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Winter Windshield Tips

Learn how to properly remove snow and ice without damaging glass.

winter windshield

We’ve all been there – rushing out the door on a frigid morning only to find your car covered in snow and ice, then having to spend what seems like an eternity scraping your windshield off while waiting for the car to warm up.

While snow and ice are inevitable, such difficult mornings are anything but. There are several methods of quickly and efficiently removing snow and ice from your car – without damaging it – to keep you out of the cold and back on the road.

How to properly defrost your windshield

To get rid of the layer of frost on your windshield, you’ll first want to make sure your car has warmed up. A cold engine won’t produce the warm air you’ll need. Once you’re operating at the proper temperature, set the climate control to full defrost rather than bi-level. However, you don’t want to put the defroster on full blast right away. The drastic change in temperature can cause any small chips in the glass to crack even further. It’s best to allow the windshield to warm up gradually.

Make sure to set the defroster so that it’s utilizing fresh air, not re-circulated air. This air is likely drier and can absorb moisture better than the humid air in your car.

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How can you remove snow from your windshield without damaging it?

If you’re not careful, or if you’re using the wrong tools, you can easily scratch or otherwise damage the glass when trying to remove snow from your windshield.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, you will want to use a long-handled household broom or a specialty snow broom specifically made to be used on cars (sometimes called a snow rake). Standing on one side of the vehicle, place the broom in the center of the windshield and push or pull the snow off the car. It’s important to do this before the snow turns to ice, which can be much more difficult and time-consuming to remove.

While you’re at it, remove the snow from the entire car – hood, roof, lights and license plates. Having snow fall off your vehicle while you’re driving can be a danger on the roadways.

winter windshield

What’s the best way to remove ice from the car?

If your vehicle door isn’t frozen shut and you’re able to get in, do so and start the car. This will allow the vehicle to warm up and the ice to begin to melt.

If you need to do more than just defrost the windshield to get rid of ice, make sure not to use sharp-edged tools – and never use a shovel. A strong plastic ice scraper will do just fine. Wait until the car starts to heat up and lightly thaws, then gently tap on the ice with the snow broom to loosen it up and push it off.

You can also use a de-icer spray on the windshield. These can be easily made at home in one of two ways. First, you can mix two-thirds rubbing alcohol and one-third water in a spray bottle. The second method is to combine several spoonfuls of table or road salt and water. Both can be made ahead of time and kept in a spray bottle in your car during winter months.

You do need to be careful to make sure these solutions are only used on the glass. The rubbing alcohol can remove wax from your car’s paint while the salt water can corrode any metal on the vehicle.

Do I need to replace my windshield wipers?

It’s recommended that you swap out your windshield wipers before winter arrives. Old, dull wipers won’t be able to effectively clear snow and ice, and can also damage your windshield. You can purchase new, all-weather wiper blades online or at your nearest auto parts store.

Get more car safety tips. 

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Comments
    • Sounds messy! I’d use RainX rain repellent, it makes it harder for the snow/ice to “adhere” to the windshield and thus easier to remover. Windshield covers or an old blanket/tarp are also good options (mentioned in comments below)

      Reply
  • Horner F.

    On my truck which remains outside I have a windshield cover with magnets. It is made of water resistant nylon fabric and has a weighted flap that goes inside each front door to keep it in place. They are inexpensive and makes it easier to remove snow and ice. Below is one example

    Reply
      • Dorothy S.

        i have two of these one for me and one for my husband’s van. I bought them two years ago from QVC. they are very good and do the job to keep the snow and ice off your windshield.

        Reply
  • You should put your Wipers up off the glass so it won’t Freeze on your Windshield & if they are frozen to windshield DO NOT turn your Wipers on it will Brake your wiper Transmission & it will Cost a lot of $$ to replace it all ways Make Sure your Wipers are not Frozen to your WINDSHIELD unless you have allot of $ $ $ $ Think First !!!!

    Reply
    • Richard M.

      Not necessarily. See the article elsewhere on this site, “Should You Leave Your Windshield Wipers Up in the Snow?”

      Reply
  • I changed order of sentences. Hate caveats at end which negate the whole process: eg: To get rid of the layer of frost on your windshield, you’ll first want to make sure your car has warmed up. A cold engine won’t produce the warm air you’ll need. However, you don’t want to put the defroster on full blast right away. The drastic change in temperature can cause any small chips in the glass to crack even further. It’s best to allow the windshield to warm up gradually. Once you’re operating at the proper temperature, set the climate control to full defrost rather than bi-level.

    Reply
  • I found that using Preston de-icer windshield washer fluid is the very best way to remove ice from your windshield. Clear off the snow first and the area where the washer fluid sprays comes out. This de-icer fluid removes thick and thin layers of ice really quick and you will do less scraping thus Illuminating the danger Of damaging your windshield and it will not re-freeze on your windshield, and protects your windshield from freezing I use this stuff year round and it is also good in the summer time, it’s the all time best

    Reply
    • Don’t leave the de-icer spray cans in your car. Tried to use mine that I left in the car and they are no good. They don’t spray! So now I have to through them away even
      though there is still fluid in the cans.

      Reply
  • When I know there is a significant snow coming I cover the roof and windows with a tarp and hold it down with bungy cords.

    Reply
  • I have a friend who puts socks on her windshield wipers and that helps keep them from freezing to the glass.

    Reply
  • I have used a the same windshield cover for 31 years. Anything other than a snow broom or credit card will create micro cracks on your windshield which will make driving in sun glare worse. cleaning the windshield with a weak vinegar solution prevents ice adhesion. You can prespray your windshield with deicer spray.. Anything other than a windshield cover is wasting time, energy, and money.

    Reply
  • Marion V.

    If you put defroster on full blast at same time as you start car, the windshield will warm up gradually, as the car engine warms. I’m curious to know of any vehicle that is able to blow warm air immediately upon starting.

    Reply

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