How to de-ice car: A step-by-step guide

How to de-ice car: A step-by-step guide

Frosty mornings mean icy windscreens and frosty door handles, and de-icing your car before work can be a faff sometimes. We’ve put together this handy guide with everything you need to know about the quickest way to de-ice your car.

How to de-ice your car

1. Check your windscreen wipers

When your windscreen ices over, your windscreen wipers can stick to it. If your windscreen wipers were turned on when you last drove your car, they might start trying to move. If they’re frozen in place, this can burn out the motor. So it’s best to unstick your windscreen wipers before turning on your car, just in case.

2. Start your car

Start up your car and turn everything on that can help to warm it up. This includes any heated windows you might have, as well as the heater for inside the car. You can also turn on your air conditioning to help to get rid of any moisture in the car and clear the mist from all your windows. If you find your door handles are frozen shut, you can use lukewarm water to de-ice them. It’s not a good idea to use hot water, as this could damage your paintwork.

3. Clear away any snow

If it’s been snowing, you’ll need to completely clear your car of snow. This includes the roof, bonnet, lights, windows, and number plates, not just the windscreen. Getting rid of all the snow on your car is actually a legal requirement. You can use a soft brush to push most of the snow off your car, then a soft broom for anywhere that’s a bit harder to reach.

Spray on de-icer and scrape off the ice

The last step to de-ice your car is to spray a layer of car de-icer over your windscreen and windows. You can use a shop-bought de-icer or make your own (we’ve included some handy tips on this further down). After letting the de-icer sit for a few seconds, you can use an ice scraper to carefully de-ice your windscreen and windows. It’s generally recommended to use a shop-bought scraper to avoid scratching your windows.

It’s not a good idea to use hot water at any point while de-icing your car. Combining high heat with extreme cold causes glass to expand rapidly and could end up cracking your windscreen or damaging your paintwork. It’s also best not to use a hairdryer or a portable heater for the same reason.

If it’s been snowing all night, you might want to check out our blog ‘What should you do when driving in snowy conditions: Do’s and don’ts

Making your own car de-icer spray

If you’d rather not buy a de-icer spray, you can make one at home. Below are the most effective homemade de-icing sprays:

  • Salt solution - You can mix a teaspoon of salt into a spray bottle full of water to make an effective de-icer. It’s best to use this one sparingly though, as the salt can build up around your washer-fluid nozzles or damage your paintwork if you use too much.
  • Vinegar solution - You can also make a solution with 1 part water to 3 parts white vinegar if you’d rather not use salt as a de-icer. This shouldn’t cause any problems with your paintwork, and you can even spray it on the night before as a preventative measure.
  • Alcohol solution - You can also try mixing 2 parts surgical spirit or rubbing alcohol with 1 part water. This should work in the same way as the other options and is unlikely to cause any damage to your paintwork.

How to stop your windscreen from icing over

If you don’t have time to de-ice your car every morning, there are a few preventative measures you can take to stop your windscreen from freezing over:

  • Windscreen or full car frost covers are designed to insulate your car to stop ice from forming.
  • Soaking a towel in a salt or vinegar solution and placing it on your windscreen overnight can help to keep your windscreen ice-free.

You can also take steps to stop your windscreen from misting up overnight, like installing a dehumidifier on your dashboard. You can learn more about demisting your windscreen in our blog ‘How to stop car windows from fogging up’.

How to deal with ice inside your windscreen

If you’ve been finding that your windscreen is icing over on the inside, there’s a chance that there’s a build-up of moisture inside your car. When the temperature goes below freezing, the moisture that comes into contact with the window will freeze. These are our tips for de-icing the inside of your windscreen:

  • When you turn on your car heaters, you can put a towel on your dashboard to catch any moisture that drips down.
  • Once the inside of your car is heating up, you can use a warm, dry towel to wipe away any ice from inside the windscreen. If you have a tumble dryer, you can warm up your towel in there before, or wrap it around a hand warmer before you start wiping.

Preventing the inside of your windscreen from icing over is usually a case of stopping moisture from building up inside your car. These are our tips for reducing the moisture inside your car:

  • Install a dehumidifier on your dashboard to remove excess moisture from the air.
  • Clean your windows inside and out,  as moisture in the air can settle on dirt.
  • Take everything out of your car that might carry moisture. These are things like coats, dog blankets, or shoes.

For our tips on cleaning inside your windows, you can check out our blog ‘How to clean inside of windscreen: A guide’.

A few final tips…

These are our last few tips for how to de-ice your car:

  • Try not to use your bare hands or a credit card to de-ice your car. Your hands can leave grease behind and credit cards can scratch the glass.
  • Trying to quickly de-ice your car with hot water and hair dryers can cause damage to your windows and paintwork. Try to leave yourself enough time in the morning to de-ice your car fully.
  • It is illegal to leave snow and ice on your car before you drive, and it’s dangerous. Not de-icing your car properly can land you a fine and points on your licence, so it’s best to do it properly.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.