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How to Safely De-Ice Your Windshield

Rushing out the front door to find a fully-frosted car can make a winter commute even more stressful. Pressed for time and still half-asleep, many people’s first instinct is to fight ice with heat. They rush inside, brew a cup of hot water, and come stumbling back through the snow with an icy windshield in their crosshairs. Dumping that cup of hot water onto a frozen windshield in the dead of winter would only make a bad morning worse, however. The sudden temperature change and resulting expansion could crack your window, before the rapidly-cooling liquid adds insult to injury by freezing into another layer of ice. Fortunately, there are simpler and gentler solutions available. Read on for three easy steps to safely de-ice your windshield.

1. The first step you should take when looking to de-ice your windshield is to turn your car’s engine on. This is a good general practice to pursue in the winter, as it gives your motor a chance to warm up, avoiding excessive engine wear. Make sure that you do not leave your car unattended, or allow it to idle for too long. 5-10 minutes of engine activity, with your defroster fan on low, should be enough to have warmed your windshield for the next steps.

2. The second step in an effective de-icing strategy involves the mixing of a de-icing solution. This can be made in advance, and stored in your trunk or roadside kit in a spray bottle year-round. The mixture is extremely basic, and can be done quickly as your car slowly warms up. Simply combine equal parts water and ethanol. If you do not have access to ethanol, vinegar can stand in as an effective and low-cost substitute. Give your mixture a good shake before each use, and apply it liberally to your icy windshield.

3. The final step in the de-icing process involves the dreaded ice scraper. If you do not have an actual scraper, any piece of hard plastic can suffice in a pinch – some people have used CD cases with varying degrees of success. Many frustrated car owners take their ice-scraping duty as an opportunity to vent angry feelings, but rough scraping is not recommended. Many car owners end up scratching their windshield with vigorous scraping efforts. Instead, use a series of short, shallow, and downward scraping motions to work your way into the middle of the windshield. With your car warming and soaked in de-icing solution, you should have an ice and damage-free windshield in no time!

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