The northern states can experience up to six months of frosty weather. The temperature gets downright bone-chilling. It’s particularly hard on your car, and even more so when you’re stuck parking outside. Your car can have trouble turning over and you could be hard-pressed to find traction with even the best all-season tires.
Though southern and coastal states may not get subzero temperatures, most places still have to contend with chilly nights. Anytime temperatures get close to the freezing point, you could wake up in the morning with ice on your windshield.
Cleaning ice from your windshield is time-consuming and unpleasant. Your fingertips can get numb quickly, or you might not have the right tools in your car for an unexpected frost. But you still need to use your car and get to your destination, so you have to find a way to de-ice your windshield.
Here are a few easy methods to de-ice your windshield, from light frost to thick ice and snow.
Method 1 of 4: Scrape frost with a credit card
When you haven’t equipped your car with winter supplies yet, cleaning just a light coating of frost is still a pain. You can clear ice from your windshield with something you have in your pocket: your credit card.
- Credit card
Step 1: Start your engine. Get your engine running so the interior starts to warm up.
Not only will it begin to take the chill out of your interior for a more comfortable ride, but setting the heater to the defrost setting can start to soften the ice on your windshield.
Step 2: Scrape the windshield with an old or lesser-used credit card. There’s a chance you can break your card while scraping the windshield, so don’t use your go-to credit card.
Position the credit card at an angle to the windshield, roughly 30 degrees. Use your thumb to get a slight bend in the card along its length. This increases the rigidity, hopefully preventing your card from snapping.
Scrape the viewing area of your windshield with small strokes. Work from the bottom up as the defroster will start softening the lower area of the glass first.
- Tip: Use an old sock to cover your hand if you don’t have mitts.The ice flakes coming off the windshield can be quite cold on your bare skin.
Method 2 of 4: Spray your windshield with a de-icer spray
You can quickly thaw a light coating of ice on your windshield or soften a thick ice coating with a de-icer spray. You can buy a de-icer spray online or you can make your own de-icer fluid at home by mixing three parts vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle. Another option is to mix a bottle of rubbing alcohol with three drops of dish soap in your spray bottle.
Step 1: Start your car. Get the defroster working so the de-icer spray works more quickly.
Step 2: Spray the windshield with your de-icer spray. It works on thin and thick layers of ice.
If the ice is thin, lightly coat the entire surface with de-icer spray. If the ice is thick or coated with a layer of snow, scrape a few lines in the ice down to the glass, then spray the entire icy surface with de-icer.
Step 3: Wait 15 to 30 seconds. The ice is softening, which takes only a short time.
Step 4: Scrape or wipe the windshield off. Use your gloved hand or a snow brush on heavier ice or just your windshield wipers if the ice was thin.
The softened ice will wipe right off the windshield glass.
Method 3 of 4: Douse your windshield with warm water
Warm water can melt the ice right off your windshield glass. All you need is a bucket of at least a gallon in capacity, filled with warm water. Be careful, though, as boiling water or water too hot to touch can cause your windshield to crack because of rapid expansion.
Step 1: Fill your bucket with warm water. You should be able to put your hand in the water without scalding your skin.
Step 2: Pour the water over your frozen windshield. Methodically pour the water from the top of the windshield down.
The warm water will soften and melt the ice as it runs down. You’ll notice the ice turn from white and hard to slushy and transparent.
Step 3: Wipe the ice off the windshield. If the ice isn’t completely melted, a quick wipe with your windshield wipers or a gloved hand will get the ice cleared off your windshield.
Method 4 of 4: Removing ice from the inside of your windshield
- Credit card
- Microfiber cloth
Sometimes, ice forms on the inside of the windshield because of moisture inside the car. It’s a little tricky to remove, but resist the urge to use your windshield scraper on the it. You can permanently scratch the glass, making visibility difficult.
Step 1: Use the credit card method to remove the ice. The only problem here is that you’ll leave ice chips all over your dash.
Use the same technique as in Method 1. You’ll have to contort your arm and hand to get into all the corners.
Step 2: Use a de-icer spray on the inside of your windshield. You’ll need a microfiber cloth to get it on without making a mess.
Spray your de-icer spray on the cloth, being careful not to breathe it in if it’s labeled as toxic. Before it evaporates, wipe the windshield on the inside. The frost or ice will soften and come off on the cloth.
Whatever method you choose, remove ice from the windshield before trying to drive your car. Operating your vehicle with an obstructed view can net you a traffic ticket or cause an accident. If, in the process of removing the ice, you notice that your windshield wipers are not functioning correctly, be sure to have one of YourMechanic’s certified technicians perform a replacement.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Get Ice Off Your Windshield and was authored by Jason Unrau.