Do you have a favorite windshield de-icer?
With winter upon us, there are certain weather-related issues that may require attention on our RVs, especially for anyone who spends time in a location where the temperature drops significantly. One common issue you’re likely to encounter in cold weather is a frozen windshield.
So, today we’re looking at windshield de-icers and the best ways to remove and even prevent ice buildup on your windows.
You may be surprised by the methods that work and don’t work, and you may want to be aware of one method that is likely to cause serious issues and should be avoided at all costs.
Read on for the best (and worst!) RV windshield de-icer methods.
- 1) What’s a Windshield De-Icer?
- 2) Methods for Clearing Ice from an RV Windshield
- 3) Methods You Should NEVER Use to De-Ice Your RV Windows
What’s a Windshield De-Icer?
A windshield de-icer is anything that melts ice that accumulates on your windshield in the cold.
There are a number of methods for deicing a windshield. Some work better than others, and some should be avoided entirely due to their potential to damage your windshield.
There are many commercial windshield de icers on the market, and there are some you can make from ingredients you’re likely to have on hand.
There are also some winter windshield washer fluids that contain de-icing ingredients. But if there’s a lot of snow and ice built up on the window, using your windshield washer fluid likely won’t be a good option.
Methods for Clearing Ice from an RV Windshield
In our post offering 15 tips for winter RV living, we talked about insulating our RV windows, but one thing we didn’t cover in that article is how to deal with icy windshields.
Here are several methods for dealing with frozen windshields safely so that you can hit the road!
If all you’ve got is a light coating of frost or ice on your windshield, your rig’s defroster should be able to handle the task. Although this of course takes time, as your engine needs to warm up for this to work.
Start the engine, let it warm up, and turn on the defrosters to allow the glass to slowly warm, melting the ice.
If the ice on your windshield is thicker than a light coating, you may need to use a little elbow grease to clear it.
Use care as it’s possible to scratch your windshield, especially if there’s road grime and grit on it.
It’s best to only use a high-quality plastic ice scraper to avoid scratching the glass. One with a snow brush attached for use when the white stuff flies can serve double duty. Here are a couple of examples.
The first is a standard snow scraper/brush, and the second is great for larger windshields because it’s a brush and scraper with an extendable handle.
- 26 inches long for ample reach and compact storage
- Features four rows of sturdy plush bristles for removal of heavy snow
- DIMENSIONS: Compacted Dimensions: 35.5” L x 4.25” W x 5.5” H. Extended Dimensions: 50” L x 4.25” W x 5.5” H. Weight: 1.5 lbs
- VEHICLE COMPATIBILITY: Trucks, SUVs, and Cars
If you REALLY want the Cadillac of ice scrapers, a splurge on a Hopkins SubZero 80037 is a sure bet. It’s been the top pick of the Wirecutter (the NY Times version of Consumer Reports) for years. They absolutely rave about its durability and thoughtful design details that set it apart from anything else on the market.
- Quick lock extension pole reaches 60"
- Extra wide scraper blade
There are a few different ways to effectively de-ice a windshield using commercially available products.
Cold-Weather Windshield Washer Fluid
One way is to use a cold-weather windshield washer fluid that contains de-icers.
These are routinely used during the winter in areas that tend to see lots of cold weather, snow, and freezing rain.
With this method, you’ll simply spray your washer fluid as you normally would to clean your windshield. But because your windshield washer fluid contains a deicing agent, it will send a de icer spray over your windshield that is intended to melt the ice.
You can buy a product like this online or at any auto parts or big box store:
- Package Dimensions: 7.5 L x 11.63 H x 4.3 W (inches)
- Package Weight : 8.18 pounds
The other way to de-ice your windshield using a commercial product is to use a de-icer that’s sprayed directly onto the windshield. It helps melt the ice so that you can clear it away with your brush or plastic scraper.
Some quality windshield deicer sprays include Prestone’s Windshield De-Icer and CRC Ice Off.
These are widely available online and in most auto parts stores and big box stores and can also be used to de-ice a frozen door or door lock.
- Melts ice, snow, and frost on contact
- Harmless to car finish ,Applications : automobiles, `headlights, locks, windows
This one is great for use in a pinch if you don’t have anything else handy.
Combine 2/3 rubbing alcohol with 1/3 water in a spray bottle and spray it on your windshield.
Does it really work? Apparently, it does!
Prevent Your RV’s Windshield From Icing Up In The First Place
And finally, there are a couple of ways to actually prevent ice from building up on your windshield.
You can cover your windshield overnight with an RV windshield cover like one of these, which also makes snow removal easier:
- 🚚SPECIFICALLY SUITABLE: Kiviynay RV windshield cover is specially suitable for Class C Ford E450 1997-2022 RV, reinforced hook and loop straps,...
- ☀DUAL-USE IN SUMMER&WINTER: the RV windshield cover can effectively block the sunlight and resist strong UV rays in summer; in winter, it not only...
- Perfect Fits--- BougeRV RV windshield cover fits Class C Ford E450 1997-2023 RV, NO for all kinds of RV. Sturdy hook & loop tape fasteners around the...
- Winter and Summer Protective Shield: BougeRV RV windshield cover can work in the winter, it will provide you better protection with snow. It can...
Ice/Frost Prevention Spray
You can also use a commercially available frost/ice-preventing glass treatment on your RV’s windshield that may help to stop ice from forming.
Using a shielding product on your RV’s glass may serve to lessen the effort you’ll need to use to de-ice the windshield.
This sort of product tends to work best on morning frost and light ice or snow to keep the elements from sticking to your windshield.
- Prevents morning frost, light ice, and snow from sticking to windshield and wiper blades
- Dramatically reduces the time, effort, and hassle it takes to clear your winter window glass
Methods You Should NEVER Use to De-Ice Your RV Windows
The methods we’ve noted above for dealing with built-up ice and snow on your windshield are the safest and most effective ways to deal with the issue.
Following are a few things we should never do in an attempt to de-ice a windshield:
DO NOT Use Hot Water
Hot or even warm water applied to ice on glass could cause the windshield to crack!
DO NOT Use Salt Solutions
Solutions that contain salt can damage your RV’s paint and/or glass.
Salt can also cause etching on the windshield glass.
DO NOT Use Direct Heat
Never use heat from a hair dryer, heat gun, space heater, etc. to de-ice a windshield.
The sudden temperature change caused by the direct application of intense heat can cause the windshield to crack. If you’re going to use heat of any kind, leave it to your RV’s defroster to do the job slowly.
Beyond Windshield De-Icing — Other Cold Considerations
We’ve spent most of our nearly 20 years full-timing as snowbirds, heading south most winters. So intense cold isn’t something we experience all that often. But when we do head to cold climates, being out of practice can have a downside, as you’ll see in our video from one February we spent in Zion National Park!
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Gay RV Enthusiast (Jason)
Friday 2nd of December 2022
I generally use the defroster on my car to de-ice the windows.
Friday 2nd of December 2022
1. Using a cold-weather windshield washer fluid that contains de-icers has a huge drawback. If the temperature is well below freezing the windshield will require quite a bit of de-ice fluid and a dozen (or more) swipes of the windshield wiper. You will hear the windshield wiper being slowly shredded with each swipe until the hard sharp ice has been melted and removed.
2. "But when we do head to cold climates, being out of practice can have a downside, as you’ll see in our video from one February we spent in Zion National Park!" Actually I remember that video - another good one with your usual honesty.
However "being out of practice" for cold weather is not a bad thing. It is a retirement goal, a number on the bucket list, a desire for many, a campfire-in-the-desert discussion, a reason to clink glasses, a source of (YouTube) income, in short it's something to celebrate.
Take care, John