Frost and ice-covered windshields are one of the most irritating parts of winter. Instead of spending time in the morning scraping your windshield in the cold you can use a standard towel on a windshield to prevent frost in the first place.
When you understand the towel trick you’ll save yourself hours of scraping and effort over the course of a winter. It'll get you on the road faster and with a lot less fuss.
You can use a towel on your windshield to prevent frost by fully covering the windshield and locking it in place with the windshield wipers and by shutting the doors over the sides of the towel. Choose a dry towel with short fibers to prevent sticking. Consider using cardboard or floor mats in place of towels to keep frost and ice away.
This tip seems simple, but towels only work in certain situations and it’s important to use the correct types of towel and to apply them properly for the best results.
Learn how to skip scraping and waiting ages while warming your frosty windshield each winter morning with help from a towel, and find out about alternative ways to keep frost away below.
Towels May Not Work in Extreme Temperatures
Towels work great to prevent frost on your windshield in moderately cold temperatures.
Ice forms on your windshield where your windshield reaches sub-freezing temperatures and water vapor from the air condenses into ice on the glass. It can also occur from snow melting and re-freezing onto your windshield.
Towels work by creating a barrier between the air and your windshield. If air can't get to your windshield then the water vapor cannot freeze onto it and this is how a towel works to prevent frost. It's very similar to a regular ice windscreen cover.
It’s important to note that layering a towel over your windshield may not prevent frost and ice from accumulating on your windshield in extremely cold temperatures.
Most users enjoy a clean windshield when protecting their vehicle with a dry towel in temperatures greater than 15ºF (-10ºC). While it will still help reduce frost in temperatures below this you may still experience some frost on your windshield, especially if there is a storm or there has been a lot of snow.
A towel also won’t work well if temperatures are warm enough for it to rain. The towel must remain dry for it to offer reliable protection.
This is because if the towel gets wet and then overnight it freezes then the moisture from the towel can freeze onto your windscreen and you'll still need to scrape or melt this off.
Step 1 – Choose the Proper Towel
Before you can protect your windshield from ice and frost you must select a towel that will work well.
The towel must be large enough to fully cover your windshield.
It should also have short fibers that won’t stick. A super fluffy thick bath towel with long fibers won't work as well as a hard crusty towel with shorter fibers.
Beach towels often work well for this task. Avoid shaggy towels for best results.
Step 2 – Lift Your Windshield Wipers
Raise each of your windshield wipers up and out of the way to create a clear space for your towel to lay. Position the wipers so they are vertical coming up and away from your windshield.
Step 3 – Position the Towel
Carefully place the towel horizontally across your entire windshield. Set the towel so that it covers each surface of the windshield properly.
If the towel is too high or low, or to one side you’ll leave part of your windshield exposed to the frost.
NOTE: If the towel is not big enough to cover your entire window that's ok. Place the towel over the drivers side of the windscreen as this is the most important region for visibillity.
Step 4 – Secure the Windshield Wipers
Return the vertical windshield wipers to their original position to lock your towel in position. Your towel should now be held in position against mild wind.
Consider wrapping your wipers using plastic bags and rubber bands to prevent them from accumulating ice overnight.
Step 5 – Secure Edges Of The Towel By Closing It In Your Doors
If you expect their to be high winds then you may want to take the added step of securing the towel with the doors of your car.
Open the front passenger doors and allow the towel to overlap the windscreen and fall into the car. Then close the doors so a small part of the towel is now inside the car and the doors hold the towel in place.
NOTE: You may not want to do this if you expect heavy rain. This is because water can soak through the car and into your towel.
Step 6 – Remove the Towel
Wait until the following morning before you remove your towel. Carefully lift the wipers out of the way and then peel your towel off the windshield. As long as temperatures didn’t fall too low your windshield should be clear with the towel removed.
NOTE: If temperatures are still below freezing then your windscreen may begin to accumulate frost from the air. You'll still want to warm the windscreen with your car to prevent future buildup, but at least you won't have to scrape off frost before you begin driving.
Use Cardboard or a Windshield Cover Instead
Using a towel is one of the most convenient ways to prevent frost from forming on your vehicle’s windshield, but it’s not the only way.
You can just as easily lay a sheet of cardboard over your window instead.
Use the windshield wipers to secure a thick sheet of cardboard and you’ll stop frost effectively.
You can also buy windshield covers at Amazon specifically designed to prevent ice buildup. These cover your entire windscreen and often your rear view mirrors too and will work even better than a towel would.
They also won't break the bank. At around $30 or so they are well worth the investment.
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.
Apply a Special Coating to Your Windshield to Prevent Ice
Covering your windshield is the most reliable way to prevent frost from sticking and causing trouble, but it’s not the only option. You can also apply substances that leave a coating on your windshield that prevents frost.
Spray a vinegar and water mixture made from three parts of white vinegar and one part water over your windshield and ice won’t form for many hours after.
You can slice an onion or potato in half and rub the cut end of the vegetables on your windshield to leave behind oil that prevents frost from sticking as well. See my full list of the best ways to prevent ice buildup on your windshield.
Between these simple methods, you have even more options for protecting against frost.
Can I Put a Blanket On My Windshield To Keep Ice Off?
While a towel can be a good way to prevent frost you might not have a towel large enough to cover your entire windscreen. Instead, can you put a blanket on your windshield to keep ice off it?
Scraping ice off windows is time-consuming and it’s something that can be skipped with the right preparation.
By placing a blanket over your windshield and locking it down with your windshield wipers and doors you can keep ice off and stop frost from forming. This only works if the moisture doesn’t go through the blanket to the windshield below. Waterproof blankets and blankets with thinner fibers tend to work better and are easier to work with.
A blanket is one of many coverage options that are available for protecting your windshield against ice and frost. Once removed you can easily wash the blanket off, and you won’t have to scrape your windshield before leaving.
The Yeti Lowlands blanket is large and waterproof. It can be used to cover your windshield in winter but also great for summer adventures or even winter picnics. Check out my full Yeti Lowlands Blanket review.
Durable and waterproof on the outside this blanket is padded and insulated on the inside. Features a waterproof layer to stop moisture from the ground seeping through but yet extremely soft to touch.
Machine washable and shakes off pet hair easily this is one of the best picnic blankets on the market. Measures 55"x78" and packs up small in its included bag.
Does Putting a Towel On Your Windscreen Stop Frost?
While not as difficult to deal with as ice, frost still makes it difficult to see through a windscreen. If you park your vehicle outdoors you’ll often find frost that must be scraped off your windscreen before you can safely drive.
Learn how you can prevent the issue by keeping an extra towel stashed in your vehicle.
Putting a towel on your windscreen will normally prevent frost from adhering to the glass. While frost will still gather on the vehicle’s other surfaces, the windscreen will remain clear making it easy to drive without extensive cleaning. Towels work most effectively at preventing frost in temperatures above 15ºF/-10ºC.
By keeping a towel in your vehicle you’ll have a fast way to protect your windscreen no matter where you are.
Consider stashing a towel in your vehicle for the winter months and you’ll be able to skip scraping your windscreen in the morning.
While using a towel on your windshield to prevent frost is a simple and fast way to keep your car windows clean in winter, it’s only an option if you prepare before the cold weather.
To make the most of this method, or any preventative measures protect your vehicle at night before you go to sleep.
By taking a moment to cover your windshield and wrap your windshield wipers you’ll prevent long cold mornings scraping your windshield.