Fight Windshield Grime With Homemade Washer Fluid

windshield washer fluid

This time of year where I live is often referred to as the “mud season”. It runs from the closing of the ski resorts to the beginning of June and everything is very, very muddy. Including my car!

Needless to say I go through a fair amount of windshield washer fluid this time of year. Actually, come to think of it, I go through a fair amount of the stuff YEAR-ROUND.

Fortunately, the hubster (Dave) usually keeps me well-supplied with the blue stuff.

UNfortunately, he’s out of town this week and I completely ran out.

windshield washer fluid

I could have gone and bought a gallon easy enough…but in the name of DIY, I felt like I had to at least see if there was a “homemade” version I could try.

Little did I know how simple it was to make…and little did I know that commercial windshield washer fluid contains a nasty chemical called methanol, which the National Institute of Health lists as a poisonous alcohol that can cause significant damage even in small amounts.  Yikes.

windshield washer fluid


Here is an easy do-it-yourself recipe using basic household ingredients.

Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid

You will need:

  • 1 empty (clean) gallon jug
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap (use whatever you have on hand. I used Dawn)
  • 1/2 cup non-sudsing ammonia  (Note: You can substitute vinegar for ammonia if you prefer)
  • A few drops of blue food coloring (this is optional but I think it’s a good idea because it serves as a reminder/warning of the contents)

Fill an empty gallon container with water. (This is a good way to repurpose 1 gallon plastic vinegar jugs, which I seem to go through a lot of!)

Add, dish soap, ammonia, and food coloring (optional). Recap the bottle and gently tip upside down a few times to mix ingredients. Pour into the windshield wiper fluid reservoir of your car.


windshield washer fluid

This mixture should work in most climates…but when the weather dips below freezing, add 1 cup isopropyl alcohol. If you’re concerned about whether your homemade mixture will freeze, leave it outside overnight (in cold weather) and check it in the morning. If it’s frozen or slushie, add additional alcohol.

Be sure to keep the mixture out of reach of animals and children.


windshield washer fluid

When I first considered trying this, I thought maybe this particular DIY idea was taking things a little too far. But I don’t think that way at all anymore!  This is actually an ideal DIY, even if it doesn’t save you any money (but most likely it WILL!)

It’s simple to make…..with common household ingredients…..AND it eliminates the use of methanol, which any way you look at it, is a good thing.

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  1. Jamie says

    You should re-name your site “Tons of Good Things by Jillee” !!
    Thanks for another great DIY idea!

  2. Sarah Mc says

    This isn’t much ammonia but for those concerned just swap for more alcohol. And remember that vinegar will kill grass but ammonia helps it grow which is why it is an ingredient in fertilizer.

  3. Sandi says

    I’m a little concerned about ammonia or vinegar using as washer fluid……when the funds spews out you always have backsplash no matter how you try….whether you are at a standstill or driving …….what is this going to do to the paint job???

  4. Sharon says

    First of all I love your site. You have so many helpful ideas, but in this case, I would be very cautious. According to Wiki ammonia WILL harm the paint on a car and alcohol could. No info on the viengar.

    • mdoe37 says

      Well it probably won’t do anything to the paint. Its only a meager 1/2 cup of ammonia to a gallon of water. And I would use the ammonia not vinegar, road grime is a little different than common findings on kitchen counters.

      As an aside, my uncle used to paint company names of trucks etc — back in the day before stick on signage. He was a terrible speller and kept a can of oven cleaner handy to correct his mistakes. That little bit of ammonia seems pretty harmless compared to oven cleaner. (which I wouldn’t recommend on the new clear coat paints)

  5. shirley says

    sounds like a good idea, but will the vinegar or amonia do any damage to the hoses in your car?

  6. Susan S. says

    Thank you for all of your great ideas and for sharing your knowledge!

    After showing this to my husband, he said he would *love* a DIY version of Rain-X De-Icer Windshield Washer Fluid.

  7. trish c says

    Love this!

    I’m doing it soon!!!

    I’ll use vinegar! I would prefer to use sustainable products if I can. Although I suspect most of the white vinegar I buy is made from GM corn. Something I will have to avoid in the future!
    Like ammonia I don’t want to purchase products that are not natural.

    Thank you Jillee I think you and your blog are awesome!!!

  8. Valerie says

    I often see on Pinterest to mix vinegar & water to de-ice windows in the winter. If you substitute vinegar for ammonia, you might not even need to add the alcohol to make it winter-friendly!

  9. says

    So excited to see this post! I was
    Just wondering the other day if there was a DIY solution when I ran out and had to buy more washer fluid.

    Thank you so much for all your wonderful posts and ideas.