Washer fluid is typically tinted to indicate that it is not safe to consume and, though most commonly blue, it comes in a variety of colors. Warning labels caution that washer fluid contains harmful and poisonous chemicals, including methanol.
Some washer fluids contain chemicals that are also considered damaging to the environment, not just consumption. Annual use of washer fluid in the United States is well into the billions of gallons, nearly all of which ends up in water runoff and flows through our storm drains out to the ocean.
Washer fluid can also be unduly expensive. Considering what it's made of, washer fluid is usually sold at an extraordinary markup with manufacturers reaping huge benefits.
How to make washer fluid
Whether you are caring for the environment, protecting young children, saving money, or a do-it-yourselfer, you can make your own windshield washer fluid. There are recipes for several different varieties of homemade washer fluid, some of which are environmentally safe, non-poisonous, and very inexpensive to make.
One common variety uses these ingredients:
- ¾ gallon of distilled water
- ¼ gallon of white vinegar
- 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol (if used in extreme cold climates)
This variety is good for cold weather but not as appropriate in warm weather as the vinegar smell is off-putting in the heat.
No matter what recipe you use, make sure to test the washer fluid for your climate before using it in your car to prevent freezing damage from occurring. Always use distilled water as minerals from tap water will eventually clog your washer nozzles.