How To Defrost Car Windows

To defrost car windows, try using your car’s heater, air conditioner and then opening windows in quick succession.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
One winter problem no driver likes dealing with during the morning rush is frosted car windshields. Using your car’s defroster, heater, air conditioner and then opening windows in quick succession will help clear your car’s windows and get you safely on the road.
We’ll cover a few other ways to defrost winter windshields, as well as several ways to defog your windows in both rainy weather and hot weather.
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How to defrost your windshield

If you find yourself in a frosty windshield situation, do the following:
  • Crank your heater all the way up—Warmer air holds more moisture, so your heater on high will absorb excess air inside your car
  • Next, turn your air conditioner on—this will help dry the air inside the cabin
  • Now, turn your air circulation button off, and then crack the windows to bring in some dry, cold winter air to further dry your car’s interior (winter air has less moisture)

How to defrost car windows without heat

Now, if the heater-air conditioner-open window-trick doesn’t "do the trick", or your heater is broken, don’t worry, you’ve got options—rubbing alcohol is a huge defrosting help, as is cat litter!
Defrosting with rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol freezes at -128℉, a much lower point than water does. So, it’s a good idea to keep a spray bottle in your car filled with ⅔ cup rubbing alcohol combined with ⅓ cup water. Spraying this homemade solution on your windshield will not only remove the frost, it will also prevent further moisture build-up for a while.
Defrosting with cat litter: Kitty litter is also an excellent defrosting agent. After what will surely be a tense negotiation with your cat, take some of Mr. Bojangles’ litter and fill a sock with it—then, place it on your dashboard. The cat litter will absorb the excess moisture in your car and keep your windshield clear.
Pro tip: Isopropyl alcohol and cat litter can work great as defrosting agents—never pour hot water on your windshield in an effort to defrost it, as this can crack your windshield.

Defogging windshield on a rainy day

Just as a frosty windshield can ruin a morning, so can a rain-induced foggy windshield—your air conditioner will help remove the fog from your windshield.
If your windshield and windows are foggy...
  • Turn your air conditioner on to remove moisture from the cabin and bring your car’s internal temperature down.
  • Then, turn your air circulation off, and your windshield and windows should quickly clear.
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Defogging on a hot day

Sometimes on a hot day, your car’s windshield can fog up. In this case, use warm air from your heater, or the least cool air conditioning setting, to raise your car’s interior temperature. This will help the excess moisture evaporate, and clear your windshield.

Do’s and don’ts for defogging and defrosting

You never want to drive with a frosted- or fogged-over windshield, which can be extremely dangerous. Here are some tips to remember when dealing with a windshield you can’t see out of.


  • Don’t wipe your windshield or windows down with your hands. Your hands have all kinds of oils and dirt on them, and this will only make the problem worse!
  • Don’t pour hot water on your windshield. The extreme temperature change could crack your windshield.


  • Do clean your windshield with an ammonia-based cleaner. Get a step ahead on winter or rainy, hot weather by cleaning the inside of your windshield and windows with an ammonia-based cleaner. This will help prevent your windows from frosting- or fogging-over. Also, remember to keep the doors and windows open when cleaning with ammonia-based products.
  • Do keep a spray bottle with a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water in your glove box, which can help defrost your windows in a pinch. Some microfiber cloths are also good to have on hand, as they won’t scratch your windshield.

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