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Quick fix: How to defrost your windshield

Maintaining good visibility is one of the most important parts of safe driving. This means being extra careful with your windshield by replacing worn windshield wipers to combat rainstorms and clear ice and snow in the winter.

But there is another windshield-related problem that may arise in an instant: fog. Depending on the weather conditions, it is possible for your entire windscreen to become foggy in a few seconds. That’s why it’s important to learn how to defrost the windscreen – and quickly.

Why mist my windshield?

A car windshield mist when there is a significant difference between the temperature and the moisture content of the air inside and outside your vehicle.


7;s the reason: Cold air does not hold as much moisture as warm air. This means that if it’s cold outside, the warm air in your car is likely to contain more moisture – and things can mist up even faster with your breathing or a steaming hot cup of coffee.

This is why condensation, or mist, forms on the inside of your windshield – because the air surrounding the glass is colder than the rest of the air inside your vehicle.

How can I mist my windshield?

Try these quick tricks.

  1. Use the “defrost” mode. Most newer vehicles have a specific button or climate control to defrost the windshield. The icon for this defrost mode will look like a variant of a windshield with arrows pointing up through it. There may also be a separate button to activate the rear window defrost.

    When you use this setting, your car will automatically turn on the air conditioner and direct warm, dry air towards the windshield.

  2. Adjust your climate settings manually. If your car does not have a defrost mode, or if it does not seem to work fast enough, try manually adjusting your climate control settings. To help resolve the debate over which settings work best, YouTuber and former NASA engineer Mark Rober conducted his own experiments. Here is his recommendation:
    • Turn up the heat. Set your heat on high and turn up the defrost fan to the highest speed.
    • Turn on A / C. It may seem counterintuitive to turn on the heat and turn on the air conditioner. But your air conditioning system removes moisture from the air that comes through your valves.
    • Turn off the air circulation. The icon for this button probably looks like a U-turn arrow inside a contour of your vehicle. When it is on, the car will recirculate the hot air inside your vehicle through the valves. But when you turn it off, it lets your car draw the cold, dry air from the outside to help you dehumidify.
  3. Crack your windows. By letting the outdoor air into your car, you can quickly reduce the humidity in the passenger compartment. If it’s extremely cold or rainy, it’s worth toughening it up – even if you crack the windows for a few seconds, the fog can lighten.

Can I wipe off the fog from my windshield?

It may seem that the quickest defrosting solution would be to wipe the inside of your windshield with a towel or shirt sleeve. But try to avoid this if possible.

Wiping mist from the windshield may help your visibility for a few moments, but condensation is likely to return. When it does, the stripes you have made when you wipe off the fog will make visibility even more challenging.

Can I deworm my windshield without air conditioning?

We have already found that using your car’s AC system during defrosting can help remove moisture from the air. But what if your car does not have air conditioning (or it does not work)?

Do not worry. You can still defrost your windows by following the other steps above.

Just keep in mind that your car’s climate system will have a harder time getting rid of the fog for good. This means that you may need to keep the heat high or drive with the windows cracked throughout your drive.

How can I prevent the windshield from misting?

If frequent fogging in the windshield is a problem for your vehicle, you may be able to reduce it by treating the inside of your windshield.

All auto parts stores will carry anti-fog products that are easy to apply. They are designed to add a protective barrier to the glass that prevents the small water droplets from sticking. Just take the anti-fog spray or wet wipes, clean the inside of your windshield and your fog problems should be significantly reduced.

In a pinch? Believe it or not, cleaning your windshield with shaving cream can give a similar result! (Just avoid getting anything on your car’s exterior paint to avoid potential damage.)

To preserve your way of life

We would get lost without our cars. They take us to work, drive our children and take us home again. At Erie Insurance, we understand that – we not only insure your car, we protect how you live your life. To learn more about car insurance from ERIE, contact a car insurance agent near you.

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