How to Prevent Ice on a Windshield (6 Techniques)

One of the biggest challenges of driving a car during the winter months is keeping the windshield clear to see out of. Fortunately, when you know how to prevent ice on your windshield you’ll never have to scrape again. Find out the secret down below. 

The most effective way to prevent ice on a windshield is to cover it completely. Place a towel, bathroom mat, or windshield cover over top and remove it in the morning to take off any ice. Alternatively, you can spray with a vinegar or rubbing alcohol solution to melt ice and prevent buildup

Covering your windshield is the simplest way to prevent buildup of ice on the windshield. It isn’t the only method though. There are things you can do even when you don't have a cover to keep your windshield clear. 

Learn about clever spray solutions, and how you can utilize simple root vegetables to protect your windshield in ways you have probably never considered. 

Never Use Hot Water

Illustration of a person in a green jacket pouring boiling water out of a red kettle onto a car's icy windshield. The windshield is cracked and broken and steam is rising up.

While it seems like an obvious solution to douse your vehicle with hot water to remove ice, experts say this is a bad idea. Hot water can do serious damage to the frozen glass.

If you've ever had boiling water in a glass and then poured cold water into it you might remember that the glass can shatter from the sudden change in temperature. The same is true with your windsheild.

Going from freezing temperatures to extremely hot temperatures can cause your windshield to crack and this can be extremely expensive to fix. 

While hot water will remove any ice present, you’ll have cracked windows to deal with instead. 

Instead of using hot water to remove ice from your windshield try one of the proven methods below to actually prevent ice on your windshield in the first place. You’ll be able to see out of your windshield just fine and you'll also preserve the glass on your vehicle. 

Why Does Ice Form On Your Windshield In The First Place?

Understanding how and why ice forms on your windshield in the first place can help you choose the right solution for your car based on the circumstances and weather you face.

The main reason ice forms on your windshield is that (usually overnight) the windshield glass drops below the freezing temperature of water.

This means that water vapor in the air will condense on your windscreen and turn to ice. Much like how a cold glass of water gets condensation on the outside of it during a warm day – but in this case the condensation actually freezes to the glass.

It doesn't have to snow for this to happen either, it just has to be cold enough outside.

1. Fully Cover the Windshield 

White car parked on an icy street with a grey windshield cover completely covering the windshield

One of the best and easiest solutions to stop an icy windshield is to apply a cover to the glass the night before. There are special car covers available (at Amazon) you can quickly add to your vehicle for complete protection. 

These care covers an extremely affordable and will only set you back around $20-$50 depending on which one you buy. Given the price of fuel these days you'll likely save that money in fuel costs from not having to heat your windshield for 10-15 minutes before you drive.

By applying a windshield cover you stop the water vapor in the air from coming into contact with the windshield so it has no chance to form ice. It will also stop snow landing directly on your windscreen as well.

If you don’t own a protective cover, you can rely on objects you have around your house. A towel makes a good quick windshield cover. You can rubber band ziplock bags over your side mirrors, and even cardboard makes effective protection for your windshield. 

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OxGord Windshield Snow & Ice Cover
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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.

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11/26/2022 11:28 am GMT

2. Fully Cover the Car

Car parked in driveway on sunny day with a silver car cover completely covering the car

The downside to a car windshield cover is that it will only protect your front windscreen and maybe side mirrors from ice. However, your side windows and rear window will still be completely iced over.

A full car cover will stop ice on all windows and your side mirrors as well. Ideally you want a tight fitting car cover so it doesn't blow too much in a storm and to minimize airflow under the cover which can lead to some ice buildup on your windscreen.

These are a little more expensive than just a windshield cover and take a little more effort to apply, but they work great to prevent ice on all your windows.

SEAZEN 6 Layers Hatchback Car Cover (Length Up to 177")
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A full car cover with driver door zip for easy access and elastic bands and windproof straps protect your car in heavy winds and storms. Features reflective strips, side mirror covers and made from a durable 6 layer material of aluminum, PE and spunlaced cloth.

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11/26/2022 12:23 pm GMT

3. Spray with a Vinegar Solution

Base of a clear spray bottle with clear liquid inside. Words vinegar written with sharpie on it.

Create a solution made from three parts of white vinegar and one part of water and pour it into a spray bottle. With your new solution prepared, spray it all over your windshield before you go to bed for the night. 

It’s a simple preventative solution that will leave you with a clear windshield in the morning. 

The vinegar-based solution will coat your windshield and stop ice from forming on the windshield. Vinegar melts ice on your windscreen because it lowers the freezing point of ice to around 28ºF (-2ºC).

This means if temperatures drop too low then this solution won't work because ice will still be able to form. However, if temperature are at or near freezing then it can work well or will help you at least melt the ice faster when it's time to drive.

Keep this solution available all winter and you’ll have a simple way to prevent ice buildup. Be sure to shake the solution each time before you use it to mix the two liquids together. If you're storing the solution in your car use these techniques to stop liquids freezing in your car.

Vinegar is quite acidic so you want to make sure you just apply this solution to the glass itself and not the melt of your car (or windscreen wipers) and wash it off as soon as you can to prevent corrosion.

4. Apply a Rubbing Alcohol Based Solution

Mix together a de-icing solution that includes two parts rubbing alcohol to one part water. Put the solution in a spray bottle and coat your windshield completely before you go to bed. 

This solution will prevent ice from forming on your windshield during the night. It works in the same way as vinegar by lowering the freezing temperature of water and stopping it from freezing to your windshield.

Be sure to use the proper ratio of rubbing alcohol and water to create a solution that won’t freeze. The more alcohol you use the better this will work so you may need to adjust your ratio based on how cold external temperatures are.

When created properly the alcohol solution can be used to remove existing ice as well. You can also rely on Vodka or another strong clear alcohol in place of rubbing alcohol. 

5. Utilize Salt Water (Can Be Risky)

Along with rubbing alcohol or vinegar, salt also works to keep your windows from freezing. We all know that salt is used on roads to melt ice and to keep the roads and sidewalks safe. This is because salt causes freezing point depression and stops ice from forming.

You can dissolve salt into water and apply it to your windshield in the same way we talked about above. The salty mixture keeps your windows from freezing and can be more effective than vinegar and alcohol.

However, this is less ideal than the other two solutions because salt water leads to corrosion. It works, but it can be at a great cost to the longevity of your vehicle.

Avoid this trick in favor of vinegar or rubbing alcohol for safer protection. 

6. Use the Onion or Potato Trick

Onions and potatoes both have sugars and oils in them that help prevent ice from sticking. Like salt, sugar also prevents ice from forming (just not as well) and the oils you quickly and easily remove any ice that does form.

Slice an onion or potato in half lengthwise and rub the center of the vegetable to coat your windshield with oils. 

Doing this before an ice storm helps the ice slide off with ease. In the morning you can push the ice right off. You may need to use a few potato or onion halves to fully coat your windshield, so bring multiple pieces out. 

7. Park in a Garage

The most obvious method for preventing ice on your windshield is also the most effective. Park your ride in a garage if you can and you can stop worrying about ice completely. 

If you don’t have access to a garage, a carport is another option worth considering – however, ice can still form due to the condensation we talked about earlier. So you may still need a windshield cover if you park in a carport.

At the very least, invest in a cover for your car to protect it from weathering. 

Remove the Ice Fast in the Morning

If you forget to use one of the methods listed above, you still have options available to you. Forget about scraping away the ice. Instead, use one of these simple solutions to remove the ice. 

  • Spray the rubbing alcohol solution on the ice on your windshield in the morning. Once you coat the ice enough it will break up and come off. 
  • You can also get a commercial windshield deicer liquid to spray on your windshield in the morning. Purchase this special solution and use it on your windshield as well as your side mirrors and windows to clear the ice. 
  • Add a deicer to your windshield washing fluid reservoir and then spray the windshield with the spray in the morning. Between the special liquid and your wipers, you can remove the ice rapidly. 
  • You can also add rubbing alcohol into standard washing fluid to make it into a de-icer. 
  • Consider facing your vehicle east when you park for the night. The rising sun will help melt away any accumulated ice on the windshield. 

Summary

By spending a moment or two the night before, you can avoid fighting with ice in the morning. Follow these simple steps to prevent ice from clinging to your car’s windshield for a smooth morning routine. 

If you must remove from your windshield fast, utilize our simple tips to help you do so without all the scraping and fighting that comes with using a basic ice scraper to do the job.