This Dangerous Car “Winter Hack” Could Cost You Thousands of Dollars

By: Lauren | Published: Jan 21, 2024

As winter arrives in full force, people around the world have to undertake the tedious task of defrosting their car windshields every morning.

And while the internet is full of apparent helpful tips to do so, there are some hacks circulating that are actually very risky and could end up costing people thousands of dollars in car repairs.

The Plastic Bag Hack

One of the most popular defrosting hacks spreading around the internet is that of the plastic bag filled with hot or boiling water.

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Person using a plastic bag of warm water to defrost a car windshield

Source: @PhoneRepairsUK/YouTube

The idea is to rub the bag over the front of the windshield where the stubborn frost sits, and within seconds, drivers will have a frost-free car ready to hit the road.

Why the Plastic Bag Trick Is so Dangerous

Although the plastic bag tactic may actually work, experts say it’s extremely dangerous as when the windshield transitions from freezing cold to extremely hot in seconds, it could lead to cracks in the glass.

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Giant crack on a car windshield

Source: Freepik

They also say that, sometimes, the cracks aren’t visible at first, but they will slowly grow over time, resulting in major breakage. Of course, a cracked windshield is not only incredibly hazardous for drivers, but it also is quite expensive to replace.

Never Use Boiling Water on Car Windshield

Experts also want to make it clear that even if a driver was going to ignore this advice and use the plastic bag method because they were in a rush, there is one thing they should absolutely never do.

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Man boiling water on the stove

Source: Freepik

And that is to use boiling water on the windshield. This will almost certainly lead to immediate or future cracks in the glass.

Why Are Cracks in a Windshield so Dangerous?

It’s important to note that while replacing a car windshield because of cracks can cost thousands of dollars, it’s also incredibly dangerous.

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Several small cracks in a car windshield

Source: Freepik

Even the smallest splinter in the glass could result in a completely shattered windshield in the event of even a minor crash, sending shards of glass on to the driver and passengers.

The Potato Hack Isn’t Great, Either

Another defrosting hack has gone viral in which the driver uses half a potato to almost immediately get rid of unwanted frost. For this trick, all someone needs to do is cut a potato in half and rub the inside of the potato on the inside of the windshield.

Hands holding a basket of various potatoes

Source: Freepik

However, while the potato may get rid of the frost, it will also leave behind a starchy residue, which hinders the driver’s view. So again, experts say to skip this seemingly easy-to-use hack.

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What Is the Safest Way to Defrost a Windshield?

Most experts agree that the best way to handle a frosted windshield is to use a defroster spray specifically made for that purpose.

Person using defroster spray on a car windshield

Source: Shutterstock

This is the safest, easiest, and most efficient way to get rid of frost. And fortunately, defrosting sprays are available at most home improvement or grocery stores, as well as online.

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How to Use Defroster Spray on a Car Windshield

All one needs to do to quickly remove all frost from a windshield is spray the glass with the defroster while making sure to observe the instructions on the bottle and not overuse the spray.

Woman cleaning snow off her car with a plastic brush

Source: Freepik

Then, use a plastic scraper or bristle brush to remove the quickly-melting ice and snow. If there is some excess water, don’t use a cloth as it will likely leave marks behind. Instead, use the windshield wipers when all the snow has melted.

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Never Use a Metal Scraper

For anyone who lives in colder temperatures, it’s crucial to have an ice and snow scraper in the car at all times.

Woman cleaning snow off her car with a bristle brush

Source: Freepik

Make sure that the scraper is made from plastic, not metal, as the metal could crack the windshield as well. Additionally, remember to gently use the plastic scraper, as aggressive movements could also cause cracks.

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Plan Ahead and Skip the Frost All Together

After hearing that most of the “winter hacks” for frosted windshields could actually be quite dangerous for the car, one might consider investing in a windshield cover instead.

A quilted cover sits on a car's windshield to prevent frost

Source: Amazon

They are available at most major retailers, and are an affordable and convenient way to avoid frost altogether. In the morning, all one needs to do is remove the cover, put it in the backseat, and drive.

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Don’t Rush the Defrost Process

Realistically, unless someone has used a windshield cover, defrosting the glass will take a bit of time; in fact, the expectation is that it takes about 15 minutes to safely remove all frost.

Car windshield completely frosted over

Source: Freepik

So whether one is using a scrapper, defrosting spray, or the heat of the car, it’s important to start the morning a little earlier on frosty days.

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Never Drive Without Completely Defrosting the Windshield

The last tip from experts, in addition to skipping the plastic bags of hot water and potatoes, is to ensure that all the frost has been completely melted and removed before driving.

Man driving a car with limited visibility

Source: Freepik

Although it may be tempting to get going if there is a small patch to view out of, it’s incredibly dangerous for the driver as well as others on the road.

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