How to defrost your windshield: 10 steps (with pictures)

How to defrost your windshield: 10 steps (with pictures)
How to defrost your windshield: 10 steps (with pictures)

When winter arrives, with its procession of snow, sleet and frost, it is important when you get behind the wheel to drive in the best possible conditions. So, before even cranking the engine, you need to have a fully cleared windshield, rear window, and side windows to see well. Find out how to easily defrost the windows of a vehicle and prevent the formation of frost.


Part 1 of 2: Defrost a windshield

From ice Your Windshield Step 7

Step 1. Start your car and start the electric defrost

Depending on the thickness of the frost and the ambient temperature, allow a few minutes to a quarter of an hour.

  • Do not attempt to defrost your windshield by using water, whether cold or hot. This can cause thermal shock which will lead to the shattering of the windshield. If it's very cold, the water can even freeze almost instantly, which will make your task even more difficult.
  • Check that the exhaust pipe is not blocked by ice or snow. With an engine running, you risk fatal carbon monoxide poisoning!
  • If you must drive in a very cold region or in snowy weather, wait until the frost deposited on your windows has completely melted, at least a quarter of an hour.
From ice Your Windshield Step 1

Step 2. Spray with salt water

Salt has the particularity of melting snow or ice. A chemical reaction takes place which permanently melts the frost.

You can use cooking salt, but it is better, if you can recover it, to take this salt which is spread on the roads to melt snow or ice. This special salt has a chemical composition that makes it particularly effective

From ice Your Windshield Step 2

Step 3. Apply an alcohol based solution to defrost

In a spray bottle, prepare a mixture at the rate of one volume of alcohol (isopropyl or 90 °) for two volumes of water. Spray all the glass surfaces of your vehicle that need it.

  • You can also put a few drops of dish soap in this solution. The principle is the same as for salt: the fact of introducing a product (alcohol, dishwashing liquid) into the water lowers the icing point. Thus, even if the frost sets, it is thinner and therefore easier to remove. The use of hot water is more questionable. Certainly, the frost melts, but it reform quickly if the temperatures are low.
  • Unlike the saline solution which is corrosive, you can spray the surfaces extensively with the alcohol solution.
From ice Your Windshield Step 3

Step 4. Look to another method

If these solutions do not give any tangible results, you can always resort to commercial products. Overall they are effective, but a bit expensive.

Thus, in France, we find the brands Imdicar or Carlinéa. In the United States, you can purchase "Valvoline Deicer" or "Prestone Spray-on Windshield De-icer" brand de-icer

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Step 5. Remove the defrost residue

To do this, take a squeegee with a rubber edge or a brush with soft bristles. Once the de-icer is applied, let it act a little and remove the residue that forms.

Leave your solution (salt or alcohol) to act for a few minutes, while the frost disappears. However, it does not disappear completely and this is the reason why it must be swept to have clear windows

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Step 6. Have the necessary equipment in the car or at home

These include a frost scraper, brush, broom, etc. On the market, you will find scrapers of all shapes, colors and prices. The cheapest are sold for a few euros, others, more elaborate, go up to 20 to 30 euros.

  • These scrapers usually have two slices, a smooth one for fine frost and a notched slice for thicker frost. Some are short, others have a long handle, and finally others are attached to a protective glove. You will easily find them in car dealerships, the “auto accessories” departments of supermarkets or in specialized car stores (such as “Feu Vert” in France).
  • You can optionally use a window squeegee with a rubber edge, but this is less effective than a plastic scraper.

Part 2 of 2: take preventative measures

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Step 1. Cover the windshield

Throughout the night, place a large cloth soaked in a salt solution on your windshield. The latter will be done on the basis of one tablespoon of salt for one liter of water.

  • Moderately wring your cloth. It shouldn't be dripping, but it shouldn't be too dry either. There needs to be enough salt to prevent icing. Place your rag under the wipers so that it stays in place.
  • This "anti-frost" cloth can be used throughout the winter period. You just need to place it in a plastic bag during the day and, if necessary, wet it with your solution to make it more flexible.
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Step 2. Spray a commercial product on the windshield at night

You can use off-the-shelf products or make a solution yourself by mixing one cup of water with 3 cups of vinegar. Pour or spray this preparation at night to protect your vehicle overnight.

Be careful with the use of vinegar, however, because it can damage not only your windshield, but also the body of your car by promoting the creation of rust

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Step 3. Treat the washer water

During the winter period, put isopropyl alcohol in the reservoir of your windshield washer fluid. This will keep your wiper blades from freezing.

This is a small economical trick, compared to products sold overpriced in the store. As you have seen, it doesn't cost a lot to prevent frost from forming

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Step 4. Protect your vehicle

When not in use for a few days, cover your vehicle with a tarpaulin suitable for your model. Secure it with the elastic provided.

  • Obviously, the ideal is to have a closed garage! In the morning, you will save a lot of time, you will be able to drive in complete safety and your vehicle will be damaged less.
  • Even under the tarpaulin, a thin film of frost can form, due to the ambient humidity. It's nothing: a little defrost with the blower (or with the defrost function) and it will no longer appear.


  • Be patient. Cars are often damaged because their owner wants to remove the frost or snow covering them too quickly. It happens that the windshield is broken due to too rapid and too important thermal changes.
  • Do not pour hot water on the windshield, as the glass may shatter from thermal shock.


  • Take the time to defrost the windshield and all the other windows of your vehicle before setting off, it is for your safety and that of your passengers!
  • If you live in a commercial area, you can run to a store to get WD-40. This product can help you remove frost from your windshield quickly and you can spray a little in the evening to prevent frost from forming on the windows on those long, cold winter nights.

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