There’s no time that wiper blades are more important than in the winter when roads are coated with slush and snow. During this time, your windshield is highly likely to get coated with grime you must remove.
Frozen wiper blades don’t function and must be cleaned and thawed before you can use them otherwise they either won't work or they might break.
Coming out to your car and finding your wipers are stuck to the windshield is never fun. But luckily there are some easy ways you can quickly get ice off your windshield wipers.
The best way to quickly get ice off your windshield wipers is to spray them with de-icer wiper fluid or a 1/3 water and 2/3 isopropyl alcohol mix. This will quickly melt the ice on the windscreen wipers allowing you to use them whilst driving.
De-icing windshield wiper fluid is a convenient tool for thawing frozen wiper blades, but it’s one of many tools available. If you don’t have the fluid available, you still have options.
Learn how you can use things like alcohol, salt water, and other solutions to clean off your wiper blades below.
Don’t Use Hot Water
While hot water isn’t likely to damage your wiper blades, if it comes into contact with your windshield, it could cause it to crack. That’s why you should always avoid pouring hot water on your vehicle.
Instead, rely on cool water that’s infused with an additive such as alcohol or de-icer fluid to prevent it from freezing.
For small amounts of frost and ice you can try the warm water in a plastic bag method that I talk about in my article on how to quickly remove ice from your windshield with water.
Don’t Pry the Wipers Free
It’s tempting to try and pull frozen wipers off your windshield so you can remove the ice from them manually.
Avoid pulling on the blades too hard, or you could damage the rubber and leave them non-functional. Don't rush, it's better to take your time than to rush and cause damage to your wipers.
Don’t Turn on the Frozen Wipers
While it might seem like a quick solution to your issue, you shouldn’t turn frozen wiper blades on in an effort to get them to detach from your windshield.
Trying to turn the wipers on may damage your wiper motor and prevent it from working in the future.
Always try to move your wiper blades manually before turning the wiper motor on to avoid doing any damage.
1. Use Special Wiper Fluid
Equip your vehicle with winter wiper fluid that is meant to break apart ice. With this fluid in your vehicle, you have a way to battle frozen wiper blades.
This wiper fluid can be found at most automotive stores or you can purchase it here at Amazon, and it often has a snowflake on the package to indicate that it’s meant for winter use.
Spray the blades using this solution whenever they become frozen, and the ice will immediately begin to thaw.
You can use the cars windshield wiper spray functionality or if you want more targeted results keep some of the de-icer fluid in a spray bottle (clearly labeled).
Use the spray bottle to generously spray your windscreen wipers and this will quickly work to melt the ice. You can also use this spray on your windscreens to melt ice fast. It can even be sprayed on your windscreen the night before to prevent ice from forming on your windshield.
One of the most effective de-icer windshield washer fluids. Melts ice down to -34ºF (-36ºC) and prevents dangerous refreeze.
Cleans winter salt and grime and has a streak and glare free finish.
2. Wait for the Window Defroster
If you aren’t in a hurry, you can let the window defroster do its job. Start your vehicle, and turn on the defroster to direct warm air toward the windshield.
Wait for 10 minutes or more, and your windshield, as well as your wipers, will begin to thaw.
This method can fully clean off your windshield wipers, but it works best if the wipers are only slightly frozen. If they are heavily frozen then this method can sometimes take too long and you should put in some manual work with a spray or scraper to completely get rid of the ice.
If you’re going to allow your vehicle to warm up fully before driving it, you’ll likely have time to melt the frost using the defroster.
3. Spray with Alcohol and Water
Create a mixture that’s made from 3/4 isopropyl alcohol or another strong alcohol and 1/4 cool water. Spray the mixture onto the frozen wiper blades to thaw the frozen surface fully.
Alcohol has a lower freezing point than water, which allows it to convert ice into a liquid that isn’t likely to refreeze.
The good thing about this technique is this alcohol based de-icer spray won't freeze in your car overnight. So you can keep it in your car and have it handy whenever you need to clear ice off your windscreen wipers.
4. Use a Specialized De-icing Spray
If you don’t want to make a homemade de-icing solution, you can purchase commercial de-icing sprays instead. These sprays come in small bottles and are designed to help break up ice in winter.
Spray a light coating of your solution onto the wipers to clear away the ice.
This Pretone De-Icer Spray at Amazon has really high ratings, is affordable for a 6-pack and the lid also doubles as an ice scraper helping you to remove thick ice from your windshield.
Melt ice on your windshield, windows and windscreen wipers fast and prevents dangerous re-freeze. High methanol content ensures ice will melt quickly and lid doubles as an ice scraper.
5. Scrape off the Ice
If the ice buildup on your wipers isn’t too bad, you may be able to scrape off the ice. Drag the ice scraper across the rubber part of your wiper blades to carefully remove any built-up ice crystals.
Use light pressure to scrape off ice, and only try this method if the ice comes off easily.
If the ice is very stuck to the wiper blades, you should utilize one of the other methods above before you damage your blades.
6. Use Vinegar and Water
If you make a mixture that includes three parts of vinegar to one part of water, you can use it to melt ice from your wipers.
The solution is proven to help break up ice when it’s applied directly. Learn more about vinegar and its ability to melt ice here.
Add this mixture to a spray bottle for a simple application, and use cool water to avoid damaging your windshield. You can also use pickle juice as an alternative to this solution with the same results.
The downside with this vinegar solution is it only really works down to around 28ºF/-2ºC and doesn't work in colder temperatures. It's also acidic and can cause some corrosions so it should be used sparingly and washed off as soon as the weather warms.
7. You Can Use Salt Water…But It's Not Recommended
Add one cup of table salt to 1 quart or 1 liter of cool water and stir the mixture until the salt dissolves. Pour the solution into a spray bottle to finish preparing for your frozen wipers.
Hit your wipers with a stream of your prepared spray to clean off the ice buildup. You can use this same solution on a frozen or frost-covered windshield with similar results.
Learn more about why salt works so well on ice in this guide on melting ice with salt.
Saltwater has a lower freezing point than plain water, and the solution will lower the freezing point of the ice on your wipers enough to make the ice melt.
However, saltwater can be damaging to vehicles, and other structures, so use it on your vehicle sparingly.
Learn how salt can even harm concrete in this overview.
How to Protect Your Wipers from Becoming Icy
Rather than trying to remove the ice from your windshield wipers, you can take measures to prevent ice from forming on them. One simple trick is to cover each wiper with bags held in place by rubber bands. You can also secure towels to each wiper to keep ice off.
If you cover your wipers, they won’t form ice for you to remove. You can peel off your protective cover and start using your wipers like normal right away.
While raising your wipers off the windshield might not stop them getting ice on them, it will stop them from sticking to your windshield. This makes them much easier to treat and great rid of the ice and it also makes it easier to remove the ice from your windshield as well.
Ice buildup can stop wiper blades from functioning properly, leaving your windshield unprotected from dirt and debris as you drive.
By using de-icing wiper fluid or one of the other methods outlined above, you can clear away the ice and get your wiper blades ready to perform.