How to de-ice a car

Clear your car windscreen fast on frosty mornings with our tips on how to de-ice a car

how to de-ice a car by scraping the car windscreen
(Image credit: Getty)

Knowing how to de-ice a car is winter motorist 101. Everyone who drives should know how to do it and how to do it quickly without risking a cracked windscreen. Yep, no more pouring boiling water on your frozen windscreen – that is a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to clear your windscreen, fast. And none of them involve a kettle. All you need is an ice scraper! A pair of gloves is always handy too (no pun intended).

Read on for our top tips to de-ice your car windscreen, or check out our advice hub for more handy how-tos for everyday life.

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1. Warm your car engine

Start your car and check the heaters are angled at the windscreen. If you have a heater in the rear windscreen, check this is on too. 

Be vigilant: opportunists are quick to take a car idling on a drive. It is best not to leave it unattended.

2. Scrape the ice off

The best way to de-ice a car is to scrape it. This is because if you use water in very cold conditions, it can instantly refreeze on the screen. Scrape it off and your windscreen will be left clear and dry for your journey. 

Using a plastic ice scraper, clear the ice from the bottom (where the heater has started to melt the ice) to the top of your windscreen. You might want to start with a window that is less icy while the windscreen gets a chance to warm. 

Sometimes, a hard frost will form a layer that is hard to clear with a scraper. If this is the case, move to step three.

3. Use a saltwater solution or water to de-ice your car

If the ice is too hard to scrap, you'll need some tepid water to melt it. Just don't use hot water. Hot water on a cold windscreen could shatter the glass as the temperature changes too quickly.

Plain water will do the job, but a dilute salt water solution is good: salt water freezes at a lower temperature than just water, meaning the screen is less likely to ice over right away. It also helps the surrounding ice melt faster.

Use a spray bottle or watering can to cover the screen, then scrape off straight away. If your ice scraper has a squeegee attachment, use this to clear as much water as possible.

4. Clearing snow off your car

If it has snowed, not only do you have ice on your windscreens, but a layer of snow to get through first. Clear this with a soft brush, taking care not to scratch your car. You also need to clear snow off the roof and bonnet so that it doesn't form harder lumps that fly off the car as you drive. The kids may find it funny, but you won't on slippery roads.

5. Protect your car from ice in the first place

The quickest way to clear ice off a car is to not let it form in the first place. Check weather reports and cover your windscreen. You can buy windscreen covers for the job, but bubble wrap or that foil bubble wrap used as insulation will do, too. An old towel or sheet will also help limit the formation of ice, but no good if it rains first and soaks the fabric.

6. Use de-icer as a last resort

We do not recommend using de-icer as it is not always great for the environment and can be harmful to pets. It will melt ice on your windscreen but you will still need to scrape the residue off. If you do choose a de-icer, be sure to spend a bit more on one that is safer.