Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ten-minute hack: Keep the snow off your windshield (just in time for spring!)

The most irritating thing about the morning weekday ritual in these northern lattitudes is scraping the show off my windshield. I'm already cold and cranky; having to do some manual labor to get the car ready to go is just icing on an anger-cake.

While I was watching TV with the family one night, a commercial came on for a windshield frost guard. I had to laugh a bit, as I said to myself "That's basically just a sheet you put over your windshield."

I decided to test that theory.


Jersey-knit sheet. Red. Queen-size. It was on the top of the "Sheets we don't really want to put on the bed anymore" pile.

Ten-minute hack

I opened the car door and laid the sheet's short end across the top of the door frame, then shut the door.

Sheet is closed in along the top frame of the door.

Then, I stretched the sheet across, and did the same on the other side.

Sheet stretched fully across the windshield.
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It turns out my timing couldn't have been better, because we got a couple of inches that night.

Car is covered in snow. Neither sheet nor windshield are visible.
However, I just peeled the sheet back and...

Car is still mostly snow-covered, but the sheet has been removed and the windshield is completely clear.
... all set!
I shook out the sheet, threw it in my trunk, dusted off the other windows and the flat surfaces, and drove away.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I'd call it a successful experiment.


  1. It was free (amortized against the cost of a sheet destined for the rag-pile).
  2. It worked great.
  3. If the sheet ever gets too grimy, it's machine-washable.


I still don't think I'd buy a dedicated windshield cover for this job, but here are some issues I can predict happening.
  1. Jersey knit wicks water. This could be an issue if you get a rain-then-freeze weather pattern; you may end up with sheet stuck to your windshield. A waterproof material would be preferable.
  2. Since the ends of the sheet are extending into the car, they could get a little grimy and carry that grime into your car (or wick water in), which could be a problem depending on your tolerance for that sort of thing. The ones that are sold for this purpose have some stiffness to them and bungee nylon that wrap around the rear-view mirrors; if I felt like doing more than a ten-minute hack, I could probably fabricate something equivalent with bent-out coat hangers and some rope.
  3. Even after shaking the solid snow out of the sheet, the wicking action had pulled a lot of water in, and I ended up with a soggy sheet in my trunk. My trunk doesn't care about wet stuff, but if yours does, you'll want a plastic bucket to keep the sheet in.
With luck, we shouldn't have any more snow this year (HAH!). But if we do, I'm ready.