Can You Use Water As Washer Fluid?

You might consider using water instead of windshield wiper fluid in your vehicle for several reasons. Some washer fluids contain chemicals that potentially seep into the water table to pollute the environment. Other washer fluid ingredients can damage your vehicle’s paint or chrome over time. Maybe, you are just in a pinch and need to clean the windshield when no washer fluid is available. So, is it OK to use water as washer fluid? We’ve researched to get the answer for you.

If you must, you can use water instead of windshield washer fluid, but only if you are in a warm climate, where it will not freeze. If water freezes inside of your vehicle, it can cause severe damage, costing thousands of dollars to repair. If you choose to use water to wash the windshield, make sure to use distilled water because tap water contains minerals that will make your windshield dirty and clog the wiper fluid lines.

Keep reading because we dig deeply into how water compares to washer fluid. We will discuss how water compares as a cleanser, how to prevent frozen wiper reservoir, lines, and nozzles, and divulge some of the best types of washer fluid for stuck-on bugs, streak-free clean, water-repellant properties, and extreme winter temperatures. Plus, if you prefer to use water, we’ve got some great homemade washer fluid recipes to keep your windshield gleaming and your wiper components working.

Woman's hands open lid for check water in reservoir for cleaning windscreen of her car, Can You Use Water As Washer Fluid?

Water VS Washer Fluid: What To Consider

Using water would be cheaper than buying washer fluid, but using washer fluid is often more effective. There are many types of washer fluids on the market for different purposes. Some are concentrates that require you to mix with water. It is always best, whether mixing or adding directly, to use distilled water to avoid gathering mineral deposits from tap water into the washer reservoir, wiper lines, or nozzles.

Cleaning Agents

Washer fluid typically contains detergent, a better glass cleaning agent than plain water, to improve visibility through the windshield. Stuck-on dirt on the windshield causes glare from the sun during the day and from headlights or other lights at night. A dirty windshield makes it very difficult to see and dangerous to drive.

Certain kinds of washer fluid can repel water, making it easier to see while you are driving in downpouring rain.

Other wiper fluids are good for cleaning bugs off the windshield. Anyone who has taken a drive through the country in the summertime knows how difficult it can be to clean bugs off the glass.

Temperature-specific

Make sure you have temperature-specific fluid in your vehicle if you go somewhere with below-freezing temperatures because both regular wiper fluid and water will freeze. Temperature-specific washer fluids contain ingredients that prevent the reservoir, wiper lines, and nozzles from freezing in cold weather. Check the label to see what temperature the fluid will freeze at, and check the weather to see how cold it is going to be. Some washer fluids freeze at zero degrees Farenheight, and others freeze at -27 degrees Farenheight.

If you do have to use water in an emergency, and you know there’s a chance it might freeze, replace the water with washer fluid as soon as possible. When water freezes, it expands, breaking the windshield washing system’s components, a potentially time-consuming and expensive repair. 

Environmentally Friendly

Certain chemicals, commonly used in washer fluid, are detrimental to the environment. Environmental awareness has led many people to start making their washer fluid by using water mixed with household ingredients. We’ve got great washer recipes on the way for you, just below.

Because consumers prefer environmentally friendly products, many washer fluid manufactures have stopped using harsh chemicals, such as toxic isopropanol alcohol, used as an antifreeze agent. If you want a safer option, we’ve got the best biodegradable washer fluid brands for you, listed later on.

What Is Washer Fluid Made From?

Windshield washer fluid contains a variety of toxic chemicals used to clean the glass and prevent the liquid from freezing. Each manufacturer makes its fluid with a different formula, but all types are similar. Most washer fluid is made from methanol, poisonous alcohol. Sometimes manufacturers add ethylene glycol, another kind of toxic alcohol. Different washer fluids have other ingredients based on the intended use. Formulas meant to withstand extremely low temperatures differ from formulas meant to clean bugs.

Can You Mix Washer Fluid?

It is not recommended to mix different kinds of washer fluids. Some fluids are concentrates meant to combine with water. Be sure to read the label before purchasing and using these products, so you know what you are putting in your vehicle.

Can I Make My Own Washer Fluid?

There are many different recipes for washer fluid alternatives made from household ingredients. Homemade washer fluid does not contain the harsh chemicals that all commercial fluids include. However, be aware that if you use a cleanser or detergent, you should check the label to identify any chemicals.

Making your washer fluid tends to be cheaper than buying commercial types. As you will soon see, most ingredients are already located in your home. Make sure you use distilled water for each of these mixtures.

  • Mix one part white vinegar with three parts of water.
  • Mix one part high proof vodka with three parts of water.
  • One part glass cleaner with three parts of water.
  • One part isopropyl alcohol with three parts of water.

Here is a recipe for another homemade washer fluid using detergent:

  1. One gallon of distilled water
  2. One tablespoon of dishwashing detergent
  3. Half a cup of ammonia
  4. Add food coloring to identify the mixture (optional) 

You can also substitute vinegar if you do not have ammonia. Or if you could use this recipe:

  1. 16 ounces of rubbing alcohol (or high proof vodka)
  2. One tablespoon of dishwashing detergent
  3. One gallon of water

Can You Use Windex Instead Of Wiper Fluid?

You can use Windex or generic window cleaner instead of washer fluid, but when it gets too cold, it will freeze and ruin the inside of your vehicle. It would better to keep some Windex and paper towels with you, and whenever you stop, use it to clean the windshield. For cleaning on the go with Windex, make sure if you only travel in a warm climate.

What Is The Best Windshield Washer Fluid?

Sometimes you need the best product for a specific job, so we’ve found several top-of-the-line washer fluids to help narrow your search. Whether you need to get bugs off or see clearly during extreme temperatures, this list has the right washer fluid for your vehicle. We’ve also found biodegradable formulas for ultimate cleaning power that is environmentally friendly.

1. Prestone AS657 Bug Wash Windshield Washer Fluid

This is the best washer fluid for cleaning bugs off the glass. Its powerful cleaning formula also cleans bird droppings, sap, and most things that stick to your windshield. This product prevents bugs and other debris from sticking to the glass after use. It also has water-repelling properties, so water runs right off the glass while driving in the rain.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

2. Prestone AS658 Deluxe 3-in-1 Windshield Washer Fluid

All-season 3-in-1 will not freeze in cold temperatures and keeps ice off the windshield during wintertime. In the summertime, it is useful for cleaning off bugs and road grime. It also prevents dirt from sticking to the glass, and it is water-repellent. At the time of this post, however, this product is not currently sold in California or Texas.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

3. Qwix Mix Biodegradable Windshield Washer Fluid Concentrate

One bottle of Qwix makes the equivalent of 32 bottles of wiper fluid, which will save you money in the long run. It is also biodegradable, which is good for the environment. The bottle has a dosage reservoir, which helps you easily mix the concentrate by measuring carefully. All the instructions, as well as a mix-ratio chart, are on the bottle. In the winter, add methanol per the instructions to prevent it from freezing.

Click to see this washer fluid on Amazon

4. Prestone AS658P All-Season 3-in-1 Year-Round Windshield Washer Fluid

Prestone all-season 3-in-1 will not freeze in down to zero degree temperatures. It is useful for getting rid of the ice and snow on the windshield. It also can clean bugs and grime off the glass during clear weather. Prestone uses less dangerous chemicals in the formula to protect the environment. Be aware, at the time of this post, this product is not sold in California.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

5. Nextzett 92100815 Kristall Klar Washer Fluid 1:200 Concentrate

This bottle makes over 12 gallons of washer fluid. It keeps prevents streaking and helps the wipers glide smoothly over the glass. It also contains water softeners, so if there is hard water in the reservoir, the mineral deposits will not clog up the lines or nozzles.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

In Conclusion

Sometimes it may be best to go with water instead of washer fluid. Just do not put anything in your vehicle that will freeze if you drive during cold weather because it will cause numerous headaches down the road. You can also make your washer fluid if you’re trying to save money. When given a choice, it may be better to go with traditional windshield washer fluid for optimal, streak-free clean. It all just depends on your situation and what is best for you. Please, keep a clean, clear windshield and drive safely. 

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