Spare onion to hand? Clearing a frozen windscreen - top 12 tips

Originally Published: January 2022
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As winter fast approaches in the UK, motorists are being offered expert advice on how to clear their windscreen and avoid a fine and possible penalty points on their licence.
The car leasing experts at LeaseCar.uk have provided their top tips for effectively clearing windows and windscreens on a freezing cold morning. And the humble onion could help - by acting in a similar way to vinegar - to clear windows.
With the temperature across the UK likely to drop below zero over the coming weeks and months, frosty windscreens will become a common occurrence for drivers.
A spokesperson for LeaseCar.uk said: “Trying to scrape the windscreen of a vehicle on a cold and frosty morning can be a huge inconvenience especially before setting off to work or school.
“Every year it is almost guaranteed that drivers will use their credit card or an old CD to clear the snow from their cars, but this can cause lasting damage to a vehicle.
“Making sure the windscreen is covered with tarp or some sort of sheet can help to ease the ice build up. And there are a number of homemade solutions that can be made that act as a great alternative to de-icer.”
Frost and ice build-up is caused when water vapour in the air is cooled and because windscreens and windows are made of glass, they tend to freeze over much more quickly than any other parts of vehicles. This is because a glass window releases heat faster than plastic or metal. 
The Highway Code clearly states that windows and windscreens must be kept clean and free of obstructions to vision – breaking this rule could result in a fine and points on your licence. 
As a result, British motorists are being encouraged to utilise windshield covers and garages where possible and to also be resourceful and use home products to create a DIY de-icer.
Here are LeaseCar.uk top 12 tips for keeping your windscreen clear in winter:

Watch out for DIY scrapers
When rushing to get to work in the morning, it’s easy to reach for the nearest flat object – like a bank card or CD – to scrape the ice off, but using anything other than a car ice scraper could lead to a severely scratched windscreen.  Keep a made-for-purpose ice scraper on hand and use short, powerful strokes to chip the ice away.

Salt water solution 
This will dissolve the ice with a chemical reaction rather than melting it with heat. The ions in salt also lower the freezing point of water, making it difficult for it to refreeze. Apply the solution sparingly, as heavy application could damage the glass. 

Vinegar solution 
If you spray an iced windshield with a mixture of water and vinegar, while the mixture will not melt ice, it can help ice from forming in the first place if you spray your windshield with it the night before.

Rub an onion
Onions have a similar effect on windscreens as vinegar does. If there is nothing but this root vegetable left in the house, then rub generously on the windows and windshield the night before and this should keep Jack Frost at bay. 

Vodka
Arguably the most expensive way of clearing a frosty windscreen, but the alcohol content in vodka means that it makes for a great de-icer in freezing temperatures. 

Let the car warm up
If your car has a ‘defrost’ setting on the temperature gauge, switch it on. It could take around fifteen minutes for the glass to get warm on the inside and melt the ice on your windscreen. It’s important to avoid leaving a vehicle to defrost whilst the engine is idling. This can incur a £20 fine - up to £80 in London. 

Clear properly
Not only does a small peephole through the ice make it difficult to drive but it can also get motorists into a lot of trouble. Make sure to clear the whole windscreen as well as the car’s mirrors before setting off on a journey. If not drivers could risk getting a £60 fine or a possible three penalty points. 

Avoid boiling water
Although this may seem like the quickest method to clear a windscreen in a rush it can cause the glass to crack due to thermal shock because of the sudden temperature change. Leave 10-15 minutes before setting out to allow some time for the car to defrost instead of damaging the vehicle in a mad panic. 

Keep a bottle of de-icer 
Although there are many great homemade alternatives, nothing quite beats the convenience of the real deal. They’re available from most petrol stations and can really reduce the stress on a cold morning.  

Don’t forget the exhaust
A lot of attention can be given to clearing the windscreen which can leave other important parts of the car neglected in the cold. Whilst the car is heating up, make sure the exhaust isn’t black with snow or ice otherwise this could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Try industrial lubricant
This isn’t the best thing to use for the windscreen and windows of the car but is great for use on the number plate. Spray a small amount on the surface of the plate and this will help ice from sticking to it. If a number plate isn’t clearly visible it can leave drivers in hot water. 

Utilise cover 
Keeping the car in a garage overnight can prevent frost from building up on the windscreen. Motorists without access to a garage or storage unit can use a tarp, newspapers, or an old bedsheet to prevent the build up of frost on the windscreen. 

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