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Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid: More Green than Blue


By Mike Brandolino

Winter driving in many parts of the United States is treacherous. Drivers must contend with freezing rain, ice, snow, slush, and road slop. All of these conditions add danger to running errands or commuting. A dirty, hazy, or road-slop-covered windshield or windscreen makes it even worse.  It is an absolute must to have a clean windshield at all times, especially during the winter months.

Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid: the Environmentally Friendly Alternative

A simple and environmentally friendly windshield washer fluid can be made using just a couple of household items.  In a clean one-gallon plastic milk jug, mix one-half (1/2) to one (1) pints of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and one tablespoon of any liquid grease-removing dish detergent. Fill the jug with water, cap, and shake well.

Now, place the mixture in your vehicle’s windshield washer fluid reservoir. Test your homemade and environmentally friendly windshield washer fluid mixture, as you usually operate your vehicle’s windshield washer system. You will see the clean!

Isopropyl alcohol is a much safer alternative than methanol (methyl alcohol), which is in the “blue” commercial products.  If you read most any commercial windshield washer fluid product labels, you will see a “hazard” warning. Methanol (methyl alcohol) is a hazardous chemical and should be used with caution.

Another green and eco-friendly alternative is to use distilled white vinegar instead of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. However, if you choose to use vinegar, which is an old-school cleaner for nearly everything, it may freeze in the windshield washer fluid reservoir.  So, a vinegar and water solution may be more suitable for warmer climates or warmer months in colder climates. Also, vinegar does have a characteristic odor that may not be desired.

If you choose to use the vinegar and water solution, a mixture of between 1:1 and 3:1 parts vinegar to water and a small bit of liquid dish detergent. Do not use too much detergent because it may leave a residue on your windshield.

Remember this, it does not matter how clean your windshield is if you are distracted, talking on your cell phone, or texting while driving.  Sierra Club Green Home implores you to pull over to the side of the road and out of traffic if you need to make a call or send a text.

Drive Safely. Drive Defensively. Arrive Alive.

For related articles, see:
Green Your Home with Environmentally Friendly Cleaning
Cleaning Products That Are Environmentally Friendly

© 2012 SCGH, LLC.

13 Responses to “Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid: More Green than Blue”

  1. AOK Says:

    To be clear, are you saying 1/2 pint water to 1 pint rubbing alcohol mixed with 1 T. liquid detergent? Or are you saying 1/2 gallon water to 1 pint rubbing alcohol mixed with 1 T. liquid detergent?

  2. Mike Brandolino Says:

    Use approx 1/2 pt (8 oz) to 1 pt (16 oz) rubbing alcohol


    1 tablespoon dish detergent


    enough water to fill the 1 gal container….

    shake well and add to windshield washer system.

    I hope this helps?

    Safe travels!


  3. Cheryl Says:

    Thank You!!!! I knew there had to be some alternative to that nasty stuff from the store! Living in Western New York, a good de-icer is pretty much a necessity. Now if I could just find a reliable environmentally friendly anti-freeze….[I don't the stuff I've seen in the stores that advertise as "environmentally and pet friendly" the genuine article?]

  4. MT Says:

    Our Honda Element manual says not use vinegar in the windshield wiper fluid system because it could harm something in the system (I think it was the tubing – can’t remember for sure). I don’t see how vinegar could be harmful but that’s what it says.

  5. M.J. Says:

    I wouldn’t use vinegar. Vinegar is my primary household cleaner and I’ve seen spray bottles whose gaskets and spray mechanisms have disintegrated from vinegar.

    It only seems to affect certain types of plastic, but vinegar might be an expensive mistake.

  6. jake Says:

    I was told not to use soap so is there anything I can substitute for soap? I was told by a mechanic that soap can gunk up the system and can be an expensive fix when it does. I was thinking just alcohol and water but not too sure on that, can I get some feedback?

  7. triplejjj Says:

    how will the alcohol and soap aolution affect the car paint and the rubber of the windshield wiper blade? Fade the paint? Shorten the life of the wiper blade? Please advise.

  8. J. Young Says:

    Isopropyl alcohol is made from petroleum… would it be more environmentally friendly to use vodka or everclear instead?

  9. Tyler Says:

    The best and easiest way to make your own windshield washer fluid is to buy the qwixmix concentrate. For only $8 you can get a gallon of concentrate that makes over 500 gallons of washer fluid, saving you time, money and the hassle of trying to mix everything yourself. Go to to order, products ship the next day!

  10. Mike Says:

    Vinegar is a bad idea with steel because over time it will corrode. I have seen it happen in as little as a year depending on the concentration.

  11. swatson7856 Says:

    This is an amazing alternative. No streaks!

  12. Peter Says:

    I have to use an Interlock device while driving for the next 6 months. It basically detects alcohol on your breathe however It will also detect alcohol in the air. The use of winter windshield washer fluid sets the device off and must be reset by the installer.
    I need another cleaning solution that can be used.
    Please help!!!

  13. deceiving Says:

    DO NOT USE distilled white vinegar AS A DE-ICER SOLUTION.
    I tried to use this solutions as many website recommended so.

    The vinegar water mix of 3:1 will frozen in minutes.
    I bought 8 gallons of distilled vinegar, mixed them with water with 3:1 composition.
    It also will clogged your car’s windshield sprayer’s hose.

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