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How to Unfreeze Windshield Wipers

SUV covered in snow in front of a brick house

Knowing how to unfreeze windshield wipers is important if you live in a region that experiences cold winters. Your car’s wipers serve a critical role in keeping your windshield clear, so you can see the road ahead during ice- or snowstorms. When the temperature drops, your wipers may freeze onto your windshield, preventing them from doing their job. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to thaw the ice without damaging your wipers in the process.

You can unfreeze your car’s wipers in 10 minutes or less using products commonly found at home. You’ll need the following items:

  • A 12-ounce spray bottle
  • At least eight ounces of rubbing alcohol
  • Room-temperature water
  • Gloves

Step 1: Fill the spray bottle with water and rubbing alcohol

Top off the spray bottle with a mixture that’s one-third water and two-thirds rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water, so it won’t turn to ice when it’s applied to your car’s windshield. Instead, the alcohol will warm up the glass and help thaw the frost. Only use water that’s room temperature or slightly warm, as hot water could cause the frozen windshield to crack.

Step 2: Spray the mixture of water and rubbing alcohol over your car’s windshield

Use the spray bottle to completely cover your car’s wipers and windshield with water and rubbing alcohol. Let the mixture sit on the glass and wipers for at least two to three minutes. This will allow the alcohol to fully penetrate the frost and soften the ice.

Step 3: Wipe away the ice and frost

By now, the alcohol should have loosened the ice, making the frost soft and malleable. Use your gloved hands to gently scoop the frost from the windshield. Test the wipers to see if you can easily lift them. If they’re still stuck to the glass, don’t attempt to pry them loose, since this could cause damage. Instead, repeat step two. Don’t move on to the next step until you’re able to easily pull the wipers from the windshield.

Step 4: Store the spray bottle in your car for future use

By now, your wipers should be ready for action. Store the spray bottle in your vehicle’s trunk, cargo area or glove compartment in case you need to use it after parking somewhere away from home.

To prevent your wipers from freezing in the first place, park indoors. If that isn’t possible, try placing a sock over each of the wiper blades to prevent them from sticking to the glass.

In cold weather, it’s a good idea to install winter wipers on your vehicle, which are specially built to withstand frigid temperatures and won’t crack or warp in icy conditions. Their extra-large blades are designed to effectively clear snow from the windshield.

Check out all the wiper blades available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to unfreeze windshield wipers, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.


Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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