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Clearing a Frosted Windshield

What are some tips and tricks to clearing a frosted or iced covered windshield?

Our local news stated you can spray a frosted window with a solution of 1/3 water and 2/3 isopropyl alcohol to help clear it faster. I’ve also heard using vinegar works. Are either of these true, is one better than the other, and are either of these harmful to the car in any way? What other options are there besides the ol’ ice scraper?

Here is the link I found from WATE in Knoxville, TN: Still not sure about this and potential damage to paint, coatings and rubber parts like seals and wipers.

Teakettle of warm water will do they trick 'but you may crack your windshield ,so it probably isnt a good idea . They best way is to either cover your windshield at night or keep the vehicle under cover. During an icing event ,keep the windshield wipers clear of the windshield if possible ,they will usually park clear of the windshield if you pull them away from the windshield .

If it is not too cold, using the washer fluid works, otherwise a scraper with a brass blade is all I have ever needed,

My neighbor in Alaska used the warm water trick until the windshield wound up in her interior. I warned her just days before.

“Our local news stated you can spray a frosted window with a solution of 1/3 water and 2/3 isopropyl alcohol to help clear it faster.”

When I worked for a while at a small airport we used this solution and applied it to airplane wings to deice/defrost them and also to prevent its formation. Frost on the top surface of an airfoil disrupts air flow and lift, very dangerous.

Since we only did wings and elevators/stabilators and not windows, we were able to use fairly hot water, sprayed from 5 gallon hand-pump-pressurized “garden sprayers”. It worked quit well. The warm water probably did much of the melting and the isopropyl alcohol kept it from refreezing. Rubber gloves are highly recommended.


Instead of trying old wives tricks, try an ice scraper. Works great, is fast, and is dirt-cheap. I’ve been using them for 48+ years.

I don’t like the idea of thermal-shocking the windshield. You may have a chip that you don’t even realize is there, and they can propagate all over the windshield in a second’s time if hit with warm or hot water when they’re below freezing.

My Wife And Daughter Use The Remote-Start Button On Their FOBs And It Works Really Well. It Makes For Good All-Around Visibility And The Driver Is Less-Stressed, A Good Thing.

My son parks the 4runner outside…and he bought this

It works real well. There are also deicer windshield fluids.

During one really bad ice storm we had ( that stuff was really thick ) I slowly poured cold tap water on the windshield and door handles and it softened the ice enough to help. As for warm or hot water-No

I either use the ice scrapper or run out 5-10 minutes before I leave and start the car. Be sure to check and see if the wipers are frozen to the windshield; I had to replace a wiper arm after I turned on wipers that were frozen to the windshield and stripped the connection - not hard to replace, but a pain when it’s 10 deg F outside.
The only “magic potion” I would even consider would be washer fluid. Vinegar smells and isopropanol is a solvent and I’d rather not risk degrading any seals, paint, or adhesives.

Yep, in Minnesota its either garage, cover the windshield, start the car and let the defrosters do what they do best, or just scrape. Vinegar is an acid and not good for paint. I think alcohol would also strip the wax. That device shown is similar to what our local vo-tec did as a sample tool and die project, except it was flat like a saucer. They gave them out free to people touring and it worked pretty good. After 30 years no idea where it is but I park in a garage.

Another person who thinks that vinegar might be good for defrosting a windshield?

Yes, vinegar is good for cleaning glass, as a result of its mild acidic (typically 5%) nature, but to conflate glass cleaning into glass defrosting? Ummmm…no.

Since white vinegar is typically 95% water, I have to ask the OP…
Do you think it is logical in any way to believe that something that is mostly composed of water would be good for defrosting your windshield?

There is some logic to it. Typically, something added to water will lower the freezing/melting pt of the combined solution. However, vinegar, at 95% water, added to ice, 100% water, wouldn’t help much. The isopropanol solution would be much more effective at melting just because it’s a much higher concentration.
I still wouldn’t pour a solvent or a stinky, mild acid on my car…

As I said in my original posting ,using hot water isnt a good idea ,but I have got by with it a time or two ,the differential stress within the glass ,caused by the thermal expansion could cause the windshield to crack or apparently can cause the things to basically disintergrate in some instances,I either put a mat or piece of carpet on the windshield, most of the time I use the carport.Knock on wood ,I havent ruined the wifes Hondas yet ,She used to work Homehealth and I didnt have time to scrape or wait for the defroster to soften the ice .But only as an emergency measure.
In case you are wondering ,I only have a one bay carport(I payed for with savings ) and used to be on call to push snow ,so my truck usually lived under the roof .

When I lived at a fairly high altitude in a snow and ice climate I’d start the engine, let it idle to warm up, and put the hvac on max defrost and wait 3 or 4 minutes for the windshield to heat up a little from the inside. Then I’d scrape the ice off with a long handled plastic scraper. That’s what worked best for me.

One time my dad decided to automate his truck. So he put an electric heater in the cab, on a timer, the idea to blow hot air at the wind shield so it would be all melted by the time he was ready to go. He only did that one time.

I find that if I use Rain-X on the windshield before ice or frost is expected, it scrapes off very easily. But ice and frost tend to etch away the Rain-X, so you have to reapply it before each ice/frost event for it to be effective.

Edit: if you are going to use any deicers, I’d also suggest that you put a coat of a good crosslinked polymer wax on your paint before the bad weather sets it. I prefer Meguires Ultimate Wax because it really resists chemicals.

If the ice on the windshield is 1/4 inch thick or better and the temp is 15 F or below the ice just laughs at a scraper. Now that I am fully retired I can wait for the car to warm up to loosen it but during the 15 years I drove a school bus after I retired from trucking, sometimes there wasn’t time to mess around and a 5 gallon pail of hot water quickly did the trick. Never cracked a window but If it cracked , well that is what I have full glass coverage for.
I don’t know how a windshield could wind up in someones lap. it is not tempered glass like the side and back windows, it is a glass sandwich with a layer of adhesive in between.
That ice scraper Mike in NH posted looks neat, just bought it.

This one’s my favorite. :smiley:


Deicing fluid on a rag would work too. Gloves or guts will help.