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It’s cold outside and there’s ice on your windshield. Now what? This scenario is annoying at any time, but it can be extremely stressful when you’re in a hurry and already running late. The best solution is to park inside or cover your windshield to defrost windows quickly, of course. However, that isn’t always possible.

Fortunately, there are steps to take in order to defrost car windows with less stress and we’ve listed them below. Just make sure that your car maintenance kit includes the necessary tools.

1. Start your car and turn on the defrosters

Ideally, your car has a remote start and can start warming up while you’re still getting bundled up. Otherwise, get it started warming and defrosting before you lay a hand on the ice scraper. RepairPal suggests turning the heat to maximum and directing it all to the defrosters. The blower fan should be on maximum, too. And don’t forget to turn on the rear defroster!

Make sure the air conditioner is working in order to avoid foggy windows on the inside and that air recirculation is turned off. You want fresh, low-humidity air coming in from outside rather than just recirculation the same stale, humid air that’s already in there.

Cracking a window slightly will improve air circulation throughout the vehicle. Warm air circulating inside your car will cause the ice and snow on your windows to start softening and even melting slightly.

2. Keep a great ice scraper on hand to defrost windows quickly

Ice scrapper, a way to defrost windows quickly.
Ice scraping | Stefan Puchner via Getty Images

Actually, it’s a good idea to have two great ice scrapers on hand. That way, you’ll always have a backup in case it’s needed. Your ice scraper should be large, durable, and comfortable to use even while wearing thick gloves or mittens. A long enough handle to let you reach every part of the window is essential. A snow brush on one end (or a separate brush) will let you sweep away loose, fluffy snow so you can reach the ice.

While we’re at it, do you know how to use the ridges on the back of your ice scraper? Those ridges are designed to score sheets of ice, weakening it so that it’s easier to remove with the blade. They’ll also work on any hard chunks of ice you may encounter. Just don’t pound on those ice chunks with it, or you might see your windshield spontaneously shatter right before your eyes!

3. Try using a deicing solution to defrost windows quickly

Using a deicer can speed things along by softening the ice from the outside. Between your defrosters and a deicer, that ice doesn’t stand a chance! You can purchase spray cans or bottles of the stuff anywhere you find auto supplies. Or, you can make your own…

You only need three things to make your own homemade deicer. Those three are cold water, isopropyl alcohol, and a good spray bottle. A small garden sprayer works even better if you have a large truck or SUV since the wand will let you reach farther and there’s less pumping involved. Whatever kind of sprayer you use, mix one part cold water with every two parts of isopropyl alcohol.

Since the alcohol mixture won’t freeze at temps above 5° F you can even leave the spray bottle in the car most of the time. However, you may not want to leave the sprayer in the car during freezing temperatures since the wand may freeze and render it useless.

4. Know when to use your wipers

Don’t use your windshield wipers until the ice is melted or is at least slushy. Ice has hard edges that will nibble away at them until your wipers are basically useless. Once you’ve removed as much as you can with the scraper, get back in your car and warm up until the windshield is also warm and the ice is melting. Now it’s time to put those wipers and windshield washing fluid to work.

Just make sure that the washer fluid you’re using is formulated for sub-freezing temperatures or you could make things worse.


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