Advertisement
Yahoo Canada is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

How to defrost your car windscreen quickly

How to de-ice your car, representing with person scraping car windscreen. (Getty Images)
Do you know how to de-ice your car the right way? (Getty Images)

Bundle up, it's going to be a chilly week. The Met Office has issued new weather warnings across the UK, with snow, ice and rain expected to cause disruption and powercuts.

Two amber warnings for snow and ice on Thursday 8 February have been issued, covering north Wales and north-west Shropshire, and the Peak District and south Pennines.

The forecast is predicting between 10 and 15cm of snow to fall across the warning areas, with up to 25cm on higher ground.

North Wales and north-west Shropshire has also been covered with yellow warnings for snow and ice, as well as much of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In the south of England, a yellow warning for rain is in place, with the Met Office saying that periods of heavy rain may cause disruption to transport.

Amber and yellow weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office. (Met Office)
Amber and yellow weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office. (Met Office)

In areas where snow and ice are likely to occur, many of us will turn to the trusty kettle and fling boiling water over the windshields of our cars in an effort to find a speedy solution to defrosting them.

But, turns out that’s not a great idea, as it could actually crack your screen. Ditto with using your credit card to be free of the frost. Hello scratched glass!

Oh, and certain aspects of de-icing could actually land you in trouble with the law.

Yep, those who head back inside to keep warm while their car is de-icing could actually be slapped with a fine.

That's because under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, unnecessary "engine idling" is illegal if your car is left on the street. Yikes!

But thankfully, there are ways to effectively, quickly (and legally) remove frost from your screen without causing damage or forking out for an expensive de-icer.

What you shouldn't do to de-ice your car

We need to consider what we use to de-ice our cars. (Getty Images)
We need to consider what we use to de-ice our cars. (Getty Images)

Use boiling water

Research by Halfords, which polled 1,600 motorists about their winter motoring habits, revealed a whopping half of all motorists have used a kettle of hot water to defrost their car windscreen.

But that could be a costly mistake as the sudden warmth hitting your windscreen in chilly temperatures could lead to the glass cracking.

Just leave it

Sure, it’s tempting to stick the heater on full and drive off hoping the screen will soon clear, but that’s a move that could land you in trouble.

According to the Highway Code, “windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free of obstructions to vision.”

During cold weather, this is particularly relevant and you must clear the ice (or snow) from all of your windows, as well as both the front and rear windscreen, before driving.

This is the same with clearing the condensation that forms inside the car.

The risk of not doing so is a potential £60 fine and three points on your licence for driving with limited vision.

Don’t be tempted to leave your car to defrost while you head back in the warm either as you’ll be risking a fine of £20 (or more if you don't pay it in time) and three penalty points for leaving your car to defrost while the engine is idling.

The law says if your car's engine is running, you need to be in control of it, which rules out you being in your house in the warm while your car ticks over outside.

And, of course, if you’re busy getting breakfast inside, your car could also be an easy target for thieves.

Person waiting in the car for the screen to warm up. (Getty Images)
Waiting in the car for the screen to warm up isn't the most environmentally friendly idea. (Getty Images)

Stick on the heater and wait for it to clear

While ultimately effective, this is the least environmentally-friendly option thanks to the extra fuel you’ll use and the extra pollution you'll cause. Avoid for the sake of the planet.

Start the wipers

Tempting though it might be to speed the process along by using your wipers to help shift the ice, starting up wipers that are frozen to the windscreen or jammed by snow could cause damage to the mechanism.

Use a credit card

Halfords found that over a third (35%) of drivers have admitted to using a bank card to scrape ice from their windscreen. While it may seem like a good idea, using anything other than a proper ice-scraper risks scratching the glass.

Of course, it could also cause your precious card to snap too, rendering you card-less, and potentially therefore cash-less.

Effective (and safe) ways to de-ice your car

Use a windscreen scraper or de-icer

Both offer the easiest and safest method to free your car of frost.

Make a DIY de-icer

While de-icers are effective, there are some more cash-conscious and environmentally-friendly ways to remove ice from your screen (NOT the credit card though, remember).

One easy method is to mix up a solution of water with a teaspoon of salt, before pouring it over any frozen areas.

Use this sparingly, however, as salt could cause damage to the windscreen and avoid hitting the paintwork as it is also corrosive.

Mixing up three parts of vinegar to one part of water will also do the trick, but could be a little on the smelly side.

Meanwhile the experts at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts suggest an alternative solution of mixing water with rubbing alcohol which you can get from any pharmacy.

Mix one part water with two parts rubbing alcohol and fill the spray bottle with the solution. This can then be sprayed on your windscreen to melt the ice.

The best part is that this solution will not freeze, as rubbing alcohol has a freezing point of around -88 degrees celsius, which means the bottle can be kept in your car until next time.

Person spraying car windscreen. (Getty Images)
Using a de-icer both shop-bought and DIY can be the best way to de-ice a frosty screen. (Getty Images)

Other winter weather car hacks

Keep your car frost-free overnight

Want to avoid the morning frost-clearing rush? Try soaking an old towel in a solution of water and table salt and placing it over your car windows the night before.

It works because salt lowers the freezing point of water, which means moisture is prevented from frosting over on your screen.

Spray your car doors with cooking spray

Every part of your car’s exterior is liable to freeze and stick in place overnight. If you’re worried about your car doors jamming shut, the experts at Vehicle Contracts suggest spraying a simple cooking spray along the rubber edges of your car doors.

Wipe away the excess then close the doors and leave it overnight. In the morning, they should open easily (even if the rest of the car is icy).

Put socks on your windscreen wipers

If you’re parking outside during winter, you may find that your windscreen wipers can stick to the window.

Strange as it may sound, to stop this from happening, you can pop a pair of long socks on your windscreen wipers to stop snow and ice from collecting there.

"Remove them in the morning when you need your car then remember to put them on again before you leave your car for the night," adds Robert Harris, director at Vehicle Contracts.

Use hand sanitiser to defrost keys

In today's post-pandemic times everyone tends to still have hand sanitiser on them with COVID-19 and flu still circling, which makes this particular hack all the more convenient.

If you use a manual car key, it’s a common occurrence for the keyhole to freeze over making it impossible to turn the lock. If you break the key in the lock, replacement car keys cost up to £250, so it can be a costly issue to solve.

One of the key ingredients of hand sanitiser is alcohol, which will cause any ice to simply melt away. Cover your keys in hand sanitiser and it should glide in no problem.

Happy (pain-free) de-icing!

Buys to help de-ice your car

RevHeads Ice Scraper | £10.49 from Amazon

FREESOO Windscreen Frost Protector Car Snow Cover | £21.99 from Amazon

AA Winter Car Kit with Folding Snow Shovel | £16.98 from Amazon

Car Plan Winter Car Essentials in Gift Pack | £14.99 from Amazon

Read more about keeping warm this winter: