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For 2023, Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter today. As a result, we’re in it for the long haul, and the United States is swirling with winter weather and snowstorms. One thing that’s guaranteed to happen is your car’s windshield will freeze over with ice. We all know it can be a massive pain to deal with, especially early in the morning when you’re running late. Moreover, if your car’s defrosters don’t work or they’re just taking too long, it’ll be helpful to know some other ways to conquer a frosted windshield quickly. Here are three ways to defrost your car’s windshield without defrosters.

1. Lukewarm water (NOT HOT)

Ways to defrost your windshield in the winter without using your car's defrosters
Frosted windshield | Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The first way to defrost your car’s windshield without defrosters is by using lukewarm water. Do not, under any circumstances, use hot water. According to Bob Vila, the temperature difference between hot water and a frozen windshield causes glass to expand. As a result, it can and will crack your windshield. Using lukewarm water means getting a bucket of water warmer than the ice on the windshield, which is pretty cold.

BV says to fill a gallon bucket three-quarters full with lukewarm water. Then, gradually pour the water over the frozen windshield, moving from one top corner to the other across the top of the windshield. Ice will melt as it trickles down the glass, and your wipers will easily remove the excess. If it’s a bit thicker in slush form, you might need to remove it with your hands or a scraper instead. Either way, it’ll be faster than waiting for the defrosters to warm up and de-ice the entire windshield. Use extra water on other windows if they’re also covered in ice.

2. Rubbing alcohol

A frozen windshield covered in ice can be defrosted in ways without defrosters
Scraping a frosted windshield | Oscar LECONTE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Another lesser-known way to defrost your car’s windshield without using defrosters is rubbing alcohol. BV says the substance you use for cleaning minor scrapes works as a de-icer because it has a much lower freezing point than water (128 degrees Fahrenheit.) When you apply it to a frosted windshield, the heat transfers into the ice, melting it due to its increased temperature.

First, fill a 12-ounce spray bottle with four ounces of room-temperature water and eight ounces of running alcohol. Turn the bottle upside down several times to ensure the combination is mixed correctly. Next, spray the mixture over the frozen windshield, completely coating the glass. You’ll have to let this one sit for a minute to start taking effect. Once it looks like it’s melting, it should be easy to wipe the remaining ice away with a gloved hand, ice scraper, etc.

An additional positive to using rubbing alcohol is that you can keep a bottle in your car. There’s almost no risk of freezing because of the low freezing point, so it’ll be safe inside during the harsh winter months.

3. Homemade heat packs

Finally, homemade heat packs are the last way to defrost your car’s windshield without using the defrosters. Bob Vila says to fill two socks or old mittens with uncooked rice, then place them in the microwave for 30 seconds. Next, from inside your car, grab one in each hand and gently move them around the interior surface of the windshield. Be sure to move them around thoroughly, but don’t keep them in one spot for more than 10 seconds to prevent the risk of cracking.

The heat from the rice will transfer to the glass, and the ice on the windshield will melt away. Using your windshield wipers or an ice scraper should quickly clear away what remains, whether water or slush.

Can I prevent my windshield from frosting over?

While there are many ways to defrost your windshield besides using the defrosters, there are also some ways to keep it from icing over in the first place. The obvious choice is to park indoors, like inside a garage, when possible. If that’s not an option, a tarp, beach towel, or even rubber mats on the windshield will have the same effect. Owners can use their windshield wipers as clamps to hold them in place. Finally, an old stocking or long sock will slide over your wiper blades to keep them from freezing. That way, they’ll be much more usable when you need them later.

How to defrost a windshield

In conclusion, there are a few safe ways to defrost your windshield without defrosters. If your car’s defrosters don’t work, or you don’t have time to wait, these are all viable, fast options. Using lukewarm water is more accessible, but be sure not to make the water too hot, or the glass can crack. Next, a bottle of water and rubbing alcohol are perfect for keeping inside the car. Its freezing point prevents it from freezing inside your vehicle, and it’s always on hand in case snow or ice starts while you’re away from home. Lastly, homemade heat packs using rice and socks or gloves are easy to clear your windshield from inside your vehicle.

Which methods for defrosting a windshield are you going to try first?