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Make Your Own Windshield Wiper Fluid

A few nights ago, on our drive home, I remarked about the dirtiness of my wife’s windshield. That’s when she told me she’d been driving without windshield wiper fluid for a few weeks! At first I was a little surprised, then I realized it was the summer. Not having windshield wiper fluid in the winter is very dangerous, in the summer it’s only a mere inconvenience.

That’s when we started trying to guess what was actually in windshield wiper fluid. You can pick up a gallon of the blue/orange/green stuff at Wal-Mart for around $2, so we figured it couldn’t be anything too expensive. When we got home, I started research online whether it’s possible for us to make windshield wiper fluid and wasn’t surprised to find out that we could.

Windshield Wiper Fluid Recipe

Did you know that the US Department of Health and Human Services keeps a Household Products Database [3]? It contains Manufacturer Safety Data Sheets on a variety of products, including windshield wiper fluid [4].

For each product, you can see all of their ingredients. For example, Rain X Plus Bug Remover Premium Washer Fluid [5] has methanol, 2-butoxyethanol, water, and Siloxanes and silicones. Note that it’s less than 6% methanol (used to prevent icing), 1-5% of 2-Butoxyethanol (used to remove bugs), and 90-95% water.

Want to make it yourself? Find those products and mix in those percentages.

Other recipes I’ve found online are even simpler. Combine three cups of regular household window cleaner (like Windex) with a gallon of water. Mix and pour into your windshield wiper fluid tank/reservoir. If you want a slightly greener version, another recipe I’ve found uses water and white vinegar, though I’m not sure how effective that is and what effect the acidity of the vinegar will have on your washer system.

One warning about homemade windshield wiper fluid, at least homemade without methanol or some sort of anti-freeze agent, is that there is a risk that the fluid will freeze. If it does, it could mean a very costly repair bill for your entire windshield washer system.

Ultimately, while making your own is probably a little cheaper than buying it from the store, you don’t really get a better product or a less wasteful product, so we won’t be making our own. Wal-Mart will get our $2 per gallon on this one. 🙂

Have you ever made your own windshield washer fluid? If so, any lessons learned or tips to make it worthwhile (either from a financial or environmental perspective)?

(Photo: solidaltar [6])