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20 Jan 2020
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

How to de-ice your car properly

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Woman scraping ice off a car window with an ice scraper.

No more portholes! Avoid a fine with these top tips for de-icing your car during the cold snap.

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In a rush? Jump down to our step-by-step de-icing checklist.

When Jack Frost comes out to play, everything freezes over. Including your windscreen.

Some people will reach for the kettle or their bank card to solve the problem. But these methods could lead to a cracked windscreen or even a fine. Knowing how to get your windows defrosted fast can be a bit of a head scratcher.

Don’t worry. Simple cupboard staples can keep your windscreen frost-free. And you won’t have to use that half-frozen bank card to pay off a fine.

READ MORE: How to stop condensation in your car

Why does my windscreen ice up?

As the temperature drops below freezing, water vapour in the air becomes super-cooled. This causes frost and ice.

But the temperature doesn’t have to go below freezing for your windscreen and windows to freeze over.

The glass of your car's windows freeze over much quicker than any other surface of the car.

This is like how water vapour becomes condensation when it hits a cold surface.

READ MORE: How to drive safely in wet weather

Step-by-step de-icing checklist

  1. Switch on your ignition and crank the heat up

  2. Turn your blowers to full and the temperature to high. Point them at the windscreen - if you have a heated windscreen option, switch it on.

    Switch on the A/C if you have it to keep the air dry. 

  3. Use a de-icer and ice scraper

  4. It's always handy to keep a can of de-icer spray nearby. If you've run out, you can make your own DIY de-icer at home - see below for our top tips.

    If you're concerned about the environment, there are eco-friendly de-icers available. But if you want to be even greener, a homemade de-icer might be better for you.

    Then go to town on the ice using your scraper. You can even get ice scrapers with an attached mitt to keep your hands toasty.

    You may need to scrape some ice off the inside of the windscreen, but this can be trickier due to the curved glass.

    Check prices for de-icing products 

  5. Get rid of any condensation

  6. All that hot air blowing at a cold windscreen might lead to condensation on the inside of the car. We've got you covered there too - here's how you get rid of condensation in the car.

Woman sat in her car while there's ice on the windscreen and there's a porthole of clear glass

De-icing techniques to avoid

When rushing to get away in the morning, it’s easy to reach for the nearest sharp object and carve a porthole in the ice.

But using anything other than a car ice scraper could lead to a scratched windscreen.

But more serious is the possibility of a £60 fine and three points on your licence. This is the penalty for driving with limited vision. It's best to get that windscreen completely clear before setting off.

Using boiling water could also be disastrous. The shock of the extreme heat on the cold glass could lead to a cracked windscreen. And fixing that isn't going to be cheap.

If you switch your engine on to warm your car up, don't wander back into the house for longer than a few minutes. Having an idle engine could land you with a £20 fine.

READ MORE: How to drive safely in wet weather

DIY de-icer

If you’ve run out of de- icer or if you don’t want to fork out for it, here are some home remedies that can help.

  • Water and salt

  • You can make a solution using water and a teaspoon of salt. You can then use a misting spray bottle to spray it on the windscreen, or wipe it on using an old towel.

    Don't overuse it, though. Salt can damage the windscreen, as well as collect around the washer fluid nozzles. Avoid spraying the paintwork too, as salt can corrode the metal.

  • Water and vinegar

  • If you don’t want to use salt, one part water to three parts vinegar will work too. You can spray this mixture on the windscreen the night before as a preventative measure too.

  • Water and alcohol

  • A mixture of two parts alcohol or surgical spirit to one part water is also effective.

  • A soaked towel

  • You can soak a towel in the salt-water solution and place it on your windscreen and windows overnight. This acts as a preventative measure and should keep your windscreen frost-free. 

Because these solutions have low freezing points, they make short work of the frost. This makes them perfect for de-icing.

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