done. It warms up the ice, turning it into slush that can be removed by your windshield wipers.
4. Prefer to wait in the car? Follow *these* steps
If you prefer a 100% free method that lets you stay inside the car (we wouldn’t blame you), follow these steps from Patterson:
- Start your engine and turn on the heater to the maximum setting to absorb excess moisture with hot air.
- Activate the A/C button to use the air conditioner coils for faster air drying.
- Turn off air recirculation to bring in dry, fresh winter air.
- Crack your windows to exchange humid air with dryer outside air.
To speed it up even more? Position your visors down!
This TikTok from @saraedeutsch explains why it works:
How to prevent frost from forming on the windshield
Avoid the morning rush by providing a solution before your windshield ever becomes a problem:
Cover your windshield with a towel: The #1 recommendation of Botnari is to use a car cover, which shields your vehicle from the elements. They’re fairly inexpensive, but if it’s still not in the budget or you’re feeling thrifty, consider alternatives such as a towel, a tarp or even a piece of cardboard.
Protect your wiper blades with socks: “Make sure your wiper blades stay clean by lifting them every time you park outside in the colder climate,” Patterson advises. “That way, after you spray the ice off the window, your wiper blades are free of ice and ready to do their job.” You can accomplish the same result by putting stockings or knee-high socks over them too.
Pre-spray the glass: The night before, spray deicer on your windshield — any of the above recipes will do.
For more helpful car tips, click through the links below: