How to Defog Your Windshield in a Pinch

how to defog your windshield

Written ByStacy Nass

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If you’ve ever been faced with a fogged up car, you know how much of a pain it can be to get rid of the problem. The good news is that there are several different ways to do it.

The bad news is that most of them take time and patience. That might not sound like a huge deal in the winter when your windows don’t need to be clear for months on end, but in the summer heat any delay in clearing up your windshield will have you feeling miserable faster than you can say “sunroofs are so overrated.”

The best way to defog your car window? Well, if we had all day and nothing else going on we might go ahead and recommend the microwave method, but if you’re in a hurry here are a few fast ways to clear up your car windows.

On what?

First off, you need to know that these methods will work on any kind of window (other than tempered glass) such as your front door or picture windows at home.

Is there a way to defog your windows that doesn’t involve leaving your car?

Yes. If you have access to the outside of the glass, like if you’re parked off-road or at home, simply go outside and give it some direct sunlight for 10 minutes or so. The heat will do its job quickly and you can stay warm inside your car while the window dries out. Your car windows  defog fast when you use the sun!

How do I use a defogging solution to clear up fog on my windshield?

On a sunny day, coat your windows with a defogging solution and give it some time before wiping off the excess moisture. You can usually find these solutions at gas stations or convenience stores.

Defogging solutions are usually safe for your car’s exterior, but if you want to be extra cautious it’s best to use them on the inside of the car windows. This will keep you from inadvertently smearing streaks across your windows while you wipe off excess fog. If you’re dealing with cold air,  the solution may freeze to the glass, so make sure you apply it inside your car first. Cold air fogging your windows?  Heat them up with a hair dryer. In humid air,  the solution may lead to condensation rather than defogging the windows, so it’s probably best not to use any sort of treatment at all in these conditions. Humid air fogging your windows? Just run the air conditioning. Same goes for hot air.  When you have a temperature difference between the inside and outside of your car, that’s when you run into problems. When dealing with hot air,  use a can of compressed air to blow away excess moisture from your car window.

Don’t have any defogging solution handy? Just pour some regular old water onto your windows and watch it clear up instantly. While not as effective as a dedicated defogger, plain water is still pretty good at clearing up fog on car windows.

What’s this I hear about cooking water or shaving cream?

Never heard of them! Well, if you want to stick with old school methods there are plenty of people who swear by either cooking water or shaving cream. The jury’s still out on whether or not it really makes a difference in defogging your windows, but some drivers will tell you that a few drops of water on the outside of the glass will immediately clear up your windshield while cooking water or shaving cream on the inside might do the trick. If you’re interested in trying this method, squirt a couple of gentle drops of water on your car windows and wipe it off with a damp towel. Your car windows defog fast if you use cooking water!

Or, if the shaving cream method sounds more your thing, coat your windows with a layer of shaving cream and then wipe it off. You’ll need to use some serious elbow grease in order to get the whole mess cleared up before you go down the road, but you might find that having soft, soapy water between your car windows and the towel does a better job of clearing up fog than regular old water.

Some guys swear by using shaving cream as a defogging solution, but make sure it’s not aerosol . The can might be pressurized and you could end up with a mess on your hands.

How to defog when you’re parked at home

It’s always best to defog your windshield while you’re still in the car, but if you can’t get back into the vehicle for some reason, just wait until nightfall and follow these steps.

Find a defogging device that works with your car windows. Most people use chemical devices to clear up fog on car windows, but some drivers will point out that heating your windows with a hair dryer can do the job too.

Turn off all of the heat in your car. Turn down the thermostat, or better yet, turn off your car’s heater altogether if you can handle just a little bit of cold air. You want the inside of your car to be as close to room temperature as possible.

Open your windows and let the cold in. You want to lower the humidity levels in your car, so it’s best not to leave the windows closed for long periods of time. If you have a defogging solution on hand, sprinkle just enough onto your car windows to get the job done.

The best way to defog your windows in the middle of a cold day

If it’s cold outside, you want to defog your car windows before you take off. There are a few things that drivers can do in order to prevent fogged up car windows when they have no heat to clear the moisture with.

Open the window slightly and crack open a window in your house or apartment if you live in the city. Driving with your windows open slightly lets cold air into your car while opening a window in your warm house or apartment does the same thing.

While you’re defogging the outside of your car, turn on the defroster inside . You probably have a switch that turns on your car’s heater and windshield wipers already. Turn it on and let the hot air blow through your car for a few minutes before taking off.

By turning on the defroster, you’ll be pushing warm air over your car windows in order to clear away any excess moisture. When you turn on your fog lights too, you might be able to see out of your windows at last.

Ways to avoid having foggy windows in the first place

Of course the best way to avoid foggy car windows is to be proactive. If you’re driving with your defroster on, don’t open the window for any reason unless you absolutely have to. You want dry air in your car, not cold and wet air.

If there isn’t a clear difference between your car windows and the air outside, turn on your defroster. If it’s far too cold to keep the defroster on all of the time, at least leave it on every few minutes so you don’t have to deal with foggy car windows at all.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your car windows from fogging up can be a real challenge. However, if you know how to properly defog your car windows, it isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. Remember that the best way to prevent foggy car windows is to take preventative measures when you start out. If there’s nothing you can do but deal with fogged up car windows, use some of the solutions we suggested to clear things up quickly.

Happy (fog-free) driving!