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How to demist your windscreen quickly and safely

Here’s how to stop car windows steaming up and the fastest way to demist your windscreen

Gah! You’ve got in your car and realised that the windscreen is all foggy. It only ever happens when you’re in a rush, doesn’t it? We’ll keep this intro short, and tell you how to demist your windscreen as quickly as possible.

Whether your car windscreen is misted over or covered in ice, it’s important to fully clear your windows before you set off. Not doing so will reduce your vision and put other road users at risk – and you could be fined if the police spot you.

How to demist car windows

You’ll be able to demist your car windows by using your air conditioning in conjunction with your heater. Air con isn’t just used to cool your car down on hot days – in wet or humid weather it can also keep the atmosphere inside your car dry. You can make sure your air con is working by seeing if it feels cold when you turn the temperature all the way down.

The instant reaction is to whack the heating all the way up to the hottest setting, but that can actually increase the time it takes to demist your windscreen. Instead, start your heater on cold and gradually increase the temperature. This is because the hot air can be wet at first, and so you’ll initially be adding moisture and not taking it away. Saying that, if you’re cold you’ll want to turn the heat right up – just accept it might take a bit longer than gradually increasing the heat.

Quickest way to demist your windscreen

Many modern cars have climate control, or automatic air conditioning – the giveaways are an ‘auto’ setting and a windscreen heating button. Pressing this windscreen button is a quick way to demist your windscreen. A few cars, such as the Ford Fiesta, have heated front windscreens, but most direct a blast of air at the base of the windscreen. Many electric and plug-in hybrid cars allow you to precondition the cabin before you get in if the car is charging.

How to demist a windscreen without air con

If your car isn’t blessed with air conditioning, you can demist your windscreen by opening your windows. This probably isn’t what you want to hear on a cold morning, but cold, dry air from outside can help to get rid of some of the moisture inside the car. This can help if your windows get foggy when you’re on the move as well as before you set off.

How to stop car windows steaming up

It can be hard to stop your car windows steaming up in certain weather, but you should make sure that your air conditioning system is working as it should. If the air con doesn’t come out cold or you’re finding it hard to clear the windscreen, you may need an air con regas from your local service centre, which typically costs between £50-£100.

Alternatively, you could buy a demister pad and keep it in your car. These vary from super-cheap sponges from a supermarket to things that look like hot water bottles with absorbent crystals inside. Some car dehumidifiers are electric – they clear the condensation quickly but can be noisy and need recharging – but many are bags that you can place on the dashboard and keep in the glovebox when you’re not using them.