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Choosing the Right Windshield Washer Fluid

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It’s easy to dismiss windshield washer fluid as something unimportant — until it’s time to clean up one of nature’s little surprises. It’s crucial that your car is equipped to wipe up whatever mess the road throws at you, so keep these specialized cleaners in mind the next time you buy a gallon of brightly colored washer fluid.

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  • Classic Blue: It’s the old standby you can find at every gas station. While it’s the jack-of-all-trades when it comes to washer fluid, you’ll have to use a little more to scrub off dead bugs. And while it might not be the fastest way to de-ice your windshield, it’ll get the job done. Make sure to check its temperature rating before you pour, because when it gets cold, washer fluid can freeze in your car’s lines and cause serious damage. If you’re looking to save some money, buy it in concentrated form and mix it up with some distilled water.
  • De-icing: If you live in a chilly climate, this ice-busting washer fluid will keep your windshield free of frost. It’s also typically safe down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit, but check the label to be sure. If snow and ice are only an occasional concern, consider spray-on alternatives before you invest in a whole gallon.
  • Bug Remover: While it’s billed as a bug remover, it’s also great for cleaning up tree sap, pollen, and bird droppings. It costs a little more than the other options, but if you’re braving a long summer road trip in the midst of a cicada swarm, it’s probably worth a few extra bucks. If you don’t want to invest in a whole gallon, consider buying a concentrate and mixing up as much as you need to get you through the summer. Swap it out in the winter, because it tends to freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • All-season: Get the best of both worlds with this double-acting formula. It can power off bugs and grime, while also removing snow and light ice. If you live in a cold area, be mindful of the temperature rating; some formulations are rated to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, while others are safe down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your windshield still isn’t coming clean, try replacing the wiper blades. And if you’re more of the do-it-yourself type, check out our feature on homemade alternatives to commercial windshield washer fluid.

More Winter Tips: How to store your vehicle in the winter so that it’s ready for springtime driving