How to De-Ice a Windshield Without Damaging It

Living in Denver, CO and its surrounding communities has its advantages. We’re home to some pretty awesome skiing and enjoy a longer winter than many states. However, living in a place with colder temperatures also comes with plenty of challenges, too. One that Denver car owners know all too well: knowing how to de-ice a windshield quickly when you have somewhere to be.

De-icing a windshield doesn’t happen instantly, although when you’re standing in freezing temperatures, you’re probably wishing you had some magic de-icing powers to make it defrost faster.

Unfortunately, there is no magic. But there are some steps you can take to de-ice a windshield and get on with your day. Here are our favorite methods:

Option 1: Use a De-icing Spray

De-Ice a Windshield Use a De-icing Spray

De-icing sprays and formulas can be major time savers when defrosting your windshield. The best part is that you usually have all the ingredients you need in your pantry.

One combination to try is mixing two parts isopropyl alcohol with one part water in a spray bottle, then shaking well. Spray your ice-covered windshield with the mixture and enjoy a fast-acting effect. Depending on how thick the ice is on your windshield, you may need to spray the windshield again to remove all of the ice.

Another option is to spray your windshield with salt water. Add a scoop or two of salt to a spray bottle of room temperature water. Salt water has a lower freezing point than regular water, so it will start to melt the ice right away. This is one reason why the city of Denver and other municipalities use salt on the roadways.

You can also buy commercial de-icing sprays in the store. They usually get the job done, but they’re more expensive than mixing your own at home.

Option 2: Warm Up Your Car

Warm Up Your Car in snow

This tried and true method is among the most common ways people in Denver de-ice a windshield. Start your car, turn on the heater and defroster, and let it idle.

There isn’t really much to this method, but it’s not a favorite simply because it takes a while. Plus, you’re either forced to sit in your car while watching the ice melt (it’s as much fun as watching paint dry), or you risk leaving your running car unattended while you wait inside your home where it’s warm (this isn’t recommended as it could put you at greater risk of car theft).

If you choose this method, one thing you’ll want to do is clear any snow or ice from the tailpipe. Otherwise, exhaust fumes could enter the car and put you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Option 3: Gently Scrape the Windshield

De-Ice a Windshield scrape

You can buy a plastic windshield scraping tool just about anywhere in Denver. This is the most laborious method since you’re the one powering the tool. Not many people want to stand outside on a cold Denver morning scraping their windshields while their hands go numb, but it is highly effective and inexpensive.

One thing that helps is to warm up your car for a few minutes before starting to scrape. This allows the ice to slightly melt, which allows for easier and faster removal.

Make sure you’re applying gentle scraping motions. Rough, hard strokes might not remove the ice any better or faster, plus you may worsen any existing windshield damage.

Option 4: Use Vinegar the Night Before

Vinegar on windshield

One of our personal favorite methods to de-ice a windshield is to prevent ice from forming in the first place. Before ice starts to settle on your car, spray your windshield and other auto glass with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water (we prefer a 3:1 ratio).

There’s a myth that spraying an ice-covered windshield with vinegar will help the ice melt faster, but this isn’t exactly true. Rather, when used as a preventative the night before, the vinegar prevents ice from forming in the first place. This is due to the acidity in the vinegar that prevents freezing. When you get in your car the next morning, you shouldn’t have to worry about de-icing the windshield.

One caveat worth mentioning is that vinegar should never be used on a windshield that has chips or cracks. The acid content in vinegar may cause the damage to become worse. If you’re interested in trying this method, contact Bright Auto Glass to repair your small chips and cracks beforehand so you can start using vinegar to de-ice a windshield.

Option 5: Cover Your Windshield at Night

Last but not least, covering your windshield at night before moisture settles onto your car can help you avoid the need to de-ice the next day. You can purchase specially made windshield covers at your local auto parts stores to add an extra layer of protection and insulation. A tarp or rubber mat might also do the trick. The goal is to avoid having to scrape or de-ice in the morning so you can be on your way with nothing slowing you down.

What NOT to Do to De-Ice a Windshield

One thing we want to mention when choosing ways to de-ice your windshield is what you don’t want to do. We’ve seen several customers try to use warm or hot water to instantly “melt” the ice from their windshield. This might seem like a logical plan on the surface, but the extreme temperature difference could cause your windshield to expand and break.

That’s not a great way to start your day. It might ruin your vehicle’s interior, plus it leaves you without a ride until you can get your windshield replaced.

Use one of the other options above to de-ice a windshield safely and effectively. They’re easy, inexpensive, and don’t take a lot of time to do. Plus, you’ll be pleased with the end results.

For more tips and tricks, head back to the Bright Auto Glass blog.

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