Removing ice from your windshield can be easy - if you do it the right way

Don't ever use hot water or heavy objects to try and remove ice from windows

Snow isn't the only challenge people face when it comes to getting vehicles ready for the roads during winter.

Ice can be a significant problem on cold winter mornings or after a storm, but there are ways you can help prevent it from building up and removing it when it does.

The American Automobile Association says the best way to prevent ice from building up on your car's windows and windshield is to park it in a garage.

But, that's not an option for many people.

Preventing ice buildup

Instead, AAA says you can use a tarp, towel or sheet to put on your windshield to prevent ice buildup. Those items can be held in place by using the wiper blades and magnets to prevent them from falling off the window.

Windshield covers can also be purchased at many auto part stores. But be warned – AAA says some of those covers can scratch or damage the paint if it gets moved around with the wind.

It's also good to note that these covers should only be used when there's little to no snowfall expected because the extra weight can make the covers challenging to move. AAA says people also soak cloth windshield covers in a solution of 1 tablespoon salt to 1-quart water to help prevent ice buildup.

Traveling this winter? Here's what to keep in your car in case you get stuck

Drivers can also buy a spray-on ice and frost solution, but in addition to being expensive, it can be poisonous to pets if it's swallowed.

A cheaper option would be to make the solution yourself. According to AAA, all you need is three parts white vinegar to one part water. Mix it in a spray bottle, apply it to your windows and windshield and then wipe it off. Don't leave it on the windows overnight. AAA says the liquid has a freezing point just below water, and using it for an extended period of time could damage your windows and windshield.

Another helpful option would be to wrap your wipers in a plastic bag or place cardboard or wood under the blade to prevent them from sticking to the windshield and damaging them.

Removing ice

As always, you can remove ice from your windshield by starting your engine, setting the heater to defrost and letting the air circulate to warm up the interior. 

There are also commercial-grade deicers that can be purchased to spray on your windows to remove ice. But, AAA says that can also damage your windows over time and can be expensive.

However, you can also make your own deicer.

According to Safelite, you can remove ice in seconds by mixing rubbing alcohol and water.

Mix ⅔ cup rubbing alcohol with ⅓ cup water in a spray bottle and shake it up. Spray it on your windows and windshield, and the ice will begin to melt. Once most of the ice has melted, use your wipers to clear the remaining buildup.

Don't ever do this

Do not, under any circumstances, use hot water to try and remove ice from your windows.

Hot water can crack glass due to thermal shock, which can be a costly repair. Another frowned-upon method is using any sort of flame to try and melt the ice.

Metal scrapers can scratch glass and paint, so it's advised to stay away from those tools, too.

And don't ever use objects to hit the ice like a hammer, wrench or shovel. That can shatter your window.