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Windshield washer or wiper fluid helps keep the windshield clean and clear, but there are issues about its overall safety. Some opt for DIY windshield washer fluid alternatives for peace of mind since they know the solution’s exact components. Homemade solutions are also more affordable than commercially available ones.
But what are safe and effective DIY windshield washer fluid alternatives that you can make at home? Car owners and experts suggest different solutions, but there are seven that stand-out. Some of them are perfect only for cold or hot weather, while others are considered an all-weather formula.
Apparently, how effective the solution is will depend on how well you prepared it. Following the procedure to the T also ensures you won’t damage any parts of your car that it goes into contact with, such as the fluid reservoir. So let’s start learning how to prepare seven of the best homemade windshield wiper solutions and the right time to use each of them.
What Is a Good Substitute for Windshield Wiper Fluid?
The tried-and-tested windshield washer fluid substitutes recommended by many car owners are easy to make at home. You will also find most of the ingredients in your kitchen cabinet, so you really don’t need to be a chemist to prepare them.
For all the fluid mixtures discussed below, you would need the following:
- Water: Use distilled water as much as possible since it’s free from mineral contaminants that might clog your car’s spray pumps and nozzles. However, you can use tap water if you have no access to distilled water, such as during emergencies. Just keep in mind that you must drain the fluid and replace it as soon as you can.
- Large Jug or Any Container With a Spout and Lid: Choose a clean container with a minimum capacity of one gallon and a quarter (160 ounces).
Windshield Washer Fluid DIY Solutions for Hot or Warm Weather
The most important reason you must carefully choose the products you use during hot or warm weather conditions is fire. Remember that some compounds or elements will combust when exposed too long to or upon contact with heat.
With that in mind, here are three homemade solutions that you can safely put in your car’s washer reservoir when the climate is hot and/or warm.
1. Diluted Window or Glass Cleaner
The diluted window or glass cleaner is perfect for the summer season and the warmer days of spring and autumn. It is best to choose a glass or window cleaner that doesn’t leave any residue, suds, or streaks when used.
A highly recommended product is Windex, but the DIY windshield washer fluid recipe discussed below is also applicable for any brands of glass or window cleaners.
How To Make Windshield Washer Fluid With Windex
- Fill the container with one gallon (128 ounces) of water.
- Add at most one cup (8oz.) of Windex or any glass or window cleaner of your choice.
- Replace the lid and carefully shake the solution.
- Perform a dab test.
How To Do a Dab Test
Dab a little amount of the prepared solution onto a clean cloth or rag and then wipe it on one of the car windshield’s corners.
If it gives it a clean streak, then you’re good to go! If not, you can either add more water or change the cleaner used.
That’s why you must carefully choose the window or glass cleaner, or use the one you’re already familiar with, to prevent wasting money, time, and effort.
2. Soap-Window Cleaner
When you regularly drive around dirty or dusty areas, combining two cleaners’ cleaning properties would be perfect for your windshield.
For this mixture, apart from the window or glass cleaner of your choice, you would also need liquid Castile soap. This type of soap is best because it’s biodegradable and non-toxic. It also has a natural moisturizing effect that can keep your windshield glass’ clean and shiny.
That said, you can use mild dishwashing liquid that doesn’t leave any residues and lather too much.
How To Make Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid With Soap and Window Cleaner
- Follow step numbers one and two above (window cleaner solution).
- Add three to four drops of Castile soap or dishwashing liquid. Ensure you control the drop so that you don’t add too much; otherwise, the solution becomes too foamy and can leave soap stains or streaks on your windshield.
- Replace the container’s lid and carefully shake the solution. If it becomes too foamy, then add more distilled water. However, you’ll end up with a too diluted solution, decreasing its cleaning power.
- Perform a dab test.
If it’s too foamy or leaves a streak on your windshield, add more water to dilute the soap and window cleaner.
3. Diluted White Vinegar
Vinegar is a product considered as an all-around kitchen and window cleaner. With a lot of vinegar in the market, though, white vinegar is the right choice since it doesn’t leave any stains or residues.
In contrast to the first two DIY solutions, this is best used only during the warmer days of spring and autumn, not during the summer. That is because vinegar produces a foul odor when exposed to high temperatures. This is also the best windshield cleaner for areas with lots of pollen.
How To Make Homemade Windshield Wiper Fluid With White Vinegar
- Put 12 cups of water in your one-gallon container or six cups for a two-liter vessel.
- Following a one part vinegar to three parts water ratio, add four or two cups, respectively, of vinegar to the water.
- Replace the lid and carefully shake the solution.
For this DIY fluid, make sure you strictly follow the correct ratio since vinegar is still mildly acidic. If you fail to dilute it correctly, it can corrode some parts of your vehicle.
If you’re wondering, “Does vinegar freeze?”, yes, it does, but it has a lower freezing point than water. As such, when the temperature during the colder months of spring and autumn hits closer to the winter temperature, make sure you perform a freeze test before using it.
How To Do a Freeze Test
All you have to do is transfer enough amount of diluted vinegar to a cup and then leave it outside overnight. If frozen upon checking in the morning, you can tweak the solution by adding alcohol (discussed below).
DIY Winter Windshield Washer Fluid
You can protect your Jeep or any vehicle from snow and rain while parked, thanks to your six-layer, all-weather car cover (Check Amazon for Price). However, your wipers and windshield would need the assistance of a windshield cleaner to melt the ice and remove it from your view while driving.
Hence, it’s important to add an anti-freezing agent, usually alcohol, to a windshield washer fluid DIY mixture. Doing so will ensure the wiper fluid won’t freeze and end up clogging some parts of your car. In fact, most commercially available windshield cleaners contain methanol, which is a strong form of alcohol.
For DIY solutions, you must use milder forms of alcohol. After all, the reason you’re making your own washer fluid is to use safer products.
Rubbing or isopropyl alcohol would be the best choice. 70% for not too cold weather conditions, while 99% for extremely low temperatures. Vodka is also a great alternative, which usually has 40% alcohol content.
4. Vinegar-Alcohol Solution
We already know that the answer to “Does vinegar freeze?” is a yes, but vinegar has a great ice-melting property. If you add alcohol to it, then you not only have a solution that won’t freeze but one that would easily melt ice.
How To Prepare a Homemade Windshield Cleaner With Vinegar and Alcohol
- If you still haven’t prepared a diluted vinegar windshield cleaner, just follow the diluted vinegar procedure above.
- Add one cup (eight ounces) of isopropyl alcohol or vodka.
- You can also add 1/8 cup (one ounce) of liquid Castile soap to the solution.
- Perform a dab test. If it doesn’t give a clean streak, add more water and alcohol.
- Perform a freeze test. If it still freezes, you can add another cup of alcohol. Then, test again. If it still doesn’t work, consider DIY windshield cleaner number five.
5. Window Cleaner-Alcohol Solution
Window cleaner also freezes at a temperature lower than the freezing point of water. Adding one cup of alcohol to the already diluted window cleaner (alternative number one) can solve the problem if you prefer this over vinegar.
Don’t forget to perform both dab and freeze tests and tweak the solution accordingly. Add more water and alcohol if it doesn’t give a clean streak, and add alcohol if it freezes.
Mixed-Climate Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid
All-weather washer fluid alternatives are great for those who want a somewhat universal solution. A fluid that won’t freeze at a low temperature and cause any fire when exposed to warm temperature. This is perfect for the spring and autumn seasons since the climate can be both warm and cool.
6. Ammonia and Soap Solution
For this windshield cleaner, ammonia serves as the anti-freeze agent. You would need surfactant-free, additive-free ammonia and soap that isn’t too foamy. Again, Castile or mild dishwashing liquid is highly suggested. This solution is best for people traversing off-road terrains since it can clean mud easily.
How To Prepare Homemade Windshield Cleaner With Ammonia and Soap
- Find a well-ventilated area to prepare the solution and wear gloves and mask since concentrated ammonia can be dangerous. Once diluted, though, it becomes safe to use as a cleaner.
- Place one gallon of water (128 ounces) in the container.
- Add at most one tablespoon of Castile soap or dishwashing liquid.
- Replace the lid and shake.
- Take off the lid and add half a cup of ammonia.
- Put the lid back on and shake.
- Perform a dab test and add more water if it leaves streaks or stains.
7. Soap-Alcohol Combination
Compared to the previous one, this is a safer but less powerful DIY windshield washer fluid recipe that you can use for most weather conditions.
How To Make a Universal Windshield Cleaner With Soap and Alcohol
- Place one gallon of water in the container and add one cup or eight ounces of isopropyl alcohol or Vodka.
- Put the container’s lid on and shake well.
- Remove the lid and add a teaspoon of Castile soap or mild dishwashing liquid.
- If you feel like the climate is a little colder than usual, add one more cup of alcohol to the solution. Perform a freeze test, and if it still freezes, you must consider the alternative fluids for winter we discussed above.
- Put the lid on and shake well.
Windshield Washer or Wiper Fluid Alternatives: The Conclusion
Undoubtedly, your off-road vehicle will get dirty at the end of the day and while driving, which is actually one of the beautiful and fun parts of the adventure. Likewise, the dirt isn’t just confined to its underbody and all-terrain tires (Check Amazon for Price) since it also reaches the top areas, including the windshield.
This is where the windshield washer or wiper fluid comes in. It helps wipe off dirt and debris from your windshield easier and quicker, giving you a clear view anytime, anywhere. Plus, you can use DIY solutions if you’re not so into commercially prepared products.
The seven homemade windshield wiper fluid solutions discussed above can work safely and effectively when prepared meticulously. Keep in mind, though, that since they’re not really meant for vehicles, unlike the commercially prepared ones, you must make sure you keep the following things in mind:
- Drain the washer reservoir regularly and replace the fluid.
- Before replacing the fluid with another solution, such as from winter fluid to warm-weather fluid, make sure you drain the reservoir completely.
- Avoid using products that lather too much or create sud.
- Always perform a freeze and/or dab test before using the solution.
Have a squeaky clean windshield, and don’t forget to have a mechanic check your car regularly!