Top 4 Best Windshield Washer Fluids 2024

Best windshield washer fluids
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Not windshield washer fluid but seat belts, airbags and good brakes probably come to mind first when car safety is discussed. However, choosing the right  windshield washer fluid plays a crucial role in keeping your windshield clean to allow a clear view on the road year-round. 

Without this specially formulated glass cleaning fluid, your windshield wipers won’t do much more than smear dirt and debris across your windscreen, and leaving a greasy film behind which often makes things worse. 

A crystal-clear windshield on the other hand, makes a world of difference because with a clear view on the road at all times, you will be able to react in time to prevent dangerous situations and to counter road hazards. 

The right windshield washer fluid may mean the difference between a dirty windscreen full of greasy streaks, bird droppings and bug guts and a confident, safe outlook on the roads ahead. Sometimes, it may mean the difference between life or death. 

Don’t be sorry, but safe! Check out our selection of best windshield washer fluids:

Different types of windshield washer fluid

Windshield washer fluid is a liquid solution specifically designed for cleaning the windshield of a vehicle. It is used in conjunction with the windshield wipers to remove dirt, dust, insects, road grime, and other debris that can obstruct the driver’s view.

The composition of windshield washer fluids is a well-kept trade secret and varies between different types and brands, but they typically consist of a mixture of deionized water as the main ingredient, cleaning agents and fragrance ingredients. Bio-ethanol or methanol is also added to winter- or all-season types of windshield washer fluid, to prevent the fluid from freezing in cold temperatures. 

Because the exact formulas are unknown, it is very difficult to compare them based on their ingredients. The only way to do that would be to have a laboratory do chemical analyses on them, which would cost thousands of dollars. Because windshield washer fluid only costs a few bucks per gallon, this makes no sense, of course…

1. Summer Formulas

These fluids are designed for warm weather conditions. They typically mainly contain cleaning agents to remove bugs, dirt, and road grime. Summer windshield washer fluids don’t contain enough bio-ethanol to be used in freezing temperatures.

2. Winter Formulas

Winter windshield washer fluids are tailored for cold temperatures and offer protection in sub-zero temperatures. They contain bio-ethanol or methanol to prevent your windshield from freezing. It also protects the pump, lines and nozzles from frost damage. It is crucial to use winter washer fluid to prevent ice buildup during frosty mornings. 

It’s important, before changing to a winter formula after summer, that you first empty the windshield washer fluid reservoir before filling it with the winter blend. If you don’t, the mixture of summer and winter fluid could be too diluted and still freeze.

3. All-Season Formulas 

As the name suggests, these fluids are suitable for year-round use in a mild climate. They strike a balance between summer and winter formulas, offering cleaning power and anti-freeze protection in moderate temperatures. The temperature range in which these formulas can be used depend on brand and type. Ensure the fluid’s freezing point is suitable for your region to avoid frozen up lines and nozzles. 

4. Specialty Fluids

Specialty windshield wiper fluids claim to tackle stubborn bug splatter or include water repellent additives for improved water beading. In our experience and from the tests we’ve done over the years, these formulas don’t do a much better job at cleaning your windshield than “standard” formulas. If they are about the same price as competing “standard” fluids, it’s probably worth a shot, but in our opinion you’re most likely paying for the marketing department. 

The cold hard truth is that if you want to get rid of stubborn bug splats, you’ll have to put in a little effort. For all our tips and tricks, you might wanna take a look at our article “How to remove bugs from your car”

Things to consider when buying windshield washer fluid

First of all, if your wiper blades are worn and need to be replaced, you won’t get a clean and streak-free windshield with any product. You want to replace them to get the best results.

Now that we’ve looked at different formulas for different temperatures, let’s take a look at the differences between windshield washer fluid in ready-to-use, concentrated and tablet form.

1. Ready-To-Use Windshield Washer Fluid

Typically sold in plastic gallon-size bottles, this is the most popular kind of windshield washer fluid by far. It’s ready for use (pre-mixed) and available in the widest choice of formulations. 

Pros: 

  • Fast and easy to use
  • Monkey-proof, always the right mixture

Cons: 

  • Takes a lot of storage space
  • Heavy to transport
  • You’re buying mostly water

2. Concentrated Windshield Washer Fluid   

Concentrated windshield washer fluids allow you to mix the concentrate with water according to your cleaning needs. For example: you can use a more concentrated mix for enhanced cleaning power in demanding conditions like at the height of bug season or in winter. Remember that you still have to add bio-ethanol separately for below-freezing conditions to prevent the fluid from freezing. 

A small bottle of highly concentrated windshield washer fluid goes a long way. It’s hundreds of times more space-efficient than ready-to-use fluids and you’ll be doing the environment a favor too, because you won’t have to throw away all those empty plastic gallon jugs. This makes a concentrate more customizable and cost-effective. It’s more eco-friendly than ready-to-use bottles too.     

Pros: 

  • Customizable to your own needs
  • A little goes a long way
  • Takes little storage space
  • Significantly reduces the amount of plastic containers in landfills

Cons: 

  • Not ready-to-use
  • Needs to be mixed according to instructions
  • Not freeze-proof, bio-ethanol has to be added for below freezing temperatures

 

NOTE: We recommend using distilled or deionised water instead of tap water to mix your concentrate. By using mineral-rich tap water, you risk clogging your car’s windshield washer fluid system with mineral deposits over time. The minerals in tap water also diminish the effectiveness of the products added.

3. Windshield Washer Fluid Tablets:

These dry tablets have the least storage volume and are usually packed in a no-spill package. They need to be dissolved in water according to instructions in order to make windshield wiper fluid. Although very budget-friendly and space-saving, this mix will freeze just like ordinary water. For winter use, you would need to add bio-ethanol to make it freeze-proof. You want to first dissolve the tablet completely in a container with water before pouring it in the reservoir, or the tablet might clog up your windshield washer fluid system. 

Pros: 

  • Space-saving
  • Spill-proof
  • Significantly reduces the amount of plastic containers in landfills 

Cons:

  • Not ready-to-use
  • Needs to be fully dissolved in a container before use
  • Not freeze-proof, bio-ethanol has to be added for below freezing temperatures

 

NOTE: We recommend using distilled or deionised water instead of tap water to dissolve your windshield washer fluid tablets. By using mineral-rich tap water, you risk clogging your car’s windshield washer fluid system with mineral deposits over time. The minerals in tap water also diminish the effectiveness of the products added.

4. Antifreeze additive:

To keep windshield washer fluid from freezing in winter, methanol or bio-ethanol (alcohol) is added. The higher the percentage of alcohol in the washer fluid, the lower the freezing point. For example: a 50/50 mix of water with bio-ethanol freezes at -25°F (-32°C). 

Although most alcohols perform similarly to freeze-proof windshield washer fluid, bio-ethanol is the least harmful to the environment and to your health. Methanol on the other hand, is highly toxic for wildlife and biota. This old-school antifreeze alcohol is highly toxic when swallowed, and harmful when inhaled or when it comes in contact with your skin. 

TIP: If your windshield washer fluid is still partially filled with summer fluid without antifreeze when winter comes, don’t discard it. Just add bio-ethanol according to the following reference guide to keep it from freezing.

Ethanol based Water Solutions Freezing Point

Ethanol Concentration (% by volume) 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Freezing Point (°F) 32 25 15 5 -10 -25 -35 -55 -75 -110 -175

WARNING: Bio-ethanol, like any other alcohol, is highly flammable! Keep away from open flames, sparks or hot surfaces! Add only when your contact and engine is switched off and cool and only pour the alcohol using a bottle that is equipped with a flashback arrestor.

How we did our review

Over the years we’ve tried and tested numerous different windshield washer fluids for our cars. Some did an excellent job, others didn’t do so well or even left a greasy mess on our windshield. We learned the hard way not to always trust the beautiful sales pitch on the bottle, especially when it comes to windshield wiper fluids…

For this review we researched tonnes of customer reviews to see what their experience was with the products we liked most. We only recommend windshield washer fluids that did an excellent job for us as well as the vast majority of other car enthusiasts. The products we recommended perform well and leave minimal residue and streaking to guarantee optimal visibility.

We’ve selected windshield washer fluids for different purposes, to make it easy for you to choose the right one for your climate or use. 

Check out our favorite windshield washer fluids:

Best Overall Windshield Washer Fluid

Best Overall
Specs:
  • Type: All-Season formula
  • Form: Liquid
  • Preparation: Ready-To-Use / Pre-Mixed
  • Content: 128 Fl Oz / 1 Gallon
Best Overall
Specs:
  • Type: All-Season formula
  • Form: Liquid
  • Preparation: Ready-To-Use / Pre-Mixed
  • Content: 128 Fl Oz / 1 Gallon

The reason why we chose Prestone 2-in-1 All Season formula for our “Best Overall” is because it is ready to use in hot as well as cold climates, down to -27°F. That means that if you’re living in a moderate climate, you won’t have to change to a special winter formula if you’re using this windshield washer fluid. That’s a big bonus in our book! 

This hugely popular washer fluid does a great job at quickly removing bugs, dirt and greasy road grime. Because of its rain-beading technology, water drops will bead more easily from your windscreen which enables you to see more clearly in rain storms. It’s also safe to use with rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Customer testimonials state that this product does an excellent job at removing bugs and dirt without leaving greasy streaks. The vast majority of users are very satisfied with this product, particularly those who live in areas with wet seasons. They claim it makes a big difference in visibility compared to a standard cheap product.

PROS:

  • Ready-to-use
  • Suited for all climates and weather types
  • Frost-free down to -27°F 

 

CONS:

  • A ready-to-use product is more expensive than concentrate or tablets
  • Takes a lot of storage space compared to concentrate or tablets

Best Budget Windshield Washer Fluid

Best Budget
Specs:
  • Type: Summer formula
  • Form: Tablets
  • Preparation: Dissolved in water before use
  • Content: 100 Tablets (1 tablet makes 1.05 gallon of windshield washer fluid)
Best Budget
Specs:
  • Type: Summer formula
  • Form: Tablets
  • Preparation: Dissolved in water before use
  • Content: 100 Tablets (1 tablet makes 1.05 gallon of windshield washer fluid)

The reason we chose these tablets for our “Best Budget” is that they are hard to beat price-wise, knowing that with 100 tablets you can make over 100 gallons (yes, gallons!) of windshield washer fluid. Knowing that these tablets are wrapped individually and virtually can last forever when stored at room temperature, this one purchase will most likely outlast your car!

Customers say that the tablets do a very good job in removing insect splats. They like the fact that the tablets are individually wrapped in an aluminum wrapper to prevent disintegration with storage. They say that they melt in less than 2 minutes and turn the water blue with a soapy sleek feel that quiets squeaky wipers. They state that the tablets dissolve completely without leaving any solid powder.

What we like most about these tablets (apart from being an awesome deal) is that they hardly take up storage space and you can take them with you anywhere because they are small, individually wrapped and spill-proof.

PROS:

  • Hard-to-beat pricing
  • Space-saving
  • Efficient: you only need 1 tablet per gallon
  • Individually wrapped and spill-proof
  • Climate Pledge Friendly, no plastic bottles to dispose of; significantly reduces the amount of plastic containers in landfills

 

CONS:

  • Not freeze-proof
  • Needs to be fully dissolved in a container before use

Best for Extreme Cold Climates

Best for Extreme Cold Climates
Specs:
  • Type: Winter Formula
  • Form: Liquid
  • Preparation: Ready-To-Use / Pre-Mixed
  • Content: 128 Fl Oz / 1 Gallon
Best for Extreme Cold Climates
Specs:
  • Type: Winter Formula
  • Form: Liquid
  • Preparation: Ready-To-Use / Pre-Mixed
  • Content: 128 Fl Oz / 1 Gallon

Prestone De-Icer windshield washer fluid is the extreme winter protection version of our “Best Overall”. It is specially formulated for use in extreme cold temperatures down to -34°F. This winter formula excels at removing wintersalt and greasy roadgrime. Its streak- and glare-free formulation melts ice quickly, which can really make a difference in visibility, even in the most demanding conditions. It can be used for vehicles with rain-sensing sensors too.

Prestone De-Icer windshield washer fluid has a large fanbase, especially in cold climates where temperatures drop far below freezing. These customers who are living in cold climates confirm that this fluid won’t freeze when you spray it on icy days and they say that it keeps their windshield clear without streaks in harsh conditions. The vast majority of users would recommend this product to family and friends.  

PROS:

  • Extreme low freezing point; the spray won’t freeze on your windshield
  • Removes wintersalt and greasy roadgrime without leaving streaks

 

CONS:

  • A ready-to-use product is more expensive than concentrate or tablets   
  • Takes a lot of storage space compared to concentrate or tablets

Best Windshield Washer Fluid Concentrate

Best Concentrate
Specs:
  • Type: Summer Formula
  • Form: Liquid
  • Preparation: Concentrate, needs to be diluted with water
  • Content: 8 fl oz
Best Concentrate
Specs:
  • Type: Summer Formula
  • Form: Liquid
  • Preparation: Concentrate, needs to be diluted with water
  • Content: 8 fl oz

Qwix Mix Biodegradable Summertime Washer Fluid Concentrate is an easy-to-use and efficient windshield cleaning product. With this concentrated formula you can make 32 gallons of windshield washer fluid with just one 8 oz. bottle. It comes in a small plastic bottle with an “easy-to-measure” dosage reservoir that makes it very handy to mix the right amount of concentrate with the correct volume of water. You simply squeeze 1/4 oz. into the dosage reservoir and mix it with one gallon of water to make 1 gallon and 1/4 oz of high-quality windshield washer fluid. 

Another bonus is that if you have to pay shipment costs, it’ll only be a fraction of what you’d pay to have pre-mixed fluids delivered, because a bottle of concentrate is tiny compared to the volume of washer fluid you can make with it. 

If you live in a colder climate, you will have to add bio-ethanol to prevent freezing. On the back label of the bottle you’ll find a handy mixing chart to add the right amount of bio-ethanol for your climate so you won’t have to figure this out yourself. 

Most customers like the fact that by purchasing this small bottle, they won’t have to buy windshield washer fluid for years to come and it doesn’t take much storage space. They say that it gives them peace of mind too, knowing that this product is 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly and they won’t have to throw away all those empty plastic gallon bottles. They do advise to use protective gloves when handling this product, because it can leave hard-to-remove blue stains on your hands.

PROS:

  • Much less expensive than Ready-To-Use / Pre-Mixed washer fluids
  • Very easy to mix with “easy-to-measure” dosage reservoir 
  • Efficient: you can make 32 gallons of washer fluid with this small 8 fl oz bottle
  • Space-saving
  • Less waste: one 8 fl oz bottle eliminates the need for 32 disposable plastic gallon jugs

 

CONS:

  • Freezes in winter if no bio-ethanol is added    
  • Will stain your hands if you don’t wear protective gloves when mixing  

Comparison Table of the Best Windshield Washer Fluids

Brand Name
Best Overall Prestone Deluxe 2-in-1 Windshield Washer Fluid
Best Budget Sukh Windshield Washer Tablets
Best for Extreme Cold Climates Prestone De-Icer Windshield Washer Fluid
Best Concentrate Qwix Mix Windshield Washer Fluid Concentrate

Final Thoughts

Which windshield washer fluid is the winner? Well, all these fluids do a good job at cleaning your car’s windshield. However, they do differ when it comes to ease of use, ease of storage and transportation and eco-friendliness. Here’s a quick recap:

If you want a quick-and-easy solution without all the mixing and measuring, our advice is clear and simple: If you live in a moderate climate with “normal” freezing temperatures, you’ll love our “Best Overall”. If you live up north where water doesn’t flow most of the year and temperatures plummet way down low, don’t hesitate: it’s our “Best for Extreme Cold Climates” you’ll need.

If you don’t mind mixing your wiper fluid yourself, why not try our “Best Concentrate”? It’s about 500 times more space-efficient than ready-to-use fluids and you’ll be doing the environment a favor too, because you won’t have to throw away all those empty plastic gallon jugs. You can also experiment with different mixing strengths and see what suits you best. You can make a stronger solution in winter and add bio-ethanol, triple the mix’s strength at the height of bug season…

The same goes for our “Best Budget”. These dry tablets are individually wrapped to allow long-term storage and spill-free use. It takes a few minutes to dissolve them in water, but they do what they’re supposed to and are so affordable it feels like cheating… No big gallon jugs to throw away either, and they are “Climate Pledge Friendly”. Don’t forget to add bio-ethanol when freezing temperatures are forecasted though.

Happy cruisin’!

Be safe!

FAQ’s

How to keep windshield washer fluid from freezing?

Add bio-ethanol according to instructions to concentrated windshield washer fluids or tablets to keep them from freezing.

Pre-mixed all-season windshield washer fluids won’t freeze in normal moderate winter temperatures. Ready-to-use “winter” fluids won’t even freeze in extremely low temperatures.

How to unfreeze windshield washer fluid?

Chances are that only the spray heads are frozen. First, you want to try warming those, using a hairdryer. In most cases, that will solve the problem.

If that doesn’t work, your entire windshield spraying system might be frozen, and maybe the reservoir too. The easiest way to thaw it, is to start your engine and let it idle with the hood closed until the heat from the engine unfreezes the windshield spraying system. 

However, this can take a while if your reservoir is completely frozen. When the system has completely thawed, test if it works and inspect for damage or leaks. If everything works as it should, add bio-ethanol (about 1/3 of the total capacity of your windshield washer fluid reservoir) to keep it from freezing again. Make sure it’s mixed thoroughly and keep spraying your windshield until you can smell the alcohol scent of the bio-ethanol. Next time you add windshield wiper fluid in winter, make sure it’s winter- or all-season grade. 

How to check windshield washer fluid?

Look for the windshield washer fluid reservoir under your car’s hood. This translucent plastic tank is situated to the side of the engine bay, away from the direct heat of the engine and has a cap with a windshield and wipers on it. If you can’t find it or you’re not sure, consult your owner’s manual to locate it. Use a funnel to pour the pre-mixed liquid in the reservoir. Fill the reservoir until you’ve reached the “full” mark. Don’t pour unless you’re absolutely confident that you’ve located the correct reservoir. If you’re not, consult a professional.

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