When It’s Clear – Go!

It’s a Wintery morning and the cold has well and truly set in. The car is frosted over and you have 30 minutes before you leave for work. Does this sound familiar to you?

Do you:

  1. Idle the car with the heating turned on full, with 30 minutes before you leave the house
  2. Use all the tools you can to defrost the car, whilst running the engine for as short a time as needed to clear the windows fully
  3. With 5 minutes to leave, you put the heating on full and scrape the car to the best of your ability clearing enough of the window to just see the road in front

If your answer is a) or c) – or even b) for that matter! – read on to find out how to defrost your car so it’s safe to drive – without pumping harmful emissions into the surrounding environment for longer than necessary!


Ways To Cut Down On Winter Idling

Firstly, make sure to spend time familiarising yourself with your car’s heating and defrosting functionality. This might include back window heating, for example. Ideally, sue this for as short a time as possible to conserve fuel, and limit emissions.


  • Car Cover

To ensure a speedy departure, use a car cover or tarpaulin to prevent ice forming in the first place! If any ice has formed, then use heating, de-icer and a scraper to clear these bits.

Tip: Use all year round to protect from heat and UV damage, tree sapping and bird droppings!


  • De-icer & Scraper

Store a bottle of de-icer spray in the boot of your car alongside a decent scraper. Spray all the icey parts of the windows, leave briefly so that the ice starts to dissolve, and use the scraper to clear.

Tip: Buy a couple of bottles of de-icer at a time so there’s less chance you running out just when you need it!


  • Luke-warm Water

Forgotten to buy de-icer? Heat a bucket of water to a luke-warm temperature and pour this over the icey parts of your vehicle windows. Use a scraper or cloth to clear ice quicker.

Tip: Do not use very hot or boiling water – rapid temperature change may cause your windows to crack!


Emissions: The Facts

We’ve all heard it before – idling your vehicle is bad for us and the environment. But why? And what are emissions made of to make them harmful?

‘Idling’ is when a vehicle is sitting stationary, with its engine running unnecessarily. When this is done without reason it effectively gives the driver 0 mpg in fuel consumption and subjects those around the vehicle to continuous fumes and engine noise.

Within the fumes are pollutants, such as Carbon Monoxide which reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen to the brain. We also see small amounts of Benzene in fumes which is emitted from vehicle exhausts as unburnt fuel; it’s toxic and carcinogenic. There is also particulate matter, PM10s, which are very small particles that can pass deep into the lungs causing respiratory complaints.

For a full list of what makes up exhaust fumes see our website at switchoffandbreathe.org/emissions-information.


The key to helping cut down on idling whilst defrosting your car is a bit of planning. Make sure to choose a solution that’s right for you, which will help to reduce the amount of harmful emissions your vehicle produces. You might not feel like you’re making such a big difference, but imagine if your whole street… your whole neighbourhood… your whole city(!) cut down on producing these harmful fumes!


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