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02 Aug 2021
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

How to de-ice your car windscreen properly


Scraping ice off a car windscreen

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

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When Jack Frost comes out to play, everything freezes over. Including your windscreen. It's just one of the many perils of driving in winter.

Some people might reach for the kettle or their bank card to de-ice their car. But these methods could lead to a cracked windscreen or even a fine. 

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

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 drop 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 similar to how water vapour becomes condensation when it hits a cold surface.

Step-by-step de-icing checklist

Check your windscreen wipers

Make sure your wipers aren’t switched on - if they’re frozen to the windscreen they could be damaged when the engine starts.


Switch on your ignition and crank the heat up

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. 


Use a de-icer and ice scraper

It's always handy to keep a can of de-icer for the car 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 too.

But if you want to be even greener, a homemade de-icer might be better for you.

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

You might 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 on Amazon


Get rid of any condensation

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

De-icing techniques to avoid

When you're 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 scratch your windscreen.

But more serious is the possibility of a £60 fine and three points on your licence. This is the penalty for driving with a limited view of the road.

And with points on your licence, you might find that your car insurance costs go up when it comes to renew your policy.

So it’s best to stay on the right side of the law and 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 crack your 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 too long. Having an idle engine could land you with a £20 fine.

And if you're on your own, common sense says to not leave your car unattended while it's running.


Is de-icer spray bad for your car? 

Car de-icer sprays are safe to use on your car. While you should take care to ensure it only goes on glass, it shouldn't damage your car’s paintwork.

That said, the combination of chemicals in modern car de-icer sprays tend to be bad for the environment. But it’s easy to make your own.

How to make your own homemade de-icer

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 with an old towel.

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

Water and vinegar

If you don’t want to use salt, one part water to three parts vinegar should 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 should make short work of the frost. This makes them perfect for de-icing.


How to keep car windows from freezing overnight

If you don’t have time to de-ice your car in the mornings or hate all the scraping, it may make sense to invest in a windscreen frost cover.

Alternatively, if you dread the thought of a frozen car you could consider a full car cover to protect all the windows and the bodywork too.

For more tips, check out our guide on winter motor maintenance.


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