How to demist your car windscreen

Misty and fogged up car windows can be very irritating and are also a safety hazard. Here’s how to demist your windscreen quickly…

Peugeot 208 windscreen detail

Demisting your car windscreen is a tedious but unavoidable automotive task when the temperature starts to plummet, it's raining or the humidity in the air starts to increase. It is essential to keep your windscreen and windows from fogging up to maintain good visibility when driving so here’s how to do it. 

The majority of motorists will find demisting their car windows a tedious task, and while it may be tempting to set off before properly clearing the windscreen, this is extremely dangerous and not only endangers other road users and pedestrians, it can also get you in serious trouble with the police - resulting in fines, penalty points or worse.

So the question then, what is the fastest way to demist your windscreen and other car windows? This doesn’t have an easy answer, as there are several techniques you can use to help demist your windscreen and side windows quickly. The weapons in your anti-condensation arsenal include air-conditioning and air recirculation, higher heater settings and open windows. Below we’ve outlined the top tips from our expert road testers for clearing and demisting your windscreen and side windows quickly.

How to demist your windscreen and side windows

Turn your heater up to maximum 

Some people may argue cooler or cold air will help demist your windows, however warmer air can absorb more water and moisture than cold. So while it may take a few minutes for your car to warm up, it will help clear your windscreen quicker. 

Turn your air-conditioning ON

Air-conditioning isn’t just useful in helping cool your car down in the summertime, it will also help dry out air inside the cabin, reducing the amount of fog on your windows.

Turn OFF air recirculation 

Recirculating air will prolong the amount of time moist air is inside the cabin. Air outside your cabin will mostly be drier than the air inside – pulling in fresh air will help in the demisting process.

Open a window 

Opening a window will help bring in the dry air from outside – ready to be warmed up and absorb moisture. This is also a good method to help demist your car should you not have air-conditioning to speed up the process.

Stand outside the car 

Of course, this may not be possible if your windows start to fog up while you’re driving along, but if you're demisting your windscreens before setting off, standing outside the car may help as your breath is warm and wet, which will slow down the demisting process. Don’t just leave the car with the keys in to demist on its own, as it has been known for opportunist thieves to hop in and drive away a demisting car.

Of course, many modern cars come with a ‘demist’ button, or even a heated front windscreen that uses heater elements inside the glass to help clear the screen in moments. But following these five simple steps will help you get on your way in no time.

How can I stop my car windows fogging up?

It won’t be possible to stop your car windows from fogging up completely, however there are a few other tips you might want to try as well. Many companies sell anti-fog solutions that you apply to the inside of the windows to stop them misting up in the first place. A cheap alternative, and possibly an old wives' tale, is to rub your windows with shaving foam, as this is supposed to work just as well.

If you have an older car or a convertible which is prone to fogging up, you could buy a small dehumidifier box which can help absorb any moisture in the car before it hits the windscreen. Or, if you're on a tight budget, try filling up an old sock with absorbent cat litter and tying off the end – this will be just as effective.

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Whichever approach you choose, remember not to move off until your glass is clear. It’s dangerous and if your visibility is impeded, it’s illegal.

Winter and wet weather driving tips

Getting ready for winter

What are your top tips for driving in bad weather? Let us know in the comments section below..

Content editor

Ryan is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2023, he worked at a global OEM automotive manufacturer, as well as a specialist automotive PR and marketing agency.

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