5 Safe Homemade Alternatives for Windshield Washer Fluid
As a child, you may have noticed a resemblance between brightly-colored windshield washer fluid and your favorite sugary drinks, which compelled you to speculate, “I wonder if that stuff Dad puts in his car is as tasty as my favorite blue juice.”
If you did have that thought, good thing you never gave it a taste! Windshield washer fluid is made of methanol, also called methyl alcohol, and just a couple spoonfuls of it can be fatal.
Now, think about that toxicity as every car around the globe sprays it off its windshield to drain into the ground and sewers along the road. Can you imagine how many bottles of fluid that amounts to? Sure, the liquid is necessary to drive in snowy, dirty, and freezing conditions, but is there an alternative we could be using?
Good news: there is! We’re proud to present a list of environmentally-friendly alternatives to methanol that you can mix yourself.
1. White vinegar
According to Autoblog, this all-natural substance won’t freeze in cold temperatures and is known for being an effective glass cleaner during the winter. Dilute one part distilled white vinegar to three parts water to ensure that the acidity won’t affect your car’s paint or mechanical components.
Keep in mind that the ratio shouldn’t be any higher than this, since vinegar can be corrosive, especially in warm weather. If you use this method, flush the fluid reservoir regularly to avoid damaging the internal components.
2. Rubbing alcohol
Like vinegar, isopropyl alcohol also cleans dirt off of windows and is freeze-resistant. To dilute it, mix three cups with one gallon of water. Be sure not to ever put this flammable liquid in its pure form into your fluid tank. This is one of the homemade solutions Car Bibles recommends.
3. High proof vodka
True, it’s a shame to waste good vodka to wash your windshield, but it is a comparable substitute for isopropyl if you’re low on options. Follow the same instructions above.
4. Household glass cleaner
While this substance is not completely natural, it’s much less harmful than methanol. Mix one part glass cleaner to three parts water and toss in a spoonful of dishwasher fluid for good measure. Just note that this solution will only work for drivers in warm weather.
If you’re in a bind and need something to keep the dust from the road off your windshield, a couple of cups of pure water in the tank should be enough to keep the grime away. Just be absolutely sure you’re in warm territory before making this decision, as frozen water can break your fluid tank. Pour in a bit of isopropyl if you’re worried about that.
You can also add liquid castile soap to most of these mixtures for an extra boost of cleanliness. Or, you can combine them to form your own solution (like one gallon of water, one cup of glass cleaner, and a half cup of rubbing alcohol). Small steps like this may not seem like much, but will lead to fewer impacts on the environment.
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.