Parking outdoors in the Twin Cities during winter means you’ll inevitably need to remove ice from your vehicle’s windows. While there are a number of effective ice removal methods you can use, not all of them are safe for your auto glass.


Certain de-icing techniques can leave your windshield with noticeable scratches, chips, or even cracks that necessitate prompt auto glass repair. To help you avoid windshield damage this winter, our team at Centennial Auto glass has a few effective (and safe!) de-icing tips below.


1. Use Your Vehicle’s Defrost Setting to Melt Ice

The safest way to de-ice your auto glass is to use your vehicle’s defrost setting. But don’t crank the setting all the way up as soon as you turn the defroster on! Immediately turning the defrost to the highest heat setting can stress your vehicle’s windshield because it directly exposes the glass to a drastic shift in temperature.


Much like dropping an ice cube into a cup of warm water will cause the ice to crack, drastic temperature changes can have a similar effect on your auto glass. If your windshield already features minor chips or cracks, they can quickly grow worse with exposure to a sudden temperature change.


To avoid the need for auto glass repair or, in a worst-case scenario, windshield replacement, make sure you give the defroster plenty of time to do its work. Ideally, you should allow the defroster to run on a low to medium setting for at least 20 minutes, so it can gradually melt the ice on your windows.


2. Remove Ice With a Plastic Scraper

If you’re in a hurry, using an ice scraper is the most efficient way to de-ice your windshield. But make sure you never scrape ice off your auto glass with any material other than plastic!


Using any item that is harder or sharper than plastic to scrape ice from your windshield can cause significant scratches, cracks, or chips in the glass. And in freezing temperatures, glass damage can spread quickly. To avoid a windshield replacement or auto glass repair on any of your other vehicle windows, be sure to keep a plastic scraper in your vehicle throughout winter.


3. Pour Tepid Water on the Glass

If you don’t have an ice scraper or the time to wait for your windshield to defrost, you can use water to quickly de-ice your windshield and vehicle windows. But if you plan to take this route, make sure you use room-temperature water. Never pour hot water on your windshield!


To safely de-ice your windows with room temperature water, slowly and steadily pour a glass of water on the ice to gradually raise the temperature of the glass. Consider filling a small bucket with water, so you don’t have to make multiple trips indoors when it’s freezing out.


As the frost or ice melts, you can wipe it away with a cloth or use your windshield wipers to clear it from the glass. Adding some table salt to the water may help the de-icing process go a bit faster since sodium chloride effectively melts ice (that’s what they pour on streets to keep them from icing up).


If you want to try this, make sure you add enough salt to saturate the solution completely. And be careful to only pour the salt water on the glass since salt can corrode metal and exacerbate any existing corrosion your vehicle may have.


Curious what else you can do to avoid the need for auto glass repair this winter? Check out our winter windshield maintenance tips.


4. Use Rubbing Alcohol to Melt Frost and Ice

Don’t have a plastic scraper? Don’t feel comfortable pouring tepid water on your frozen windshield? Then if you have a bottle of isopropyl rubbing alcohol handy, you can try using that to get ice off your vehicle windows, as alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water.


Here’s the best way to melt ice and frost with rubbing alcohol:


  1. Grab an empty spray bottle.
  2. Fill the bottle with two parts rubbing alcohol and one part tap water.
  3. Generously spray the frost and ice on your auto glass with the alcohol-water solution.
  4. Allow the solution to sit and melt the ice.
  5. Wipe away the slush with your windshield wipers or a cloth (or your sleeve if you’re in a pinch)


If this ice-removal technique works for you, mix up a bottle of alcohol-water solution and keep it in your vehicle. 70% isopropyl alcohol has a freezing point of -128°F, so the solution will never freeze even if it sits in your car on the coldest day of the year.


5. Use a Credit Card to Scrape Off Frost

If you’re really in a pinch and don’t have a plastic scraper, water, salt, or alcohol and your defroster is on the fritz, you can try using your credit cards to get frost off your auto glass. However, if your windshield is caked in ice, this technique probably won’t work well since credit cards aren’t quite sturdy enough to break through thick ice.


If you want to try this tip, grab multiple cards and stack them to form a thick, robust, makeshift scraper. It’ll take some time to chip away at the frost using your makeshift tool, but it should get the job done if you have the patience to work at it for several minutes.


Just make sure you only use plastic credit cards to make your scraping tool. Some cards are made from titanium, and while they’re certainly much sturdier than plastic, they can easily scratch your auto glass if you use them.


Looking for Quality Auto Glass Repair in the Twin Cities?

If you need a windshield replacement or any other type of auto glass repair this winter, bring your vehicle to our team at Centennial Auto Glass. We’re approved by all major insurance companies and offer mobile auto glass repairs for your convenience. With over 25 years of experience, we’re the number one team to call when you have damaged auto glass!


To learn more or schedule an appointment, call our Blaine, MN office today at 651-653-1777 or contact us online.