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How to defrost a windshield without damaging it

Woman defrosting car windshield
Woman defrosting car windshield (Image credit: Shutterstock)

With freezing temperatures outside, you’ll need to know how to defrost your car windshield without damaging it. 

Tackling a frosted windshield first thing in the morning is probably one of the most dreaded tasks. After all, it takes precious time out of your day, not to mention the inconvenience of standing outside in the bitter cold.

Despite our impatience, taking the time to know how to defrost your windshield is far more efficient (and cost effective) during the winter months. If not done properly, this could cause cracks or further damage to your window. 

So, to avoid this, here are some simple tips on how to defrost a windshield without damaging it, and make your mornings less of a chore.

Max heating

Max heating (Image credit: Shutterstock)

1. First, get into your vehicle and start your car engine. Turn on your heater to the ‘defrost’ setting or maximum setting if you don't have one. Leave it to run for about 5-15 minutes to warm up before you start the process. Similarly, turn on the air con as it will remove moisture from the air to prevent the car misting up. 

2. If you have excess frost or snow build-up on the windshield, sweep off the snow with a soft brush. While it may seem logical to do, never pour hot or warm water over your windshield to remove ice. Going from extreme temperatures from cold to hot, can crack or damage to your windshield.

Spraying Deicer

Spraying Deicer (Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. Next, use a de-icer spray over your windshield. You can make a DIY de-icer from a few household items. Simply mix three parts of white vinegar to one part water into a spray bottle, and mist over the windshield. This will quickly help to loosen the frost and make it easier to remove.  

Alternatively, you can try a ⅓ cup of water and ⅔ cup of isopropyl rubbing alcohol. The science behind this is isopropyl doesn’t freeze until it reaches 128°F below 0, so it puts in the work at colder temperatures. Of course, you can always buy a good de-icer online such as Melt It! Windshield De-icer for $22.99 at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Plastic ice scraper

Plastic ice scraper (Image credit: Shutterstock)

5. Use a sturdy plastic ice-scraper to remove any ice patches off your windshield. It’s advisable to choose a scraper with a soft brush on one end, to help loosen and break apart the frost. Never use a metal scraper, keys or any other metal object that will scratch or damage the glass.

6. Once this is done, wait inside your car until all the ice and mist has gone before driving. It’s important that you have clear visibility before setting off on your journey. 

If you're going to take the car our in the cold, do check out our guide on how to drive in the snow

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 


Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.


With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!