Can I Use Windex as Windshield Wiper Fluid?


Open Windex Bottle over Washer Bottle in a Car

I ran out of windshield wiper fluid the other day and had just went down a few dirt roads. My windshield was coated with dust and I was looking for a solution. Someone suggested Windex as a temporary solution but I wasn’t sure if it was wise. So I did some extensive research and the findings shocked me, so I decided to share them here with you.

Windex should not be used in place of store-bought windshield washer fluid. In fact, Windex may damage the rubber and plastic components within the washer system and other hardware on your vehicle. However, a few inexpensive homemade mixtures are safe and work just as well as windshield wiper fluid.

Read on to learn more about why Windex should not be used as washer fluid. I will also give you an easy recipe to make your own replacement solution.

Can Windex Be Used as Wiper Fluid?

Windex is a cleaning product commonly used in households clean glass and mirrors. Additionally, it is used to clean hard-surfaces that contain tough stains. Mainly consisting of the chemical ammonia, it is also known for its disinfecting abilities.

Unfortunately, when applied to rubber and plastic parts such as your washer nozzles and wiper blades on your vehicle, Windex will likely inevitably dry out these important components. Furthermore, Windex will slowly erode the parts, ultimately leading them to become detached from their housing units.

The truth is, although an excellent product for your home, Windex should not be used as a wiper fluid replacement.

Windshield Washer Fluid Ingredients vs. Windex

Most windshield washer fluid products contain ingredients such as methanol and ethylene glycol. These alcohols have the cleaning power and ability to remove stubborn dirt and grime that has accumulated on your windshield.

Engineered for harsh weather, these alcohols are strategically included due to their unique properties that withstand freezing temperatures while being gentle to your vehicle’s paint and wax coating. With a tolerance of more than 10 degrees below zero, windshield washer fluid ingredients will do the job without failing in the most jarring of conditions.

Windex, on the other hand, may contain up to 10% of ammonia–an enemy of rubber, plastic, and wax.

This means that your vehicle’s paint is at a high risk of being stripped and permanently damaged. Although it may disinfect a surface, Windex will slowly tear into your internal wash hoses and damage your windshield washer system. Also, if used in the heat, it will surely leave annoying streaks all over your windshield. The fact is, Windex is not a product specifically made for vehicle use.

Can I Add Anything to Windex or Dilute It?

Even diluted, Windex may still harm your vehicle’s wax coating and, worse, your precious paint. Not to mention the inevitable annoying streaks left across your windshield, which poses a driving hazard.

Homemade Windshield Washer Recipe

Try this homemade alternative to windshield washer fluid.

In a bucket, mix:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of dish soap
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar

Mix well and add to your windshield wiper reservoir until almost full. Ensure you clearly identify your windshield wiper reservoir before adding liquid. Always trust, but verify!

Additional tip: Store your remaining mixture place into an empty gallon jug and label appropriately. Although non-toxic, keep away from the reach of children.

The mixture will not damage your paint nor leave a streak. However, beware that this homemade alternative will not perform as well in the colder weather as a regular store-bought windshield wiper fluid would.

What Else Can I Use for Windshield Wiper Fluid?

If you are looking for a more complete product to replace your windshield wiper fluid indefinitely, there is a mixture that has a near-exact replica of effects when compared to store-bought wiper fluid:

These are the ingredients you will need:

  1. 3/4 gallons of water (jug container is ideal)
  2. 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon of dish soap
  4. 1 cup of rubbing alcohol or distilled vodka of choice

Label the jug container for future use if you have extra. Ensure to keep away from the reach of children.

Is It Ok to Use Water Instead of Windshield Wiper Fluid?

Water is a cheap, quick, and easy temporary alternative to windshield wiper fluid. Unfortunately, on its own, water does not contain any cleaning abilities to help your wiper blades effectively remove any excess dirt or grime. It will be incredibly difficult–if not impossible–for water to remove caked-on residue from your windshield.

So, although safe, water will not get the job done on its own. Instead, if possible, mix the water with a bit of white vinegar and a few drops of dish soap for a quick remedy that contains a bit more oomph.

Final Thoughts

I was actually surprised by these findings. I’m pretty sure it’s common practice for a lot of people to throw Windex in the washer bottle of their car. I guess this is good news for the makers of gaskets, hoses, and windshield wipers but terrible for those that want to practice proper maintenance on their vehicles.

I hope this article has helped!

Thanks for stopping in.

By the way, you may also be interested in my article on whether WD-40 is safe to use on car paint. Be sure to check it out!

Jim James

Jim James spent most of his childhood outdoors fishing on lakes in his area. Due to his scouting background, he has always been interested in survival, camping, and the outdoors in general. Jim is a best-selling author and has a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. He lives with his family in Charlotte, NC.

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