Can You Put Water in Windshield Wiper Fluid?

September 12, 2023
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If you have ever had bird droppings block visibility on your car’s windshield there’s a high likelihood that your next move was to wash the mess away with your wipers. But what if you find very little windshield wiper fluid left to clean the mess – can you put water in windshield wiper fluid?

Adding water is a short-term solution when it comes to replacing wiper fluid. In the long run, it could lead to problems. There are many benefits of wiper fluid that are negated when diluted, such as visibility, hygiene, car maintenance, and weather durability. 

Here’s everything you need to know about water and wiper fluid. 

What is Windshield Wiper Fluid? 

Methanol and ethylene glycol (antifreeze) are the key ingredients used in wiper fluid. These are what give the fluid its standard blue color. Both are highly toxic to humans and can cause various issues if ingested, touched, or inhaled. 

There is a third ingredient as well: water. Water accounts for about 50% of the wiper fluid solution. However, achieving the correct amount of all three parts makes windshield wiper fluid effective. The antifreeze property may change depending on the specific type of wiper fluid needed. 

How to Refill Windshield Wiper Fluid

If you’re looking to refill the fluid on your own, start by lifting the hood of your car and searching for the wiper water tank. It should be a white tube with a black/blue lid on the left side. Remove the cover and pour the fluid into the fill line or within an inch of the top. 

Is it Bad to Add Water to Windshield Wiper Fluid?

Can you put water in windshield wiper fluid and expect it to work as efficiently as pure wiper fluid? The answer is no. Adding more water to the solution can reduce wiper fluid’s benefits.  

  • Visibility
    • Windshield wiper fluid is meant to break up dirt, dust, grime, and bugs that land on the windshield. A driver can see more clearly with one swipe and avoid road hazards. 
    • Water may not entirely remove the mess or lead to streakiness and block vision more.
  • Hygiene
    • Another benefit of wiper fluid is its ability to destroy bacteria and dirt. Certain bacteria can sit in the windshield reservoir and become dangerous if inhaled, causing pneumonia and other respiratory complications. 
    • Water alone will not destroy the bacteria, and diluted washer fluid might also be unable to do the job. Relate the same situation to washing your hands with water; it doesn’t do the job.  
  • Car Maintenance
    • Windshield fluid also lubricates the wipers and helps to prevent the blades from scratching the glass. 
    • Water does not have the proper staying power to coat the blades and prevent damage. 
  • Weather Durability
    • The antifreeze in windshield wiper fluid is integral for driving safely in inclement weather or year-round. Ethylene Glycol prevents water from freezing by interfering with the hydrogen bonding process, thus making it easier to navigate in snowy weather or clean lingering frost from the glass. With only water in the tank, the windshield might freeze entirely in the worst-case scenario. 

So, while putting water in windshield wiper fluid may seem like a quick fix, use water only as a temporary replacement and for as short a time as possible. Then, replace the liquid properly.

Need Help?

At Kryger Glass, our auto glass technicians work to ensure your safety while providing high-quality service. Since 1947, we have made glass repair and replacement easier for commercial and residential locations. Through our affordable services, it’s easier than ever to maintain your car and home protection. Call one of our locations today for a quote, and join the Kryger Glass family.  

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