Aaron Widmar
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5 Safe Homemade Alternatives for Windshield Washer Fluid

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windshield wiper blade on car using homemade fluid
Photo: The News Wheel

As a child, you may have noticed a resemblance between brightly colored windshield washer fluid and your favorite sugary drinks, which led you to wonder if that stuff Dad put in his car was as tasty as your favorite blue drink.

If you did have that thought, it’s a good thing you never took a taste! Windshield washer fluid is made of methanol, also called methyl alcohol, and just a couple of spoonfuls 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! Here’s a list of environmentally friendly alternatives to methanol washer fluid that you can mix yourself at home using everyday supplies.


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1. White vinegar

white vinegar bottle cleaning supplies
Photo: The News Wheel

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 — particularly in warm weather. If you use this method, flush the fluid reservoir regularly to avoid damaging the internal components.


2. Rubbing alcohol

rubbing alcohol bottle bathroom first aid supplies
Photo: The News Wheel

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, undiluted form into the fluid tank!

This is one of the homemade solutions Car Bibles recommends.


3. High proof vodka

high proof vodka windshield washer
Photo: Nico via CC

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 that you did with rubbing alcohol. Vodka also works as a homemade de-icer.


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4. Household glass cleaner

window cleaner spray bottle car washing supplies
Photo: The News Wheel

While this substance is not completely natural, it’s much less harmful than methanol. Mix one part glass cleaner to three parts water. Just note that this solution will only work for drivers in warm weather and could damage any glass tinting if the solution is not car-safe.


5. Water

water bottle
Photo: The News Wheel

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 the fluid tank. Pour in a bit of isopropyl if you’re worried about overnight freezes.

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 using homemade windshield washer fluid may not seem like much, but when lessening our impact on the environment, every little effort counts.