5 Things You Can Use When You Don’t Have an Ice Scraper

Don’t let a misplaced or broken ice scraper stop you from clearing off your windshield. Chances are you have several items lying around the house that can substitute.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
Things You Can Use When You Don't Have an Ice Scraper - frozen windshield

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With winter comes snow and ice—covering the grass, on the walkways, and all over car windows. When you walk out to your car to find the window covered in ice, the first thing you’ll want to reach for is an ice scraper. However, it isn’t always that simple. Sometimes you can’t find your ice scraper, realize it is in your spouse’s car, or remember that you never bought a replacement after the old one broke last winter.

Fortunately, there are several everyday items that you probably have lying around the house or garage that can help you out. Just remember to work carefully when clearing the window to avoid scratching it—this also applies when using an actual ice scraper. In a pinch, you can use some common items to clear your windshield if an ice scraper is not available.

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Credit Card

Things You Can Use When You Don't Have an Ice Scraper - man scraping windshield snow
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If there is only a thin layer of ice on the windshield, grab a credit card from your wallet. Use the credit card like a smaller version of an ice scraper. Use the edge to slowly remove small chunks of ice from the window.

You might find that the credit card is too small to easily manipulate while wearing gloves, so your hands could get a little cold as you work. This also might not be the best solution for shorter individuals or those with vans, trucks, or SUVs with higher windshields; your credit card isn’t going to have a long handle like you can find with some ice scrapers.

Rubbing Alcohol and Water

Things You Can Use When You Don't Have an Ice Scraper - hand spraying frozen windshield
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Just as rubbing alcohol can help you melt ice on walkways when you don’t have salt available, it can also help you melt ice on a windshield. If there is snow over the ice on the windshield, you’ll want to remove that first using a gloved hand, broom, or another tool that won’t scratch the windshield. Then, mix a 2:1 ratio of rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture over the entire windshield and let it sit for two minutes. After two minutes have passed, the ice should have turned into slush. Turn on the car’s windshield wipers to clear away the slush.

While this can be an effective solution for removing ice from a windshield, it will not work if the temperature outside is below 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Rubbing alcohol will freeze when the temperatures are this low, so it won’t be of much help when trying to clear your windshield.

RELATED: How To: Make Windshield De-icer Spray

Plastic Spatula

Things You Can Use When You Don't Have an Ice Scraper - spatula ice scraper
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An ice scraper may be one of the best tools for conquering ice and snow, but it isn’t the only thing you can use to clear an icy windshield. A spatula, the same tool you use to flip pancakes and burgers, can also help you get the ice off of your windshield. Metal spatulas could scratch or cause other damage to a windshield, however, so you’ll only want to use a plastic spatula for this task. Controlling a spatula with gloves on will be easier than trying to handle a credit card, too, so you can hopefully keep your hands a bit warmer as you work.

Salt and Water

Things You Can Use When You Don't Have an Ice Scraper - spray bottle windshield
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Salt is spread on roadways to melt snow and ice and prevent them from creating hazardous conditions. It can also be used to melt ice on a windshield. Remove snow from the windshield to expose the layer of ice. Then add three cups of water (at room temperature—not hot) and 1.5 tablespoons of salt to a spray bottle. Spray this mixture over the entire windshield and let it sit for about 5 minutes to melt the ice. Turn on the windshield wipers to clear the slushy remains.

This solution should only be used in a pinch; using too much salt on auto glass can cause tiny abrasions in the surface of the glass, leave behind unsightly mineral deposits, and even weaken the structure of the glass.

RELATED: 3 Ways to Make Your Own Ice Melt

Plastic Dustpan

Things You Can Use When You Don't Have an Ice Scraper - orange plastic snow scraper
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If your garage is near your utility room or storage area for cleaning products, you have an easy ice scraper substitute at hand. A plastic dustpan used with a broom can be turned upside down and used to clear your windshield. Of course you’ll want to clean it off first if it has any remaining dust or debris from your last sweeping session so you don’t add dirt to your windshield as you remove ice. Remember too that the plastic is not as sturdy as an ice scraper, so don’t use too much force. Warming the windshield first with the defroster or a warm water solution would make this option quicker.

Bonus: Don’t defrost too fast.

Turning the car’s defrost on is one of the safest options when it comes to removing ice from a windshield. You won’t need to worry about accidentally scratching the windshield if you let the defrost take care of melting the ice from the inside for you.

But often when people are in a hurry, they turn the defrost way up. Whether you’re in a hurry or not, you’ll want to avoid setting the defrost to the highest temperature option. While this may seem like the best idea to speed up the process, it will expose the glass to a very sudden temperature change, which can cause existing chips or cracks to get worse. Rather, set it to a medium heat and let it run for at least 15 minutes. After this, you should be able to clear most of the ice using your windshield wipers.

RELATED: 16 Winter Emergency Supplies You Should Always Keep in Your Car