How to demist your car windows fast

In the colder months, misty car windows can be very irritating and are also a safety hazard. Here’s how to clear the window fog quickly

Peugeot 208 windscreen detail

It is an unavoidable fact of life that, as winter draws in and the outside temperature plummets, car windows suffer more from an increase fogging-up. While easy-going folk may be able to shrug this off, the majority of motorists will find the process of demisting car windows tedious and time consuming, often tempting them to endanger other road users and pedestrians by driving without properly clearing their windscreen. So the question then, what is the fastest way to demist your windscreen and other car windows?  

Unfortunately, this is not the easiest of questions to answer. Everyone and their mum has a theory about which settings to use, as a car’s air-conditioning, air recirculation, heater, and also the windows, all contribute to how quickly it demists. Therefore, we have collected our experience to outline what we think is the best course of action.  

Winter driving tips

Below are the top tips on how to clear your car windscreen and side windows, so you can have many miles of safe motoring:  

• Turn your heater up to 11: While it will take a few minutes to warm up, the benefits for when it does are huge. Firstly, warm air absorbs more water than cold, and also, you will get to heat up too.

• Turn your air-conditioning ON: AC dries out air, meaning it will absorb more liquid from inside your car.

• Turn OFF air recirculation: Air outside your frosty cabin is cold, and therefore doesn’t contain as much water vapour so will help in demisting.

• Open a window: Again, this brings in the dry air from outside – ready to be warmed up and absorb moisture. You don’t need the window all the way down, just a crack will do.

• Stand outside the car: Your breath is warm and wet – and doesn’t help the demisting process. Don’t just leave the car with the keys in to demist on its own, as it has been known for opportunist thieves to hop in and drive away a demisting car.

Following these steps will get you on the road as quickly as possible on those chilly mornings.

Of course, sometimes automatic systems are the most effective – many modern cars have a ‘demist’ button, or even a heated front windscreen that uses heater elements in the screen to clear the screen in moments.

There are a few other tips you might want to try as well. Many companies sell anti-fog solutions that you apply to the inside of the windows to stop them misting up in the first place. A cheap alternative, and possibly an old wives' tale,  is to rub your windows with shaving foam, as this is supposed to work just as well.

Another trick is to stop the car getting humid in the first place. It's possible to buy a small dehumidifier box which can absorb the moisture before it hits the windscreen. Or, if you're on a tight budget, try filling up an old sock with absorbent cat litter and tying off the end.

Whichever approach you choose, remember not to move off until your glass is clear. It’s dangerous and if your visibility is impeded, it’s illegal.

Winter driving tips

Less speed, more smoothness • Using ABS brakes correctly • Controlling understeer and oversteer • Driving in snow - top tips • Driving on ice - top tips • Driving in floods and heavy rain - top tips

What are your top tips for driving in winter weather? Let us know in the comments section below...

• Winter tyres - are they worth it?• How car servicing can save you money• The DIY car maintenance you can't ignore• Main dealer servicing - a complete guide• How to check your car engine coolant level

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