How to Perform Windshield Defrosting Safely (and What to Avoid)

For anyone with a busy routine, a frozen windshield can be a frustrating and time-consuming problem. Proper windshield defrosting can take the time you would rather use to reach your destination.

You may be tempted to try a quick fix to get on the road fast, but if you defrost your windshield incorrectly, you may damage the glass. Not only that, but failure to properly clear your windscreen and defog windows can dangerously impede your vision while driving.

In this guide, we’ll explain the best steps to quickly and effectively defrost windshields so you can be on your way as soon as possible.

We’ll also reveal what not to do so that you can stay safe on the road.

Why Do I Need to Defrost my Windshield Properly?

Although it may be tempting to use shortcuts to get on the road faster, it’s essential to carry out safe and effective windshield defrosting for two significant reasons:

#1: To maintain the condition of your windshield glass

  • Incorrect windshield defrosting can damage the glass, causing scratches, chips or even cracks.
  • Bright winter sun can reflect off scratches, impeding your vision when driving.
  • A chipped or cracked windshield risks further damage if more ice gets into the crack and expands.
  • When a windshield is cracked, its integrity is weakened, which may prevent it from holding up and protecting you in the case of a collision.

#2: To prevent impaired vision

  • If your windshield has not been adequately de-iced and defogged, your vision may be impaired while driving, making you a potential danger to other road users and pedestrians.
  • In British Columbia, Section 195 (1b) of the Motor vehicle Act makes driving illegal with an obstructed view, which can include ice and snow obstruction. Getting caught could land you a $109 fine.

How to Defrost Your Windshield – 4 Steps to Effective Defrosting

As you have seen above, it is vital to defrost your windshield correctly before starting your journey. Find out how with our expert guide to windshield defrosting below:

Step # 1: Prevention

  • The best way to quickly defrost your windshield is to keep it from getting icy in the first place. If you are lucky enough to have a garage or carport, park there when the weather is below freezing.
  • If you need to park outside, add a protective windshield cover to prevent ice from forming on the glass. You can find magnetic covers in auto supply stores or use a piece of cardboard, tarp or towel.
  • Some vehicle owners add a hydrophobic coating to their windshield to prevent ice from sticking to the glass.

Step # 2: Warm up the vehicle

  • Warming the vehicle will help melt the ice outside the glass and defog the windows.
  • Turn the heating on high. Choose the defogging or defroster in the car’s setting so that air is directed to the windshield.
  • Turn on the A/C if you have it. It will help remove moisture from the air inside the vehicle, which will defog windows quicker.
  • Turn the air circulator off. It’s important to circulate fresh air in the vehicle. Accelerate the process by cracking a window open very slightly.

TIP: Pull your visors down while defogging. It will help keep the warm air close to the window.

Step #3: Use a de-icer spray

  • While warming the vehicle, use a de-icer spray on the outside of the windshield. It will start eating into the ice, making it easier to scrape any excess.
  • Many de-icer options are available to purchase, or you can make your own DIY de-icer with simple ingredients such as rubbing alcohol or vinegar. This article by contains some simple de-icer solutions to try.

Step #4: Remove any remaining ice

  • Don’t be tempted to start scraping until the car is fully warmed, the windows are defogged, and the de-icer has had the chance to work. This process can last up to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the ice.
  • Use a soft brush to remove loosened or melted ice first
  • Use a plastic ice scraper to remove any remaining ice patches

TIP: Remember to remove ice from your headlamps before driving too.

What Not to do When Defrosting Your Windshield

If you follow the above steps, you can soon begin your journey safely. However, don’t be tempted to try the following hacks or tricks, as they could lead to serious damage to your windshield that may be severe enough to require repair or replacement.

  • Using a metal scraper. Metal scrapers are highly likely to cause damage, such as scratches or even chips, to your windshield.
  • Pouring hot water onto your windshield. A sudden temperature change could result in a cracked windshield.
  • Using an external heater. Don’t be tempted to rush the defrosting process with a hairdryer or other external heater, as the sudden change in temperature can cause cracking.

Note: If you have a remote starter, starting your vehicle from inside your home may be tempting. Before you do this, consider whether leaving your car running unattended is safe. You should also check whether your municipality has no-idling rules that could result in a fine.

Budget Glass for Your Auto Glass Needs

If you have a damaged or cracked windscreen, contact the auto glass experts at Budget Glass for assistance. It is important to repair cracks and chips as soon as possible as they are vulnerable to spreading should the windshield ice over.

We can look at your damage and let you know if it is possible to fix it or if a complete replacement is required. As an ICBC-approved express repair shop, you can come directly to us for auto glass claims. 

Based in Nanaimo and serving the mid-Vancouver Island area, the team at Budget Glass is always on hand to help with your auto and residential glass needs. Contact us today so we can help you get back on the road.