Clean Frost Off Car Windows Quickly
If you're running late for work in the morning, the last thing you want to see in your driveway is a car with completely frosted-over windows. Driving with ice on your windshield can be unsafe, and scraping it off with an ordinary ice scraper takes valuable time and can even scratch the glass. Luckily, these aren't your only options. De-ice your windows with any of these quick, easy tricks.
- Heat water to a cool-lukewarm temperature. This method uses water to rapidly soften and melt the ice on your windows. The larger the area of glass that you'd like to melt, the more water you'll need. For instance, if you just want to melt the ice on the front window of a four door sedan, you'll only need a few cups, whereas if you want to melt the ice on all six windows, you'll need a gallon or more. Your water shouldn't be boiling hot - in fact, the rapid temperature change brought by very hot water can cause the glass to crack.
- If you take a morning shower, use the opportunity to fill a bucket or jug with lukewarm water. This way, you save time because you only need to wait for the water to heat up once.
- Another reason not to use hot water is that, in extremely cold environments, hot water can actually spontaneously freeze into powder when thrown through the air.
- Pour the water on the window(s). Splash, throw, or pour your water on the windows you want to defrost. You should notice the ice become immediately translucent. You may even notice it disappear completely.
- Follow up with quick scraping or wiping. Though water will quickly soften or melt most ice, in some cases, the ice remains on the windshield in a translucent, "slushy" form. Fortunately, this softened ice is usually very easy to remove. Use your windshield wipers, a gloved hand, a conventional scraper, or another similar tool to push the ice out of the way.
- Re-apply warm water to any spots you missed, then re-wipe.
Using a De-Icer
- Buy a commercial de-icer or make your own. Specially-formulated de-icing fluid is available at most auto shops, especially if you live in an area with cold winters. However, if you don't have any de-icer on hand or you just want to save money, it's not hard to make your own. Follow the simple instructions below:
- To make your own de-icer, pour rubbing alcohol into a clean, dry spray bottle. Add a few drops of dish soap. Screw the lid on, then invert several times to mix.
- Spray your de-icer on the window. Whether you bought de-icer or made your own, you'll use it the same way. Spray your de-icer directly on to the icy parts of your window, then allow it to soak in briefly. You shouldn't need to wait more than a minute or two - the more de-icer you use, the less time you'll have to wait.
- Scrape as normal. Use a plastic scraper, a gloved hand, or another tool to scrape the ice away. You should find that it comes off of your window much quicker and easier than it normally would, saving you time overall. If needed, re-apply your de-icer to difficult spots as you scrape.
- In commercial concentrations, rubbing alcohol has a very low freezing point, so it's usually OK to leave your de-icer in the car unless you're expecting temperatures of -20 F (-29 C) or lower.
Using a Credit Card
- Turn your car's defroster on. This last-resort method is appropriate when you don't have a lukewarm water, de-icing fluid, or any conventional scraping tools at your disposal - for instance, if your car's window froze in the parking lot while you were at work. Because you're going to attempt to remove the ice with a credit card or other improvised tool, it's wise to give yourself as much help as possible. To begin, start your car and turn on your heater/defroster as high as it goes. Leave this running throughout the process - over time, it will soften and begin to melt the ice, making your job much easier.
- Find an appropriate credit card. Dig through your wallet to find a credit card or any similar stiff, solid plastic card. Don't use a laminated card - these aren't stiff or sturdy enough to scrape the ice effectively. If possible, try to use a card that isn't important to you, like an old, expired credit card, as this method carries the risk of damage to your card.
- Start scraping. Hold the long edge of your card at an angle against the window and push firmly. Try to keep the card as straight as possible, not allowing it to bend or flex as you scrape. If you do, you may end up deforming or breaking it.
- Be persistent! As far as scrapers go, credit cards can require more effort than dedicated scrapers. You may need to push quite hard to get results.
- If you're worried about breaking your card, you may want to double or triple the strength of your scraper by holding two or three cards stacked as you scrape.
- Use your wipers and fluid to assist. As you scrape ice away, you'll probably accumulate ice shavings at the edges of the window. Periodically, spray wiper fluid and run the wipers for a few seconds. The wiper fluid can help soften up any remaining ice, while the wipers themselves will help brush the ice shavings out of the way. Between the scraping action of your credit card, your wipers and fluid, and your defroster, your window should be free of ice within a few minutes.
Using Warmed Rice Packets or Sodium Acetate Hand-Warmers
- Place rice in a mitten or heavy duty zip-lock bag and microwave for 30 seconds to a minute. You may need to make several of these to complete the job.
- While seated inside your car, pass the rice packet back and forth over the window. This will warm the glass and the ice will melt.
- Sodium acetate hand-warmers also can be used in this manner and can stay ready in the car. A quick click to activate the heat reaction and then you can recharge the warmers by boiling in water.
- The advantage of this method over scraping, is because the glass is warmed as you start to drive it will not re-frost. Also you stay warm and dry inside the car while prepping for departure.
- Be careful and quick. Just like boiling water may crack glass, holding a hot warmer in one place too long may stress the glass. Only allow it to remain in place long enough to start to show melting, as it will continue to melt while moving on to a new area. Windshield wipers and rolling down the side windows can be used to clear moisture.
Preventing Window Ice
- Cover your windows at night. One sure-fire way to ensure you're not delayed by icy windows in the morning is to keep ice from forming in the first place. To do so, cover your windows with a towel, a folded sheet, or a piece of cardboard at night before dew or ice forms on the window. Try to arrange the cover tight against the window so that dew (and eventually, ice) can't form in any loose spots.
- One useful trick for your front windshield is to use your car's windshield wipers to hold your cover in place. For your other windows, you may want to use small rocks or other weights to pin your cover down.
- In the morning, remove the window covers. Pull your towels, sheets, etc. away from the window. They may be damp and/or icy, so, if you plan to use your window covers again at your destination, be sure to lay down a water-tight barrier, like a tarp, before throwing them in your trunk.
- Spot-scrape any icy spots. Though this method should greatly reduce the amount of ice on your windows, there may be a few small patches remaining. Use a plastic scraper, your hand, or a similar tool to remove these if they obscure your vision. If you're in a hurry, you may want to get in your car and use your windshield wipers in conjunction with the defroster and your wiper fluid.
- If icing is expected, lift the wipers from the windshield surface to prevent them from being frozen to the glass.
- When temperatures are at or slightly below freezing, using the windshield washer and wipers can speed the melting process. If it is very cold however, the thin layer of fluid on the windshield left after the wipers pass, may freeze very quickly, especially if driving.
- Make sure that wipers are set to off when shutting the car off, so that should the wipers freeze to the glass, they won't try to start before the frost and ice has melted when the car is started.
- The blowers on cars generally don't reach all the way down where the windshield wipers live when they're off. Before you turn the car off for the night pop the wipers up just an inch or so by using a quick touch on the manual wipe option. When you turn on the blower the next morning the blades of your wipers will be defrosted first.
- For thin frost, you can turn your defrost all the way up and turn your windshield wipers on to do some of the "scraping".
- Room temperature or cold tap water works quickly, especially for thick ice. Pour from the top of the windshield to get your scraper started.
- Never pour hot water over a frosted windshield. The rapid temperature change will result in cracking the glass.
- Do not use a metal edged shovel (or any metal object not designed for scraping windows) to scrape the frost, snow or ice from a windshield.
- A plastic card may break or otherwise be rendered unusable after using to clear frost from the windshield. Select a card that is expendable - or keep an expired credit card expressly for this purpose.
- Free windshield wipers from ice on the windshield before turning them on.
Things You'll Need
- Plastic card
- Spray de-icer
- Windshield wipers