Are you ready for a little disclosure? I have a secret obsession with car washes. Although you wouldn’t know it by looking at my dirty car, I’m always scoping out car wash locations with the best coupons/prices, the best pre-wash, the coolest scrubbies, the friendliest employees, free vacuums, and a guy at the end who buffs your car dry at no extra charge.


My family noticed this obsession long before I was willing to admit I had a problem.

I’m in recovery now, so I try to focus just on my windshield. (Ok, not true, but I had to segue into the windshield issue at some point.)

Lately we’ve been running out of windshield fluid in our cars every few weeks. Nobody told us that when we moved south we would have a perpetual layer of yellow dust all over our cars.

I’ve recently been informed that the area we moved to has one of the most consistently high pollen counts in the country. True or not, I look like I’m leaving a trail of magic fairy dust behind every time I drive away.

Since I need to be able to see the road when I’m dusting the town with my special fairy blend, I mixed up my own windshield washer fluid that is cheap, non-toxic, and can be used to clean other things.


Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid

Non-toxic Windshield Wiper Fluid

You will need:

Pour the rubbing alcohol into the empty jug. Fill the jug with water, leaving room for the soap. Slowly add the soap and optional food coloring to the jug. Cap the jug and gently tip upside down a few times to mix ingredients. Pour windshield wiper fluid into the correct compartment under your car hood.

UPDATE: If you live in a colder climate, use 99% isopropyl alcohol in the winter to prevent the washer fluid from freezing. You’ll also want to double the amount of alcohol used for extreme cold weather. 

Reasons to make your own

  1. Commercial windshield washer fluid is poisonous – It’s made with methanol, which the National Institute of Health lists as a poisonous alcohol that can cause significant damage even in small amounts.
  2. Homemade is much less expensive – Stores in our area list a 16 oz. bottle of rubbing alcohol at $0.88, a 32 oz. bottle of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap at $13.00, and a gallon of commercial windshield washer at $3.16 per gallon. This calculates to a cost per gallon of around $0.90 for our recipe versus $3.16 for the commercial brands, a savings of more than 350%.
  3. What are your reasons? Don’t limit this to my imagination, leave a comment with other creative reasons to make your own.

A few notes:

  • Use this wiper fluid to clean the rest of the windows in your car or your home.
  • It also works great to clean countertops and shine faucets!
  • Always remember to label your homemade concoctions.
  • The alcohol will keep this from freezing, for stronger anti-freeze protection in severe cold weather, add more alcohol.
  • Old gallon jugs from vinegar make the perfect container for storing your homemade windshield formula.

Car wax removal info

Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is used to remove car wax at a ratio of 1:1 (1 part water to 1 part alcohol). This recipe calls for a dilution of 16:1 (16 parts water to 1 part alcohol), so should not have any effects on the wax. However, we have not tested to see whether this dilution has any damaging effect on vehicle wax because we do not wax our cars. Therefore, if you wax your vehicle, test on a small area before pouring solution in washer reservoir and using.

*******


References and Resources

Print Friendly

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for us to support our website activities, we may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this website.

DISCLAIMER: Information on DIY Natural™ is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk. Read full Disclaimer & Disclosure statements here.

Comments

  1. Lauren says

    Awesome!!! I’ve been wondering lately how to make a good natural carwash soap. Any thoughts?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Just use hot water and a little castile or vegetable-oil based liquid soap! Most “green” liquid dish soaps should fit the bill. :)

  2. melody says

    You answered a question I had this week when I ran out of washer fluid. Perfect timing as I have all the ingredients and the need. Love your posts.

  3. says

    I’ve been using the dishwasher detergent about 2 weeks and I’ve noticed I have coffee stain in my white cups. I still have the scum on my glasses also. What should I do to correct this? Thanks

  4. Stacey says

    i have been using vinegar for my windows at home. i was thinking about using this in the car too since it does such a great job. do you think it would work ok for washer fluid if i live in a place where it never freezes?

  5. tameka says

    thanks for sharing this–thanks for thinking this up! do you know of anything i could add to the mixture to have rain water bead up (like rain-x)?

    • candida says

      Cut an onion in half and rub it on your windshield, then rinse your windshield off. The onion oil will cause the water to bead up. Not sure if the soap in the windshield washer fluid would break it down quickly or not, but it works well!

  6. julie says

    Rubbing alcohol cane remove the wax from your car so be careful also if you mix 50% rubbing alcohol with 50% water add a few drops of coloring in it double bag it with a freezer bag then put in freezer alcohol does not freeze so this makes a gel type freezer pad great for kids booboos

  7. Deena says

    Where can I find ‘liquid castille soap’? Also, our WalMart doesn’t carry Borax or Washing Powder either (rural north Florida). I really want to make my own laundry detergent with your recipe. Can you tell me where else I might find these items also? Thank you!

    • says

      Find castile soap at your local healthfood store or co-op. Look around at different hardware stores and supermarkets for borax and washing soda. If you cannot find it there you can buy it online; there are links in laundry article.

      • Linda says

        Soda ash can be purchased at any garden center. It is the same as washing soda. Cheaper too since it comes in much larger quantities.

    • Faye says

      Deena, I looked several time, at my Walmart, before I finally spotted it. It was with the laundry detergent, on the top shelf. Unlike the detergents, it had one small row, so it’s easy to miss. They also carry the Fels Naptha soap, but, so far the only place I’ve found the Washing Powder was at the Kroger store where my daughter lives. I do know if you google it (Arm & Hammer Washing Soda) you can find places that sell it online.

      Hope this helps

    • Ginny says

      I live in Florida too and I bought everything at Publix. And the Castille soap was in the natural foods aisle.

    • Patricia says

      You can contact Arm & Hammer toll-free at 1-800-524-1328
      Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET.
      I’m sure they can give you a list of stores in your area that sell their Washing Powder.

  8. Deena says

    Thank you, Matt! I didn’t think of Lowe’s….maybe they’ll carry the borax and washing soda on their cleaning aisle. We do have a small GNC store so I’ll look there for the castile soap. No co-ops here. :) I appreciate your help!

  9. SHEILA SILVETTI says

    If rubbing alcohol takes the wax off a car, can white vinegar be substituted for the rubbing alcohol [in your homemade windshield cleaner]? I THINK vinegar is safe for paint? Please rsvp.

    I LOVE your homemade products. I began by using white vinegar to my laundry rinse cycle [to manage static cling]. I am also using my own small cloths adding essential oils for the clothes dryer instead of those store-bought fabric softeners with all sorts of chemicals! Thank you!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Substituting vinegar should work, but you’ll want to leave out the soap (which the vinegar will break down). And be careful not to use it if temperatures drop to freezing where you live, or the formula could freeze and cause problems. Congrats on transitioning to your own products/cleaners! :)

    • says

      Like Betsy said, it’s all in the dilution rations. Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) can remove vehicle wax at a ratio of 1:1, but this recipes dilutes the ration to 16:1.

  10. Doris says

    Time for a little disclosure is right! LOL! If the windshield is not clean I won’t drive the car until I can clean it. I have a Toyota highlander with the 3rd wiper on the back and I love it. My kids have their own cars and I drive them from time to time. They will immediately let me know if the windshield is dirty or they get a lecture when I return. (crazy). The rest of the car can have a mud mask on it. I just need the windshield Completely clear. Hows that for issue? LOL. I am so happy you posted this Betsy. I live in South Carolina and I feel your pain. How does it do with the bug basting we get down here?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Oh, that’s hilarious Doris! I’m picturing your vehicle crusted with mud, with you peering out of a sparkling clean windshield. :) This formula seems to do fairly well with bugs too!

  11. Wendy says

    How long have you been using this? My dad, who is a mechanic, just warned me about putting any kind of soap in my washer reservoir. He said it can cause it to stop up. He had to unstop mine and I had used an off brand washer fluid. Just wondering if this would happen.

  12. Melissa says

    Please do not mix soap with vinegar. It’s chemistry… The acid and base will react to create water and salt, leaving oil on it’s own floating in the mix. You definitely don’t want that in your reservoir. It’s also a waste of good soap and vinegar. :/

      • says

        I am confused , in the recipe for your window cleaner there is vinegar and soap – but in this post, Melissa says that is not a good idea to do that. Not sure if I am having a moment or if I missed something! lol

        • Betsy Jabs says

          Thanks for pointing this out…I need to make a note in the article for the window cleaner. Vinegar will break down castile soap. Going to make changes now!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      It’s very diluted, and shouldn’t be a big problem unless your car sprays out a TON of washer fluid which runs all over the place.

  13. says

    You made me chuckle because nobody told me about that yellow layer of pollen on the windshield when we moved south either. I love the idea of non-toxic wiper fluid I can make myself as we use it so often. Castille soap is good for so many things!

  14. BlogShag says

    OMG!, I had no idea that commercial windshield washer fluid was made with those ingredients! Love this formula. A little goes a “looooong” way, and it’s so cheap. This solution can also be used a light general cleaner as well

  15. Chad says

    This a great recipe just an FYI the alcohol can take the adhesive off of your tinted windows, or any decals that you might have on the back of your car. So don’t use this formula with the windows down if some can gets in the car it will ruin your tint film. And if you have a rear window wiper be careful because it will remove the decals you might have on your vehicle.

  16. Dave says

    Read below RUBBING ALCOHOL is not as bad as Methanol but still dangerous
    INTRODUCTION

    Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol, 2-propanol, propan-2-ol) is commonly used as a disinfectant, antifreeze, and solvent, and typically comprises 70 percent of “rubbing alcohol.” People ingest isopropyl alcohol to become intoxicated (ie, ethanol substitute) or to harm themselves. When ingested, isopropyl alcohol functions primarily as a central nervous system (CNS) inebriant and depressant, and its toxicity and treatment resemble that of ethanol.

    Fatality from isolated isopropyl alcohol toxicity is rare, but can result from injury due to inebriant effects, such as untreated coma with airway compromise, or rarely, cardiovascular depression and shock following massive ingestion. Supportive care can avert most morbidity and mortality. It is important to differentiate isopropyl alcohol poisoning from methanol and ethylene glycol, which are more dangerous. Isopropyl alcohol does NOT cause an elevated anion gap acidosis, retinal toxicity (as does methanol), or renal failure (as does ethylene glycol). (see ‘Differential diagnosis’ below).

    This topic review will discuss the diagnosis and management of isopropyl alcohol intoxication. A summary table to facilitate emergency management is provided (table 1). Discussions of other toxic alcohols and a general approach to the poisoned patient are found elsewhere. (See “Ethanol intoxication in adults” and “Methanol and ethylene glycol poisoning” and “General approach to drug poisoning in adults” and “Approach to the child with occult toxic exposure”.

      • Cheryl Eustice says

        Right Ginny.Most of us would mix this and use it outside.Just make sure it is well labeled and away from children’s reach.Where my husband worked,they used isopropyl alcohol diluted with water to keep their huge windows shiny and smear free and that was at a factory.I live in the northeast so I would use the alcohol instead of vinegar and no,we are not one big city.The pollen we can get all the way from Florida.I live on a very dusty road.

  17. SteveR says

    Don’t use this recipe if you live in a cold climate. Rubbing alcohol produces a much too high freezing point. You’ll need to use methanol.

  18. Ivan says

    I sure could really use this for my windscreen replacement business. Imagine the savings I will have from buying those costly cleansers.

  19. says

    It’s a good thing that you pointed out why the rubber alcohol or the vodka is added to the mix. It’s essential for the car to prevent the homemade windshield washer fluid from freezing during the winter. The post and the blog are great! I stumble upon it by accident but it definitely caught my attention. :)

    All the best!

  20. IlaWoo says

    I am so happy to find this recipe for windshield wiper fluid. I am appalled at how expensive this fluid is. I will be making this very very soon. Thank you, very much…

  21. Stephen says

    Wow a savings of 350%! This means I make more money than I spend.
    You cannot save more than 100% of the cost of an item.
    Its a cost savings of (1-.9/3.16)*100 ~= 72%.

  22. Tyler says

    The best and easiest way to make your own windshield washer fluid is to buy the qwix mix concentrate. There is no messy mixing of household products and certainly not a page and a half of instructions. All you need in to buy a gallon of biodegradable concentrate for $8 which will make you 500 gallons, mix a few drops per gallon of water and your done, add alcohol if you don’t want it to freeze. You can purchase this from their website at http://www.qwixmix.com.

  23. TuttPutt says

    DO RESEARCH BEFORE USING VINIGAR IN WINDSHIELD WASHER. Vinigar is acid and may damage rubber and other windshield washer parts. I think I may have read this in one of my old Honda Manuel’s, not sure it’s been so long ago since I read it. May not be a concern today because of possible improvements in parts. Don’t know if windshield whispers are still made of rubber or not.
    Also, rain x washer fluid did not work in my Acuras and Hondas. It left dangerous streaks that made it hard to see, specially at night. Had to use mineral spirits ( I called Raiin X) to get it off. They told me is dowse not work on all shapes of windows and builds up because some blades do not press down hard enough, or are not sharp enough.

  24. V Pacific. INC says

    I am in colder climate and using 90% rubbing alcohol comes out to $7.30 for the Rubbing alcohol alone. I use 2 gallons a week. plus the other stuff. I get -40 washer fluid for $ 1.50 a gallon at Home Depot by the case loads.
    Thank you but no thanx. Your recipe is WAY to exp for us that need something that require below freezing point.. Like -40

  25. Claire says

    Hi! I love your site and use your tips all the time. Thank you for posting all the helpful information!

    I have a question about using castile soap. Is there a reason to use this type for the washer fluid or can any liquid soap be substituted?

    Thanks again!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      We use castile for everything because it’s very natural, but you could use another type of liquid soap. Other types of liquid soap tend to suds up a little more than castile though, so you may want to try it first using a little less liquid soap if you’re using something other than castile.

  26. Roger says

    Thanks for the tip! I will give it a try as I think it’s better to have things on hand (like the castile) to make a variety of things. So far, we have enjoyed the recepies from your website. My favorite is Matt’s shower routine which I have adapted some of the techniques. Keep posting even the most trivial things that come to you both – it’s interesting reading. Have to ask – why don’t you use car wax? Thanks!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Good to know you enjoy even the simple articles! :) We don’t have anything against car wax, we’ve just never used it. Our cars have always looked great without it.