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How to Clean Windshields: Removing Winter Road Salt

Looking through a car's windshield onto a snowy, tree-lined road

If you don’t know how to clean windshields, then now is the time to learn. The winter months bring ice and freezing temperatures, and with it, lots of road salt. It gets everywhere from your floor mats to your shoes and your windshield where it can obscure your vision of the road, causing hazardous driving conditions long after a storm is over.

Here’s how to clean windshields in winter without damaging the glass and keep them from getting dirty in the first place.

Check Your Wiper BladesSnowy Weather

The best way to stop salt from ruining your view is to keep it from collecting on the glass. That’s the job of your windshield wipers, so be sure yours are in good condition. Check to see that the rubber isn’t cracked, torn or missing in places. If your wiper blades look good, but they’re streaking, then they need to be replaced.

Not only will this keep your view clear while you’re driving, it will help remove salt as soon as it appears. It also prevents glass damage like scratches, which are the perfect spots for road salt to build up and impair your view.

Treat the Glass With Water Repellent

Help your wipers by treating your windshield with a water repellent. These are applied to a clean, dry windshield and then repel water, including snow and rain. This helps keep salt from sticking to your windshield and works all year long to improve overall visibility and stop grime from building up and causing a visibility problem.

Use a Winter Windshield Washer Fluid

You’ll go through a lot of windshield washer fluid in the winter. While any windshield washer fluid will remove dirt and salt from the glass, there are some specially designed to handle winter weather. Try a windshield washer fluid specifically formulated to dissolve the ice and salt that builds up during and after a storm.

Try Glass Cleaner

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your windshield gets dirty enough to need a good scrubbing. Washing your windshield by hand doesn’t take long to do, and it’s essential when there’s a thick buildup on the glass that only smears when using the windshield wipers. It will not only make your car look better once you remove the salt, it will make driving safer.

Remove any loose debris stuck to the glass first and then use a glass cleaner with a soft cloth to thoroughly clean your windshield. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle to get the best results.

Rock salt buildup on your windshield is as inevitable as winter itself, but with just a little maintenance and some good old-fashioned elbow grease, you’ll have a clear view of the road ahead in no time.

Check out all the cleaning products available on NAPA online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on windshields, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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