It's never fun to wake up to a car covered in snow and ice and a windscreen you can't see through because it's caked in ice. It's even worse when you're running late for work and need to get driving as quickly as possible.
Sometimes you don't have the time for your car to warm up and melt the ice. But there are quite a few tricks and techniques you can use to clear the ice off your windshield quickly without cracking or damaging the windscreen.
You should NEVER pour boiling water on your windscreen to get the ice off as this can crack the windscreen. Instead use a commercial or homemade deicer, combined with a scraper and your cars heater to remove the ice from your windscreen as quickly as possible.
Don't Use Hot/Boiling Water!
It may seem like the best way to get ice off your windshield quickly is to pour hot water on it. After all the hot water will melt the ice right?
Well yes it will but you should avoid this at all costs because the big temperature changes could potentially crack your glass and ruin your windscreen.
Glass doesn't conduct heat very quickly, which means the surface temperature of the glass heats up while the lower layers remain cold. This can lead to stress fractures and major cracks in your windshield.
So while you may be tempted to pour boiling water on your windscreen to melt the ice I would advise against this if you want to keep your windscreen intact. There are better ways to clear the ice from your windscreen without damaging it.
Use A Combination Of These Methods
Below I list 10 different techniques for getting ice off your windscreen quickly and they all work just fine separately.
However, for the best and fastest results you'll want to combine these techniques so you can be on the road as quickly as possible.
To begin turn your car on to warm up the heater, pointing the fans at the windshield. Also use an extra heater powered by the car or your house to get things warm while you clear the windshield (and to stop ice reforming as your drive).
Then remove any snow and apply a de-icing spray to your windshield and allow it to begin working for 15-60 seconds. Then use a scraper to remove the ice from your windshield.
1. Scrapers (+ De-Icer)
Scraping ice off your windshield can be an arduous task but depending on the thickness of the snow and ice it may be a necessary evil if you want to get on the road quickly.
Having a good scraper can make the difference between being on time for work and being late.
Use your scraper to remove excess snow and easy to remove ice from the windshield and then apply a de-icer spray to the remaining ice to make it easier to scrape off.
There are a lot of great scrapers out there but how do you pick out a good scraper from all the options available?
- First, choose one with a comfortable grip. Cold mornings are not the time to deal with an awkwardly shaped handle.
- Look for one with a sturdy blade that won't bend or break under pressure. It's also helpful to have a built-in brush on one side to clear snow off larger surfaces.
- And finally, don't underestimate the importance of size – make sure the scraper is easy to store in your car without getting in the way but large enough that you can quickly clear your windscreen.
These considerations will ensure that you have a reliable tool for quickly clearing those pesky wintry windshields.
For something small and compact the Prestone De-Icer Spray Can at Amazon comes with a built in ice scraper.
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.
2. For Thin Ice Use a Bag Of Hot Water
If you only have a thin layer of ice on your windscreen and the temperature outside isn't too cold then a bag of hot water can be used to melt the ice on your windscreen in just two minutes.
Pouring hot water onto your windscreen can crack it, but this hack uses the heat from water in a more controlled way and shouldn't damage your windscreen. This is the best way to get ice off your windscreen with water.
Grab a sandwich bag or a Ziploc bag and pour hot water from your tap or kettle into the bag (do you want to use hot water or not boiling water off of this.)
You don't need a huge amount of water, just enough for as if you're about to carry home a goldfish.
Place the bag of warm water on your windshield lightly and move it up and down to melt the ice. You can also use a scraper after doing this if the ice on your windshield is too thick to be completely clear using the bag alone.
This technique seems to work best on thin layers of ice and when the outside temperature isn't too cold. Otherwise the ice will simply re-freeze again as soon as you start driving.
3. Use Windshield De-Icer Fluid
If ice on your windshield is some thing that you have to regularly deal with and it can be a good idea to fill up your car with winter wiper fluid that is designed to break apart ice on your windscreen.
You can grab this wiper fluid from most automotive stores, large grocery stores or you can purchase it here at Amazon.
Turn your car on and get the heater going and then spray a generous amount of the wiper fluid onto your windscreen to begin melting the ice.
The wiper fluid is designed to lower the freezing point of ice (just like how rock salt melts ice on the roads) and the ice on your windscreen will begin to melt. This is one of the best ways to get ice off your windscreen without using heat.
The wiper fluid also prevent fresh ice from forming as you begin driving so you shouldn't have an issue of the windscreen re-icing over until your car is warm enough to fully heat the windscreen.
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.
4. Use A Water and Alcohol Solution
Rather than purchasing a de-icer you can make your own at home.
One of the best (and safest) solutions for your car is a mix of isopropyl alcohol and water.
Create a mix that is 3/4 isopropyl alcohol (70% or 99%) and 1/4 cool water. Put it in a spray bottle and keep it in your car so you can use it on your windscreens whenever you need to.
The alcohol will lower the freezing temperature of the ice on your windshield and cause it to start melting within just a few seconds. This is also a good way to quickly get ice off your windshield wipers if they are stuck to your car.
For thicker ice you may need to wait longer or do multiple applications or you may need to combine this spray with an ice scraper to completely clear your windshield.
99% isopropyl alcohol. Great for cleaning and a variety of other uses.
5. Use Vinegar and Water
Another option is to mix equal parts apple cider vinegar or regular vinegar and water.
The acidity helps to break down the ice on contact, while the water dilutes it enough to spray without damaging your car's paint or windshield.
This formulation only really works in milder temperatures down to around -2ºC/28ºF and won't work well in temperatures colder than that.
Whichever recipe you choose, spray onto your frozen windscreen and scrape away any residual ice as needed.
6. Turn The Heat On In Your Car or Buy An Extra Heater
Whether you're using one of the other methods in this list or not it's always a good idea to start your car running and get the heat going as soon as possible.
Ice freezes to your windscreen because the glass cools down to sub-freezing temperatures. The best way to get ice off your windscreen and to keep it off while you're driving is to warm up the glass so the ice and snow melts as soon as it hits the glass.
It can take time for your car to warm up enough to heat your windscreen so get your car running as soon as possible and get the heater fans pointed at the windscreen while you apply your de-icer sprays or scrape off the ice.
It's also got the added benefit that the inside of the car will be warm for you.
There are also car heater alternatives that you can buy to speed up the process. Most of the 12V ones that plug into your cigarette lighter are cheap quality and a waste of money but ones that hook up directly to your battery tend to work better.
7. Use A Residential Electric Heater
A neat trick to warm up the inside of your car faster and to help warm up the windscreen so the ice melts faster is to use a residential heater inside your car.
For this your car will need to be close to your house (eg. in your driveway) and you will need a compact fan heater that is safe to use in the confined space of your car and won't burn anything.
This little 1500W electric ceramic space heater with fan (at Amazon) is an affordable and portable option that could work well.
The advanced PTC ceraming heating technology combined with the ultra-efficient fan will heat up any space faster and distribute the heat more evenly. Just turn on your space heater, count to 3, and enjoy your warm living room, bedroom or office.
Run an extension chord from your house (a waterproof one if it's raining…be safe) and place the electric heater in a safe spot in your car and turn it on.
Ideally point the fan towards the windscreen where possible to begin warming that up as quickly as possible.
This will make the inside of your car toasty warm while the car warms up and while you use the other techniques to get the ice off your windshield. It will also help to slowly warm the windscreen so ice doesn't reform.
Just don't forget to unplug it and pack up everything before driving away.
8. You Can Use Salt…But It's Not Recommended
Rock salt is great at melting ice and a brine mixture of salt and water can be used to quickly melt the ice on your windscreen but it should be used with great care.
Salt is corrosive to the metal is cars and can lead to excessive rust if you're not careful.
You can use a salt spray to melt the ice on your windscreen but you'll want to wash away the salt with water as soon as possible to avoid rusting. This makes extra work that I don't feel is worth it. But for some people it might be a good solution.
9. Cover Your Windshield To Prevent Ice From Forming In The First Place
Rather than putting in time and effort in the morning to scrape the ice off your windshield why not spend the time the day before to protect your windshield from getting ice on it in the first place?
A car windshield cover is one of the best ways to prevent ice on a windshield so you don”t have to clear it at all.
There are a variety of great car windshield covers available like this one at Amazon that you can quickly put over your windscreen when you park your car at the end of the day. They don't take a lot of time to apply and I can save you a lot of time in the morning.
This method saves time and helps prevent potential damage from scraping ice off with hand tools.
If you don't want to buy one then there are a variety of DIY windscreen frost covers that you can make that are basically free.
Towels, cardboard, blankets, plastic garbage bags or even t-shirts can all work to keep the snow and ice off your windscreen overnight.
Great for blocking the windshield from snow and ice accumulation. Made from heavy duty 600D vinyl it has a soft PVC inner layer to protect your windshield and is 100% waterproof.
Quick to install and pack away it's a universal fit that will suit most cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. Over 8,000 positive reviews and counting.
10. Potatoes and Onions
Did you know that not only can potatoes and onions be great additions to your favorite dish, but they can also get ice off your windscreen quickly or prevent it from forming in the first place?
Simply slicing the potato in half and rubbing it across the frozen glass can create a barrier that prevents ice from spreading. How does this work?
The sugar in the potato makes a thin film on the windshield that stops water molecules from bonding and forming into larger ice chunks.
And although you may want to try using onion instead, its high acidity could potentially damage car paint. So next time you're standing outside scraping away at that sheet of ice, try reaching for a potato first. It just might save you some time and effort.