We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Windshield Washer Fluid?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Feb 07, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Windshield washer fluid is one of many fluids necessary for safe driving. Known as screen wash in the United Kingdom, windshield wiper fluid helps keep a vehicle's windshield clear from such things as dirt, road grime, bugs, and sometimes even frost. Being able to clearly see out the windshield is considered imperative to safe driving.

Depending on the type of fluid used, the liquid will often contain methanol. This is a type of alcohol that is very effective in cutting through thick grime and road tar, making it a very popular addition to many brands of wiper fluid. Ethylene glycol is another common ingredient in these automotive chemicals, especially in those that are meant to help remove frost and ice from a windshield. This chemical is also found in anti-freeze and is used to de-ice airplane wings and runways.

These main ingredients can be quite harmful if ingested by people or animals. If a small amount is ingested, it often simulates the effects of intoxication, causing staggering, sleepiness, and vomiting. Larger amounts could possibly cause blindness, coma, or even death.

Other less toxic ingredients in windshield washer fluid include dye and water. The dye is usually a bright blue color. Water often makes up nearly half of the fluid, except in the concentrated varieties.

Probably the most commonly known way to buy windshield washer fluid is pre-mixed in a gallon jug. Concentrated mixtures, however, can also be purchased. For the everyday consumer, concentrated washer fluid can be found at large chain stores or local automotive supply stores. Larger amounts, anywhere from 5 to 55 gallons (19 to 208 liters), are available for purchase by larger companies that would have a use for such a product, including garages and auto dealerships.

The windshield washer fluid in most vehicles is stored under the hood in a clearly marked reservoir. From there, it is pumped through tubes to a small nozzle or nozzles located just below the windshield, or sometimes on the wipers themselves. After the fluid is squirted or misted onto the windshield, the wipers are activated and clear the windshield. The pump is typically activated when an operator inside the vehicle pushes or pulls a switch, often located on the windshield wiper control. Many mechanics strongly advise against switching on the wipers without any moisture on the windshield, as this can damage the wiper blades, or possibly even scratch the windshield.

To help clear away frost and ice, some car manufacturers have begun producing vehicles that preheat the windshield washer fluid before it squirts onto the window. One of these car companies is General Motors (GM). In 2006, for example, GM began making this a standard feature in one of its Buick sedans. Shortly afterward, however, many of these features were recalled due to a possible fire hazard.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Melonlity — On Feb 04, 2014

Here's something I learned the hard way -- windshield washer fluid that is just fine here in the South might not be worth much in the winter in the North. I learned that when I was in Iowa one December and the high temperature during that week was eight degrees.

By the way, never tell someone in Iowa that it's cold.

"This isn't cold. I'll tell you about cold," they'll say before bragging about how cold it's been at some point. Strange.

At any rate, my windshield washer fluid froze into a solid, blue brick in those frigid temperatures -- something I didn't think was possible. That's a real problem when ice starts to melt, cars splash dirty water all over your windshield and you could really use some windshield wiper fluid that isn't frozen solid.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.