How to get ice off your car windshield quickly - and safely

Every year, it seems like metro Atlanta is under the threat of snow and ice. From SnowJam to Snowmageddon or whatever this year may bring, you'll need to know how to safely get ice off of your windshield.

» Atlanta weather: Forecast, news and updates 

The following methods will help you de-ice your windshield as quickly as possible before you can navigate potentially treacherous Atlanta road conditions:

Cover it in advance

Use a towel, bed sheet, large piece of cardboard, tarp or a few sections of the AJC's print edition to cover your windshield at night. Remove your cover in the morning, and then defrost your car. This can work well for light accumulations of snow and ice, but if you've gotten six inches of snow, you probably won't be able to lift the covering off until you remove the snow as well.

Use a mixture of water and isopropyl or rubbing alcohol

A Knoxville, Tennessee weatherman recommends this method for melting ice fast. Mix 1/3 part water and 2/3 part isopropyl or rubbing alcohol together and pour it in a spray bottle to make a windshield de-icer spray. The ice melts quickly when you spray it on your windshield.

You can even keep a mixture of this in your car in case you leave work to find your vehicle iced over. Rubbing alcohol's freezing point is so low that it won't ever freeze in your car.

Defrost your car

If your car has snow on it, brush it off with a broom or snow brush. After that, a former NASA engineer recommends starting the car and letting it warm up with the defroster fan on the highest setting and the temperature control at its hottest setting. Turn the air conditioner on and turn off the recirculate setting. Also crack your windows.

If needed, gently use your flattened hand to break up thin layers of ice. If you can make the ice crack, you can brush it off.

» How to effectively melt ice on your driveway

Use de-icer

Liquid de-icer can help melt ice, especially if it's thin. The product comes in a can and is a mixture of methanol and propylene glycol.

If your windshield ice is thicker, you may need to also use a scraper. NAPA recommends using the corner of your scraper to carve a groove in the center of the windshield, making it go all the way to the ice. Spray de-icer along the groove, and work the scraper under the edge of the ice. It should come off in sheets.

Meteorologist Brett Collar explains in this Winter Weather Awareness video

What you shouldn't do

If you get in a hurry and try to melt the ice with hot water, you could crack your windshield.

And don't turn on your windshield wipers until they're able to move freely. The blades could be damaged or break off completely.

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