When you need to clean your windshield, you spray washer fluid onto the glass and turn on your windshield wipers. They swipe back and forth to remove any visual obstructions that may have collected on the glass.
There are a few different styles of windshield wipers, though they all have something in common: they all have a rubber edge on the blade that makes contact with the windshield glass. The rubber edge is quite flexible and soft and is prone to wear, weathering, and tearing. Manufacturers have developed several styles of wiper blades for use in different circumstances, including:
Standard hinged wiper blades are what normally come equipped on most cars. They use a lightweight stamped metal frame that has several pivots. A rubber wiper edge is held by the frame against the window and the hinges allow the rubber to conform to the contours of the glass. Hinged wiper blades have been used for decades and are a good all-around blade for an economical buyer. They tend to collect ice on the metal frame during winter which can prevent the rubber edge from pressing against the glass, making it less effective. They need to be cleaned off regularly in winter to be useful.
Hingeless wiper blades are an excellent all-around wiper blade. Instead of using a metal frame, the structure of the wiper blade is made of flexible plastic. This means there is less surface to have snow and ice build up on, and no hinges to limit the range of movement. A rubber blade edge is still used to clear the glass. Hingeless wiper blades are a premium blade and are typically priced higher than standard blades.
Winter wiper blades are virtually the same as standard hinged wiper blades. They use a metal frame and a rubber edge with the major exception being that the whole frame is encased in a thin rubber boot. That means that ice and snow are not able to easily collect on the windshield wiper and it maintains its hinged abilities. Winter wiper blades are excellent for cold-weather use but in hot summer weather the rubber boot can deteriorate quickly and crack or tear.