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05 Dec 2019
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

Are you de-icing your car wrong?


frozen windscreen

No more portholes! Avoid a fine with these top tips for de-icing your car this winter.

Winter has well and truly come, and it’s around this time of year that things begin to freeze over. Including your windscreen.

Most people will reach for the bank card to make a little porthole to see through, or even pour boiling water over the screen. But these methods could lead to a cracked windscreen or even a fine, so it can be confusing to know what works best.

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.

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READ MORE: How to stop condensation in your car

How does my windscreen ice up?

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

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

Because the windscreen and windows are made of glass, they freeze over much quicker than any other surface of the car.

This is similar to the way water vapour changes to condensation when it reaches the cold surface of your windscreen.

READ MORE: How to drive safely in wet weather

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.

However, 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 for driving with limited vision.

You could also risk a fine of £20 and three penalty points for leaving your car to defrost while the engine is idling. And if you’re out of the car while you’re doing this, it’ll be an easy target for thieves.

Using boiling water could be equally disastrous. The shock of the extreme heat on the cold glass could lead to a cracked windscreen.

READ MORE: How to drive safely in wet weather

de-icing your windscreen

Our top de-icing techniques

It’s relatively easy to get hold of some de-icer, a windscreen cover and a cheap ice scraper for your car. You can even get a scraper with a built in glove to keep your hands toasty. 

But if you’ve run out, or if you don’t want to fork out, there are some home remedies that can help.

Water and salt

A solution can be made using water and a teaspoon of salt. This can then be sprayed on using a misting spray bottle, or wiped on using an old towel.

This should be used sparingly though, as salt can damage the windscreen, as well as collect around the washer fluid nozzles. The paintwork should be avoided 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 just as well. As a preventative measure, you can spray this mixture on the windscreen night before you travel too.

Water and alcohol

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

A soaked towel

Alternatively, you can soak a towel in the salt-water solution and place it on your windscreen and windows overnight. This will act as a preventative measure and hopefully keep your windscreen frost-free. 

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

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de-icing your car

Other winter tips

  • Make sure you leave plenty of time to de-ice your car fully. About 10 minutes should do it.

  • Check your route. Try to keep to major roads that are more likely to have been gritted.

  • ‘Better late than never’ definitely applies. Drive to the conditions and take your time.


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