Ask LH: How Can I Prevent My Car Windscreen From Icing Up Overnight?

Ask LH: How Can I Prevent My Car Windscreen From Icing Up Overnight?

Dear Lifehacker, I am starting to get sick of waking up in the morning to a frozen car windscreen and having to spend a good 10+ minutes or so defrosting and slowly scraping ice off my windows before I can safely leave for work in the mornings. Do you or your readers have any tips to stop this happening? Unfortunately I do not have access to a carport or garage which would solve the problem! Thanks, Frozen

Picture by Sea Of Legs

Dear Frozen,

I don’t drive myself, but my memories of my mother pouring lukewarm water onto our car windscreen on icy New England (NSW) mornings mean I’m entirely sympathetic to the problem. (And we had a carport, so it might not help even if you did have access to one.)

A stroll through the Lifehacker archives uncovers a suggestion: a mixture of three parts to vinegar to one part water applied to your windscreen from a spray bottle each night. I haven’t attempted that myself, but it’s a cheap option to try. Readers, any other tried-and-tested options?

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • A common one in the UK is just to get an old blanket/towel/sheet/large cardboard box and place it over the windscreen before going to bed. You can shut your material of choice in the front doors to keep it in place.
    Sounds preferable to pouring vinegar on your paintwork and wipers.

    • This worked well for me for many years. just get a cheap old towel that is long enough to shut in both doors, then peel it off in the morning..

  • Point: never ever use warm water on a frozen car windscreen, massively increases the chances of cracking the windscreen and making it unsafe.

    As others have pointed out, if you cover the windscreen with cardboard or some other type of material so that the moisture the gathers cant form into ice is a great start. Otherwise your only option is to use cold water on those frosty mornings.

    • A towel will still collect the moisture, and freeze, but it won’t stick very well to the windscreen.

      the other option is to coat your windscreen in oil.. but then you might have other issues.. lol

  • I would suggest that the human species pump billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for several decades, thereby warming the planet sufficiently so that overnight frosts, snow and other cold-related problems become a thing of the past … oh hang on … someone thought of that already …

    • Mobo… hard to just wipe off with tissue when it’s 1-2mm of solid ice that’s frozen nicely to the glass 😀
      I have mornings where I forgot to put up my black plastic across the windscreen and I use water, and some mornings that just makes it worse… ie: the water I add from the bottle ALSO freezes and increases the icing problem. Not much to do on those mornings but sit in car, wait for heater to heat and blow across windscreen until it melts… then off to the rat races.

      PS: I might add that I type this as I sit here at the hotel pool in Thailand where it’s 25-32C range and I dont think they would know what frosty windscreen meant, let alone have to deal with problem 555

  • Just make sure you don’t make the rookie mistake of trying to spray your windscreen with the windscreen washer on a very cold morning whilst driving. You can easily end up spraying a sheet of ice on your windscreen.

    Happened to me one morning driving down to the snow in the ACT. At 100 km/h not being able to see out the windscreen is not fun.

  • Regularly and religiously apply Rain-X. It won’t stop it from icing over, but it will make it MUCH easier to remove.

    /Veteran of winters in the Dakotas and Minnesota in a past life.

  • On the odd occasion that this issue occurs, I just simply pop out to the car 5mins before I plan on leaving and turn the front & rear demisters on…when I return its all melted and the car is toasty warm. Mind you if your car is on the street or something you may wish to lock it with your other set of keys if you are able to (some new smartkeys don’t permit this) so its still there when you return……

  • I would be carful with some of the suggestions, household detergent will damage the paint finish on the car if you over-spray. I’d expect trouble from vinegar too (a weak acid). No harm done to your paintwork with a piece of cardboard.

  • As far as I know, there are three ways: Cover it – in a garage or with tarpaulin. Treat the surface – with the commercial products created specifically. Remove it – Probably wouldn’t use any acids like vinegar, you would be better mixing (isopropyl) alcohol with the water. I know in Russia they sometimes use confiscated bootleg vodka for antifreeze…

  • It’s interesting that people that live somewhere warm and don’t have the need to protect their auto windshield from icing up like to respond by saying just that. No help. Ridiculous!

  • I agree with Annonymous Guest. People come here seeking solutions and it’s a waste of time reading the answers of responders saying that they live in warm areas and don’t have a problem.
    If you’re going to do that at least add a suggestion that might help resolve the problem.

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