Safely De-icing Your Windshield

It’s that time of year again – ice and snow season. Here’s hoping for a mild winter, but let’s plan for what to do when the precipitation piles up and you’ve got somewhere to go. If you aren’t parking in a garage, you’ll need to plan a little extra time in your morning just to get out of your driveway.

We are all in a hurry to get where we are going, but some shortcuts can be damaging to your car. You might think that a quick fix for an icy windshield is to pour some hot water on it to melt the ice away. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT use this tactic. The extreme difference in temperature can cause cracked glass. The obvious way is to run your vehicle’s defroster to slowly warm the glass, so that when you scrape the ice, it should fall away easily. Do not pound on the ice to loosen it, either, unless you are prepared to purchase a new windshield soon after.

Don’t have the time for that? An alternative to waiting for the defroster to work while you are standing around getting frostbite is to use de-icing fluid. There are commercial products available for this, but there are a couple of ways to make your own spray-on de-icer:

* Mix two parts isopropyl alcohol (70% strength) with one part water, and add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid.


* Mix a few tablespoons of salt with water for your spray bottle – road salt is best, but table salt will do. The salt water has a lower freezing point than fresh water, so it begins to melt the ice immediately.

Spritzing either of these on the ice will accelerate the melting and quickly loosen the ice for you to scrape. Don’t be tempted to use your windshield wipers until the ice has melted though. You can damage the wiper blades (and even the motor mechanism) if you try to run them while they are still frozen to the glass. Store your spray bottle in your car so you have it wherever and whenever you need it.

One more trick – prevent the ice build-up from happening at all. When you are expecting inclement weather, spray a mixture of three parts vinegar to one part water onto your car windows. This should keep ice from developing in the first place. Be careful to apply to glass only, as overspray could affect the wax on your paint job.

Safe driving everyone and stay warm!