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How To De-Mist Your Car's Windscreen Quickly

As Autumn deepens, rains become more frequent and the temperature starts to drop as we inevitably head towards wintertime.

With the cold and damp comes an annoyance for drivers; a misted-up windscreen. Yes, it's surprising how something so seemingly inconsequential can exasperate us so much!

Fogged up windscreen

Jump in your car ready, already late for work, and from the moment you turn the key, the windscreen mists over like some giant has just breathed all over it. This is because the temperature of your body has instantly warmed the car just enough for that cold glass to react to the heat.

Sometimes it seems like it takes an age to clear, and even wiping it over with a cloth does very little, and it soon returns. So, what's the answer? Below, I'll discuss both how to demist your windscreen quickly, and what products are best to use, and what not to do...

Note: before setting off, make sure your windscreen is clear of condensation. It is illegal to drive with impaired vision. The law states: "windscreens and windows MUST be kept clean and free from  obstructions to vision". If not, it can lead to to a fixed penalty fine of up to £2,500 and 3 points on your licence! Worth the few extra minutes waiting for the glass to clear? Nope.

What NOT to do to clear mist

Many drivers are simply not ready for when the colder weather hits, and you'll often see some of these cardinal sins being committed both at a standstill and, stupidly, whilst driving.

  • Do not use the sleeve of your jacket or jumper to try to clear the condensation. The material won't be absorbent, and this will only lead to smearing, and the condensation will quickly return.  That smearing also equals impaired vision if the sun is low.
  • Do not just drive off in the hope that the glass will clear quickly as the engine heats up and the warm air starts to come through. It's dangerous and could lead to an accident, or you being fined heavily if the rozzers spot you. Wait a few minutes, use the products below, and then set off when it's cleared away.

How to efficiently de-mist your windscreen

  • Already, I can hear some of you smugly saying you have a heated windscreen. Yes, they're the best invention since sliced bread - I agree - and if that's the case, you're fortunate enough not to have an issue with clearing the screen.demisting a windscreen
  • Note: If you really hate de-misting your windscreen, then I recommend buying yourself a car with that feature. Actually they heat both inner and outer glass, so they also melt ice and snow.
  • If you car has air conditioning, turn that on and the temperate up high. Also, there's usually a 'screen only' setting so select that to ensure all 100% of the air is directed at the glass. Closing your dash vents also helps to produce an even more powerful airflow.
  • The air con dries the moisture while the hot air helps to  evaporate it. Keep the hot air for a good while, and then slowly bring down the temperature to avoid the screen misting up again.

Products and aftermarket gadgets that will help de-mist windscreen

If you car is a bit older or a more basic spec and it doesn't have climate control or air con,  it often takes a good long while for the glass to clear, as you're basically then using just heat to try to dry out the moisture, and you'll likely need the help of another product if you actually want to get anywhere that day. As per the first point though, make sure to aim all airflow at the glass to help things along.

  • First off, one easy way to help keeping the glass clear of misting is to keep it clean. If it's grimy, the condensation can grab a hold of the dirt easier. It's also safer in helping with glare from the low sun, as mentioned in this Chipex post.
  • An easy way to clear the glass quick is with either a highly-absorbent microfibre cloth - check out this one from Chipex. Expect to pay around £5.00 - £8.00 for a decent quality one.
  • A cheap - yet highly effective - product for removing condensation from your windscreen is a de-misting pad, which come in two materials: microfibre or leather. They're usually readily available from your local petrol station, but in my experience, some work much better than others so it can be a case or trial and error. Expect to pay around £1.50 - £2.00.
  • There are products you can buy and use on your windscreen that work with the specific intention of protecting your glass against condensation. You simply use the products while you're cleaning, and they leave an invisible coating behind that will act as a barrier between the cold air and glass. Chipex's own Hi-Clarity Anti-Fog spray is coming very soon - make sure you check back to our Shop to snap some up for yourself as soon as it's available!
  • Ultimate finish anti fog treatment gyeon q2 antifog Gyeon Q2 AntiFog treatment pack.
  • There are also aftermarket ceramic car windscreen heaters, which plug into your 12-volt lighter/accessory socket, sit on your dashboard and then produce hot air to clear your glass. However, a bit of research shows that these do not work very well at all, and are vastly underwhelming in the heat they do produce. Not recommended, but if you're super-desperate for heat...

The main thing here is to stay safe as winter approaches and your glass starts to mist on an almost daily-basis. Hopefully, by avoiding some of the bad habits, and using the above products, you time de-misting your screen will be cut dramatically, and you'll have an easier and less stressful drive ahead of you.

Written by Chris Davies - an award-winning motoring journalist writing for CarProductsTested.com

Photo credits: Malinaccier, Fogged up screen; Reuben Whitehouse,  de-misting windscreen; Ultimate Finish, Gyeon Q2 AntiFog kit.