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Can You Put Water into Windshield Wiper Fluid? Types, Reasons, & DIY

pouring wiper fluid

Every car has windshield washers, which means that every car will need wiper fluid in order to operate. Windshield wiper fluid helps to remove things like dead bugs, debris, and ice from your windshield, all in an effort to ensure your visibility while on the road.

One of the most common ingredients in windshield wiper fluid is methanol. However, most formulas contain other alcohols and cleaning agents to break down enzymes and debris that may fall on your windshield. But, can you simply add water to your windshield wiper fluid? Will it work just as well? The answer is not really. There are some wiper fluids that are concentrated and require dilution with water, as well as other formulas that come in powdered form and require water. While you can add water to windshield fluid, it may decrease its effectiveness.

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Can Water Be Added to Windshield Wiper Fluid?

Using plain water won’t have the same cleaning power as a specialized cleaner for cleaning windshields. It can remove bird droppings, road grime, and other random debris. Windshield washer fluid has ingredients that are designed to remove stubborn stains and spots.

Methanol is a common ingredient in most window cleaning products. Washer fluid contains ingredients that work together to provide streak-free, clean windshields no matter what the temperature outside.

So it’s best not to use plain water for this task. While it may be better for the environment (and safer for your finish), it may not be effective for keeping your windshields clean and clear–especially during winter months.

In fact, you’ll find that the water will simply freeze on the windshield if it’s not already frozen inside the fluid reservoir. However, if you prefer to make your own wiper fluid, there are a few homemade windshield wiper solutions that you can make at home.

Wiper Fluid
Photo Credit By: NOTE OMG, Shutterstock

Types of Windshield Wiper Fluid

There are many types of wiper fluids. Each one is designed for a specific purpose, which means that some will be more expensive than others. Before choosing the best formula, it’s best to consider your driving conditions, regional weather, and the season.

Traditional Wiper Fluid

Everyday wiper fluid will suffice in many cases, especially in warmer months. This wiper fluid is often sold at gas stations, convenience stores, and local supermarkets. If you live in an area with moderate weather conditions, it will usually work for removing everyday grime, dirt, and debris.

man pouring wiper fluid
Photo Credit By: Georgy Dzyura, Shutterstock

Bug-Removing Wiper Fluid

This formula is especially effective for drivers who live in rural areas with roads that are more prone to bugs and birds. It is highly concentrated to help dissolve dead bugs, bird droppings, and other debris that may fall on your windshield. It’s intended for summer and warm-weather driving. For increased visibility, you might consider looking for formulas that are listed as “streak-free”.

De-Icing Wiper Fluid

Normal windshield washer fluid can freeze in its reservoir, or when it is sprayed onto your windshield during extreme weather conditions (below zero degrees Fahrenheit). Winter-specific windshield washer formulas usually contain higher levels of methyl alcohol to prevent this.

This gives them a lower freezing temperature so that they don’t freeze in the tank. If you live in an area with brutal winters, consider topping up your windshield washer fluid by using a de-icing formula around late November to help reduce potential issues with an icy windshield.

woman pouring wiper fluid
Photo Credit By: K Quinn Ferris, Shutterstock

Water-repelling Wiper Fluid

Although these solutions aren’t technically considered “windshield washer fluids”, they can be useful additions to your car’s window care toolkit. These solutions are designed to improve visibility and repel water and snow while driving. You can find these solutions in spray bottles, ready-to-use liquid forms, and wipes.

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The 4 DIY Wiper Fluid Ideas

You can also make your wiper fluid right at home. Keep in mind, any solid wiper fluid will need alcohol to prevent it from freezing. The alcohol will also help to dissolve debris stuck on the windshield. For extreme winter conditions, ensure that your alcohol content is at least 90%. And the best way to prevent freezing in your wiper fluid reservoir is to actually use a minimum of 99% alcohol.

1. Diluted Windex (or Any Window Cleaner)

Windex is one of the simplest solutions that you can use for windshield fluid, as it contains ammonia and other cleaners that can help break down grime on your windshield. Consider mixing one part glass cleaner and three parts water to make a quick windshield wiper. If you need something a bit stronger to help remove dead bugs and bird droppings, add a few drops of liquid dish soap.

spraying homemade cleaner in the car
Image Credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya, Unsplash

2. Vinegar Wiper Fluid

Vinegar works well with pollen removal and is also safe to use. Vinegar is effective and perfect for drivers concerned about toxic chemicals and the environment. It can leave behind a strong odor and white vinegar is the best choice as any other vinegar can leave a residue on your windshield. To create this solution, add one part of distilled vinegar and three parts of water. That’s all you need!

3. Dish Soap and Ammonia

This wiper fluid is ideal for windshields that are subject to a lot of heavy dirt and mud, so if you drive on a lot of open roads, it may be perfect for you. To create this solution, combine one tablespoon of liquid dish soap with one gallon of water and 1/2 cup of distilled pure ammonia (with no additives).

You may even want to use half a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid if it’s concentrated. The solution should not be thick at all, as this can cause such to develop on your windshield. If your solution creates streaks, try experimenting with different brands of dish soap. Always test the mixture until you find a solution that is suitable for your windshield.

dish soap
Image Credit: Jim Barber, Shutterstock

4. Castile Soap and Rubbing Alcohol

Castile soap is also a great solution to use as wiper fluid. It contains no harmful chemicals, is environmentally safe, and is fairly effective at breaking down debris from bird droppings, dead bugs, and dirt that can cloud your windshield.

Castile soap is also safer than many store-bought windshield wiper products and other products, as it’s safe for your car’s paint finish. To make this formula, mix eight ounces of rubbing alcohol and one gallon of distilled water. Then, add a tablespoon of regular castile soap. During extremely cold weather, you’ll need to adjust the alcohol content to improve anti-freezing capabilities.

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Windshield wiper fluid is essential for every vehicle to improve driving vision and ensure safety while on the road. If you are running low on fluid and in a pinch, you can add distilled water to the reservoir to help the fluid last longer.

However, it’s always best to use traditional wiper fluid. You can also create your own wiper fluid using everyday home products such as vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and ammonia. It’s best that the solution has some alcohol in it to prevent freezing.


You may also be interested in: How Often Should I Change the Differential Fluid in My Car?

Featured Image Credit: Tricky_Shark, Shutterstock


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