Updated: Jun 24, 2022
With the amount of snow and ice that we’ve seen this winter so far, it’s not far-fetched to think at one point or another you’ve woken up late to your alarm, run out the door and come face to face with a thick sheet of ice across your windshield -- making your commute to work that much longer. It’s reason enough to say that you’ve also most likely done a Google search or two trying to find ways that you can quickly and efficiently clear the ice or prevent an excess of future buildup. Therefore we’d like to set the record straight on safe and efficient ways that you can both manage, as well as clear ice and snow from your vehicle windshield.
Avoid Urban Myths: What Not To Do!
Don’t Use Internet Vinegar Spray Recipes!
We know how frustrating chipping away at ice can be when you’re in a rush, and there are many sites out there promoting a vinegar recipe you can use to “pretreat” your windshield or use to easily clear your windshield of ice and snow. The reality is though that putting the solution onto an already-frozen windshield won't help, based on research found in the Farmers' Almanac.
Vinegar is a corrosive agent and can cause the following problems including:
Damage your vehicle's chrome
Damage your vehicles paint
Micro pitting of the windshield glass
USA Today found similar findings from fact-checking site Snopes.com, which says the vinegar ice removal tip annually arises online each winter.
Avoid Hot Water/Salt Mixes
Popular Science warns that putting hot water on your windshield can potentially cause the glass to crack, because it produces such a quick change in temperature. And if it’s really cold outside, that hot water could even turn into yet more ice.
Although salt is good for de-icing your driveway, similar to vinegar it will erode the car paint and metal, and damage the vehicle.
Popular mechanics say deicing solutions such as Prestone Windshield Deicer is a safer alternative. Unlike many sprays’s packaging, this bottle has a built-in scraper for thicker bits of ice that need to be coaxed off the glass. Prestone says to pre-break tougher bits of ice before spraying the solution on your windshield, let it sit, and then clear the remaining detritus with your wiper blades. With this spray’s active ingredients like methyl alcohol and ethylene glycol, it’s imperative to avoid contact with skin and breathing in the fumes.
Other Items You Should NOT use on your windshield to clear ice & snow include:
Propane Blow Torch
Even when using the appropriate ice scraper it's always best to give your vehicle ample time to warm up. DO NOT tap on the glass with your scraper to break up the ice. This can lead to chips in the glass.
It's important to get immediate professional windshield chip repair once any chips appear. Regardless if the damage is due to improper snow and ice removal or has been caused by a rock chip. Glass expands in the heat and contracts in the cold, if left un-repaired, the damage will expand! It just a question of when. Be sure to avoid the chip expanding and leading to safety issues by having a certified technician repair it.
How To Safely Manage/Remove Snow & Ice
Use plastic ice scrapers: Always use a plastic scraper, the windshield wipers, a rubber snow broom or a soft bristle brush to remove ice. Avoid using a metal scraper, which can scratch the glass and damage wiper blades.
The New York Times Wirecutter’s choice for the best ice scraper and snow brush is the Hopkins SubZero 80037. See their full list of recommended ice scrapers and snow brushes here.
Turn on your vehicle’s defroster: Plan ahead and start your vehicle 10-15 minutes before you leave and blast the defrost. Many new cars include an automatic car starter, so if you set your vehicle's heat to defrost and keep the vents on full blast the night before you can easily use your vehicle’s remote starter from the warmth of your home.
Get a windshield cover: Eliminates the need to scrape ice from your windshield, instead you simply place the cover on your windshield before snowfall and then remove it for a clean and untarnished windshield.
Replace wiper fluid: Using a winter deicing wiper fluid will help reduce ice build-up when your vehicle is on the go.
Replace your wiper blades: wipers are made from rubber, which is degradable, and becomes less effective over time. Updating your wiper blades every 6-12 month makes it easier to clear snow and ice while on the move.
Leave your blades down: Tip Hero says that angling the wipers can contribute to undue wear and tear on the pivot mechanism in the blades. Those parts are made of plastic and tiny springs and if weakened, the wipers won’t function smoothly. Thus making it harder to keep your windshield clear during undue weather.