If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had to hoist yourself from the warmth of your bed numerous times during winter to scrape the ice off your windshield. You may have also wondered if there was a product that could make that project a bit more bearable. As it turns out — there is! I’m here to talk about five of the best windshield de-icers on the market right now.
A good windshield de-icer will swiftly cut through the ice that tends to form on your car at night. Yet, getting rid of the frost isn’t exactly an appearance preference. After all, you can’t very well drive with your windows covered in ice: it’s dangerous. Fortunately, you don’t have to twist your arm trying to scrape stubborn ice off when just a little bit of de-icing fluid can loosen it up for you.
After I present the reviews of the five finalists, I’ll also take the time to explain how you should make the most of them. However, before we get to all of that, let’s define what windshield de-icers are.
Windshield de-icers are typically liquid solutions that come in either aerosol cans or trigger spray bottles. Most of them have a high content of methanol, which is a type of wood-derived alcohol. These products also tend to contain water to a much smaller degree, as well as carbon dioxide — for aerosol products.
As I have explained in several previous articles — alcohol can be of great help when cleaning your car windows, especially if you want a streakless result. It can even get gunky tree sap residue off the roof and hood of the car. So it shouldn’t surprise you that ice-busting is another one of the many benefits of using alcohol on your car.
Basically, the freezing point of methanol is much lower than that of regular water. While water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, methanol needs a much lower temperature to reach its freezing point — specifically, negative 143 degrees. So, when the alcohol comes in contact with the ice on your windshield, it’ll quickly dissolve into it, causing it to liquify.
Reviews of the Best Windshield De-Icers
I’ve decided to present the products on my list going from the smallest quantities to the largest. However, since I know that some people prefer aerosol de-icers, while others go for the good old, trigger sprays, I’ve also grouped the list accordingly. Those looking for the latter can jump straight to the fourth and fifth product on my list.
If you don’t think you’ll need a lot of product, you can choose one of the first items I’ll review. On the other hand, if you anticipate that you’ll need a greater amount of the antifreeze solution, or you simply don’t want to deal with the aerosol — go for one of the last two options.
1. CRC 05346 Ice-Off Spray De-Icer
The CRC Industries Ice-Off comes in a 7.75-inch tall aerosol can that contains 12 ounces of the de-icing solution. That amount is actually enough for only two full windshield treatments. However, if you usually only have an issue with your wipers or with unsticking the lock, this will be perfect. It even comes with a little red straw you can use for precision.
In my opinion, aerosol spray de-icers are infinitely easier to use than the trigger kind. Basically, with these, you just have to press down and hold — a trigger spray requires you to squeeze again and again. Now, I understand that might sound a bit nitpicky, but trust me. You’ll feel the same when you have to get out of your warm home to defrost your windshield before heading off to work.
But back to the matter at hand: let’s talk about the effectiveness of this particular de-icer.
Though you can’t really expect it to work wonders, it will indeed hasten the melting process. The exact percentage of the ingredients in the mixture is a company secret. However, I did manage to uncover some things. Namely, the three main components are methanol, and to a lesser degree, carbon dioxide and water.
Obviously, this product is highly flammable, though that shouldn’t be a problem unless the can ends up in temperatures above 122 degrees Fahrenheit. You also don’t want to keep the can inside your vehicle. Ironically, if the temperatures are low enough, it can get frozen shut.
2. Penray 5216 Windshield Spray De-Icer
This product is fairly similar to the previous one and just about as effective. In fact, there’s some overlap in the ingredient lists of these first two de-icers.
Like the previous one, this one has the same three main ingredients. Methanol and carbon dioxide, as well as water, make up most of the Penray mixture. Additionally, it contains three other ingredients.
As expected, the exact percentages of the different parts are not disclosed. In any case, the components of the mixture are all highly flammable. So all the warnings I gave in the previous review apply here as well.
Conversely, the product is much better at handling cold temperatures. While some users of the previous product did mention that it could freeze shut if you leave it in the car, this one doesn’t seem to have the same flaw. According to the manufacturer, you’ll be able to use the spray in temperatures as low as –25 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition to being able to melt the ice on your windshield, this de-icer is also great for unsticking your wipers. That’s another thing it has in common with the previous product on this list: it’s gentle on both the metal and the rubber parts of your vehicle. So you can also use it to thaw locks or car doors that have been frozen shut, not to mention get the ice off your windows without scratching them.
3. Prestone AS244 Windshield De-Icer
This Prestone aerosol de-icer is the perfect solution for people who like dual-purpose products — and I just so happen to be one of them. It’s actually one of the two Prestone de-icers I’ve chosen to review and the final aerosol product on this list.
So what exactly makes it dual-purpose? Well, it deals with pesky ice both mechanically and chemically. Namely, its 10-inch can holds 17 ounces of methanol, ethylene glycol, and carbon dioxide that will easily melt the ice on your windshield. They may even prevent frost from forming for a while.
On top of that, the product also features a scraper top, so you don’t even have to purchase an additional tool to go with it. Even though I wouldn’t say that the scraper is particularly sturdy, it should be able to get the ice off without much trouble. After all, the liquid itself will loosen it up beforehand.
Since we’re dealing with aerosol and alcohol here, you should avoid inhaling, ingesting, and coming in contact with this product and others like it. Upon closer inspection, though, the fumes that are released when you apply the solution are barely noticeable. Still, these ingredients are as flammable as ever, so you ought to avoid subjecting them to extreme temperatures.
The 17 ounces of the product should be enough for several uses. However, the link I’ve included actually shows a twin pack version of this product, so you’ll have as much fluid as you get in the trigger sprays.
4. Prestone AS247 Trigger Spray Windshield De-Icer
Aerosol de-icers do have their advantages, but there’s something to be said about a plain, old-fashioned trigger spray. The first trigger spray on my list comes from the same company as the previous product I reviewed.
At first glance, the 32-ounce Prestone de-icer looks like an ordinary window cleaner. The bottle has an ergonomic design that makes it easy to hold it by the neck while squeezing the trigger top.
Since the packaging itself is completely made of plastic, you shouldn’t have to worry about it freezing. At the very least, it should be better at handling the cold than metal aerosol cans. It should be able to withstand temperatures of about negative 58 and above 53 degrees Fahrenheit.
Despite the lack of aerosol, the solution is still flammable and toxic, so you must avoid getting it on your skin or in your eyes. In fact, I’d even advise wearing gloves during the application, no matter if you’re using an aerosol de-icer or a trigger bottle.
Even though it comes from the same company as the previous product, this de-icer is a bit different because it doesn’t contain carbon dioxide. Instead, methanol plays the key role here, with various “non-hazardous ingredients” following closely behind.
Needless to say, this de-icer will do the job quite nicely. It’s certainly a more popular choice on Amazon, whether that’s because of the packaging or the solution itself. Like the other products, it works on both windows and locks, and it should even be safe for the rubber components.
5. SPLASH 32-Ounce Red Hot Windshield De-Icer Trigger Spray 3-Pack
Like the previous product, this one comes in a plastic bottle with a trigger top. They’re virtually identical except for the fact that the earlier product is yellow, whereas the SPLASH Red Hot de-icing liquid is — you guessed it — red.
As expected, the main ingredient here is methanol, though it also contains other stabilizers. Since all of the other products on this list are alcohol-based as well, you can expect this one to be similarly effective. Even though it’s primarily meant to be used on windshields and windows, the solution won’t damage your vehicle’s paint or the rubber parts. In fact, many people use it to unstick their wipers from the glass.
However, the company has specified that this particular product is only good for quickly melting away frost and ice — not as a preventative measure. If you want to stop ice from forming in the first place, they recommend their HeatWave Liquid De-Icer. On the other hand, if you’d rather be frugal, there are also DIY methods to prevent ice from forming on your windows, which I’ll mention after this review.
Finally, allow me to repeat myself (because safety is paramount) — keep it away from heat, sparks, and flames. Furthermore, you should avoid inhalation and direct skin contact, as always.
How to Use a Windshield De-Icer
Now that you’ve seen several examples of how a windshield de-icer should look like, let’s talk about application. I’ve already given you some tips, but this will be a real step-by-step guide to using the products we’ve discussed. So what do you do when you wake up after a frosty winter night?
Brush Off the Snow
First things first: when you’re cleaning your windshield in the morning, start by getting any loose debris off. So, if your windshield is frozen under 10 inches of snow, brush it off to uncover the layer of ice.
There are plenty of products that would be up to this challenge, including this brush and scraper duo from Mallory. But really, you can do it with pretty much any brush you’ve got. Just don’t scrape the actual glass.
Doing this will allow you to see the exact amount of ice you’re dealing with. If the layer of ice is thin enough, you might be able to get away with going in with the de-icer immediately. However, if it varies in thickness, you’ll want to get the snow off first in order to concentrate on the most affected areas. That way, you won’t be wasting the product.
If it’s cold enough to get frost on your windows, it’s cold enough to bundle up. Since most, if not all, de-icers are methanol-based, you should ideally take steps to protect yourself from inhaling, ingesting, or touching the liquid with your bare skin.
Even though you can aim fairly accurately with any of the five products on my list, a gust of wind can always divert the direction of the mist. What’s more, if you don’t wash your hands between applying the de-icer and handling food, for example, you may ingest it, which can result in nausea and vomiting.
Fortunately, covering up your skin during the winter months shouldn’t be that difficult. You can wear gloves and a scarf to cover your hands and mouth. On particularly windy days, you should also shield your eyes. After all, direct contact with methanol can cause irritation and blurred vision.
Apply the Solution and Let It Sit
Once you’ve protected your skin and cleared the snow away, you’ll be able to see which areas of your windshield need special attention. Usually, the ice is the thickest down by the windshield wipers because that’s where the water naturally collects. You may also need to focus on the wipers themselves if they’re frozen to the glass. Additionally, you should check your side mirrors and spray them to ensure road visibility.
Aside from the glass parts of the car, you can also use de-icers to get rid of the ice in other crucial areas, such as the locks and the doors. If you live in an extremely cold climate, fused doors and stuck locks may be a regular part of your day. Fortunately, a good de-icer can help you deal with these problems without damaging the rubber or metal. Once you apply the solution to wherever you need it, you’ll have to let it sit for about five minutes before you can drive.
But you needn’t wait too long for the windshield ice to thaw. If the de-icer doesn’t give you the results you want to see quickly enough, there are additional steps you can take. For example, you can turn on the defrosting feature or the vehicle heater to speed things up.
Swipe the Area to Get Rid of the Ice
Once the solution has had some time to work, you’ll be able to easily scrape the remaining ice away. In fact, if the ice is thin enough, the alcohol will completely dissolve it, and you’ll be left with a crystal-clear, streak-free windshield. You may even be able to get rid of any remaining ice chips by just turning the windshield wipers on.
Prevent the Formation of Ice in the Future
Clearly, the products I’ve talked about in this article won’t damage your vehicle in any way. However, there’s still a chance that ice damage might occur if you allow it to form freely. Fortunately, there are several ways to ensure that doesn’t happen.
For one, you can always rely on a good windshield washer fluid. Some of them, such as the Prestone Deluxe 3-in-1, will do wonders for your windshield all year round thanks to their alcohol content. But you don’t have to replace the washer fluid you’re currently using: you can also just add alcohol to it.
In addition to using a proper windshield washer and de-icer, you can also start covering your car to protect it from harsh weather. You can find several great products in my article on windshield ice prevention below.
When it comes to getting ice off the windshield, we all want to do it as gently as possible. The hassle that comes with scraping the glass isn’t worth it. Ultimately, even a small crack can invite the cold into the cabin, not to mention cause leaks.
Fortunately, you can make this formerly tedious task easy — all it takes is a methanol spray. Whether you choose one of the three aerosol de-icers or either one of the two trigger spray ones, the next time you have to get rid of the ice on your car, you’ll be done in a flash. So just pick your poison — and stay safe!