How to Defog and Defrost Your Windshield during Winter

When rushing out the door to get to work in the winter, the last thing you want to see is your windshield covered in frost. Not only is this a nuisance, but it’s also unsafe to drive when your view of the road is obscured by frost or fog.

Whether it freezes or stays in the form of water droplets, this condensation can be a hazard when driving. Luckily, you can take some steps to get rid of it. To defog your windows, try the following four steps. If you’re curious about why these steps work, take a look at this video.

Turn on the Heat

The first thing you should do when you see your windshield is fogged up in the winter is start your car. Then, turn on the defroster — an essential feature in any good winter car — and crank the heat up all the way. This will help remove moisture from the air in your vehicle.

Hit the A/C Button

It might seem odd to turn on the A/C in the winter, but doing so will help dry the air inside the vehicle. As air goes into the A/C system, the system’s receiver traps moisture along with other impurities, reducing the amount of moisture available to form on your windows.

Turn off Air Recirculation

A common mistake that drivers make when trying to defog their car in the winter is leaving the air recirculation button on. You want to bring in fresh air because winter air is dry and cold, meaning it can absorb a lot of moisture from the air inside your car.

Open the Windows

Cracking open your windows can make this process go even more quickly. When you open your windows, the humid air in your car can escape, and dryer air can come, reducing the moisture in your vehicle.

Tips for Stubborn Frost and Ice

If fog is your main problem, these three steps will help solve it. For more stubborn frost and ice, try these three tips either by themselves or in combination.

1. Use an Ice Scraper

If the condensation on your windshield has frozen as frost or ice, you can scrape it off manually with an ice scraper. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from the cold.

2. Use an Alcohol Solution

You should never use hot water to defrost your windshield, as the rapid temperature change can cause the glass to crack. Plus, any leftover water may eventually freeze, worsening your problem. Instead, you can use a mixture of two-thirds isopropyl or rubbing alcohol and one-third water. Because the isopropyl alcohol won’t freeze, you can keep it in a spray bottle in your car and use it quickly to defrost your windows any time.

3. Use Winter Windshield Wiper Blades and Washing Fluid

Installing winterized windshield blades and using windshield washer fluid that’s formulated for winter can also help you to remove condensation when driving. Winter wipers and washing fluid are designed not to freeze even in frigid temperatures. When used in combination with some of these other steps, they can help to remove any remaining snow, frost or water droplets.

Driving during the winter comes with its challenges, one of which is fogged up and frosted over windshields. Driving with your view obscured is unsafe, so it’s essential that you know how to remove it. Next time you need to defrost your windshield, give these tips a try.

Scott Huntington is an automotive writer from central Pennsylvania. Check out his work at Off the Throttle or follow him on Twitter@SMHuntington

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