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Think All Windshield Wiper Fluid Varieties Are the Same? Think Again

Dirty windshield driving into the sunset

Everyone wants a clean, streak-free windshield. Depending on where you live and the driving conditions, you may want to use a windshield wiper fluid that is specially formulated for the season to maximize visibility.

General-Purpose Windshield Wiper Fluid

For the best all-around cleaning, you can fill your car up with regular automotive windshield washer fluid. Some window cleaners are concentrated and need to be diluted before adding them to the reservoir, so check the label carefully before use.

Although some household glass cleaners may be suitable substitutes for standard fluid, make sure never to use detergent or liquid soap as it leaves a residue that can plug up your lines.

water droplets water repellant windshield wiper fluidWhat Are Water-Repellent Windshield Wiper Fluids?

Water-repellent windshield wiper fluids and additives from companies like Invisible Glass, Rain-X or Aquapel do more than just clean; they also use water-beading technology to disperse water, sleet and snow. They may cost a little more, but if you frequently drive in rainy conditions, water-repellant fluids can provide greater visibility when driving in the rain.

What About De-Icing Fluid?

If you live in snowy areas, consider using a de-icing windshield wiper fluid. De-icing fluid is formulated with chemicals that reduce adherence of frost, ice and snow in freezing weather.

In addition to alcohol, these solutions contain a small amount of antifreeze to melt snow and ice while keeping the liquid from freezing up in the fluid reservoir.

If you live in extreme temperatures, check your fluid’s label to determine its freezing point: All-season windshield wiper fluid freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas windshield washer fluids formulated for the winter are safe until about -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Other heavy-duty de-icing fluids can remain liquid at temperatures as cold as -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take note that even though salt is used to melt snow on the roads, resist the temptation to use a saline solution to melt ice on your windshield, as constant exposure to salt can also damage glass.

General Tips

As with any household cleaners or chemicals, be sure to keep your windshield wiper fluid out of reach of small children or pets. Its bright colors make it look like a tasty beverage, but it’s poisonous if inhaled, absorbed through the skin or ingested by drinking due to the presence of methyl alcohol (methanol) and/or ethylene glycol.

Finally, always make sure to install fresh wiper blades at least once a year, usually at the end of the dry summer season, to ensure they can effectively wipe the windshield clean of dirt and washer fluid.

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

Image courtesy of Morgue File

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