Q: How Do I Make Homemade Washer Fluid?

asked by on November 23, 2015

How do I make homemade washer fluid?

There are numerous ways to make homemade washer fluid. The properties of each will vary based on the material used. Which method you choose is dependant on what you have available around the house and what you value. There are environmentally safe solutions and some that are less so as well as washer fluid that works in freezing winter conditions.

Store bought washer fluid

Store bought washer fluid uses methanol as the main antifreeze agent. Methanol is a toxic chemical in concentrate and should not come in contact with skin or any other part of your body. Fortunately, it is heavily diluted in the store bought washer fluid. Even so, it is still not good to inhale it and it is questionable what it does to our environment.

Prices vary from as low as $1.75 on sale to as much as $6 a gallon, depending where you purchase it and what kind you buy. Some are meant for freezing weather and others are meant to remove excessive grime that might accumulate from mud, bugs or other road debris. With a wide range of options for sale, you must decide if it is cost effective for you to accomplish your goal, whether it be saving money or being environmentally friendly. You can accomplish both with a homemade washer fluid.

Ingredients

All washer fluid contains chemicals to accomplish two things, clean and keep it from freezing. The most common cleaners used, in a diluted form, are dish soap, white vinegar, ammonia and glass cleaner. The only good antifreeze agent is rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol is the antifreeze of choice. One cup of rubbing alcohol per gallon should be fine, but is advisable to test it by leaving a cup of your mixture outside. If it freezes or gels, add another cup or try rubbing alcohol with a 99% concentration. Rubbing alcohol ranges from just over a $1 to $3 for a 16oz. bottle.

White vinegar has many cleaning properties and should only be used in cooler climates. It should be noted that white vinegar should be used opposed to other vinegars to prevent the staining of clothes and it won’t leave behind a residue. Vinegar tends to smell pungent as it warms, so it isn’t recommended in climates that are consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit or so. White vinegar ranges from $3 a gallon to as much as $35 a gallon. Since vinegar is used for cooking, it comes in a wide variety of grades.

  • 1 gallon distilled water
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 1-2 cups of rubbing alcohol

Ammonia in concentrate is dangerous and should be used with great care. Use non-sudsing ammonia, it is free from additives that will leave behind a film. Once it is diluted into water, it is relatively safe. Ammonia is particularly good at cleaning glass. It will irritate eyes and other mucous membranes, so whenever spraying it, be careful not to inhale it. A gallon of ammonia ranges from $10 to $15.

  • ½ cup of non-sudsing ammonia
  • 1 gallon distilled water
  • 1-2 cups of rubbing alcohol

Dish Soap is readily available in every household and can be used in small quantities. The main thing to consider is how sudsy the soap you have is. Dish soap is great for cutting grease, but is prone to bubbling more than the other cleaners.

  • 1tbsp - 2tbsp
  • 1 gallon distilled water
  • 1-2 cups of rubbing alcohol

Glass cleaner is the simplest solution. Simply buy an industrial glass cleaner of your choice and mix one cup with a gallon of water. Glass cleaner ranges from $5.50 per gallon to as much as $15. There are many choices to choose from. You should choose a non-sudsing version.

  • 1 cup glass cleaner
  • 1 gallon distilled water
  • 1-2 cups of rubbing alcohol

Conclusion

Regardless of your choice of cleaner, you will also need a jug that holds a little more than a gallon of liquid. If you live in warmer climates, adding rubbing alcohol isn’t necessary. Just don’t go skiing and forget to add some.

Distilled water is recommended because it doesn’t contain minerals that can clog the small nozzles that spray your washer fluid. Not to mention minerals in the water will also leave water spots on the windshield and paint. This may not be a concern for many people and tracking down distilled water is certainly one more expense.

Finally, washer fluid is relatively cheap. Depending on which cleaner you choose, homemade washer fluid may or may not save you any money. Best do a little math so you can make your own decision. Of course, any of the homemade alternatives are more environmentally friendly than the store bought versions. If saving the environment is something you care about, homemade washer fluid is for you.

If you have any problems, contact a certified mechanic who can diagnose your washer fluid system and make the necessary repairs to get it operating properly again.

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