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Health and wellness

The Do’s & Don’ts of Car Defrosting

October 30, 2017

When the mercury drops, Canadian drivers know that a whole new set of car care tasks are required during the colder months.

Unfortunately, winter brings its own set of challenges in the form of dead batteries, frozen door locks, and frosted windshields.

Rushing through common cold-weather car tasks can cause more harm than good, however. When it’s time to defrost your car’s windshield, take care to heed these simple do’s and don’ts to get the job done properly, without damaging your vehicle.

Do

…start your car and turn on the defroster

The first step to properly defrosting your windshield is getting into your vehicle and turning it on. Then, turning on your heating to the “defrost” setting, and waiting 5 minutes to 15 minutes for your windshield to warm up and begin to defrost.

Don't

…use a hairdryer or portable heater

When you’re running late for work and wake up to a windshield covered in ice, or a car door frozen shut, it might be tempting to try to accelerate the melting process by using a hair dryer or portable heater. However, this is dangerous and should not be attempted – although it may take a little longer, try instead the other safe ice removal methods outlined below.

Do

…use a store-bought or home-made de-icing spray on your windshield

De-icing solutions, such as “MotoMaster Windshield & Window De-icer,” are readily available at most car supply stores. If you’d rather take the DIY route, you can also make a home-made de-icing spray with a saltwater or alcohol solution.

To make a saltwater de-icer, simply mix a few teaspoons or table salt, or road salt, to a spray bottle filled with water. Be sure to use this spray sparingly, as heavy salt exposure may cause damage to your windshield.

To make an alcohol solution, simply mix one part water and two parts 70% isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle. Whether you’re using saltwater or alcohol, when you spray these onto your icy windshield, the frost will begin to dissolve, while the ice will begin to melt and break apart. At this point, you can use your ice-scraper to remove whatever ice or frost is left on your windshield.

Do

…pour cold to lukewarm water on a frozen door handle

To help de-ice a frozen-over door handle, pour lukewarm or cold water over the handle to melt the ice. The ice will then become soft enough so that you can wipe it away using a sturdy rag or even with your gloved hands.

Don't

…pour hot water on a frozen windshield

Pouring piping hot water onto your icy or frosted windshield can cause cracks in the glass. What’s more, in extra cold temperatures, hot water thrown into the air actually turns into powder upon contact with the freezing cold air.

Do

…use a plastic ice scraper and soft brush

The handy ice-scraper is the go-to option for ice removal – however, not all ice scrapers are created equal! It’s wise to choose a scraper with a soft brush on one end, and to make sure that the scraper you choose is made of plastic rather than metal. You can help to loosen and break apart the frost and ice with the brush end, and then remove thicker patches of ice with the scraping end.

Don't

…use a spatula, key, or metal scraper

If you don’t have a plastic ice scraper, it’s not a good idea to reach for a metal alternative, such as a spatula, a car key, or even a metal scraper. You may very well scratch your windshield or damage the paint of your vehicle by using a metal object to remove frost and ice.

Defrosting your car isn’t necessarily a pleasant task, but it is a necessary one come winter in Canada. Use these tips to avoid damaging your car in the process, so that you can get back on the road sooner.


These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.

In Quebec, Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc. In Ontario and Alberta, Desjardins Insurance refers to Certas Direct Insurance Company, underwriter of automobile and property insurance.