Active Ingredient for Windshield Bug Wash?

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Sep 5, 2021
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Does anyone know if there are any chemical differences between windshield washer fluids labeled bug wash and those that are not? The bottle labels don't usually list ingredients other than water and methanol and are vague when it comes to composition.

It appears most washer fluids are composed of:
  • water
  • various ratios of methanol to prevent freezing at a certain temp
  • coloring
  • RainX additive
Is there any ingredient being added to help remove bugs? I've used many bug washes before, mainly RainX Green Bug Wash, All Season Orange, and the blue stuff. I have not noticed any difference in removing bugs from the windshield. I can't see how any chemical can actually clean bug guts off in the 2 seconds it stays on your glass before a wiper squeegees it off.

Seems like this is all marketing with brightly colored jugs of fluids being sold. Either way, it's got to be better than regular water, maybe methanol has a bug cleaning effect?
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
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Methanol certainly will help, I can't say I've ever noticed a difference also. Just a tiny bit of foam left over.

I've made my own with a tiny bit of dawn added, but it made zero difference that I could see.
 
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I make my own windshield cleaner using this stuff from Amazon:

Frylr 60 Pieces Car Effervescent Washer Car Windshield Glass Concentrated​

 
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I use 303 tablets or Einszett Krystal Klar and distilled water(which there is a shortage, I should go buy a carboy and fill it up at Whole Foods or the local hippie grocer with RO water). Works better than the bug wash I’ve seen. Rain-X fluid is a no-no on German cars and supposedly cars with ADAS cameras.

Most washer fluid is methanol, blue 40 or Liquitint Blue(same stuff that makes Windex blue), and a little surfactant or ammonia if you’re lucky. The bug wash stuff adds sodium lauryl sulfate and silicone emulsion. The German concentrate I use has sodium lauryl sulfate, another surfactant, sodium docusate as its ingredients.
 
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Wow this is a popular topic for such a cheap product. Methanol does have cleaning abilities. Ammonia and methanol are about $3/gal if bought in bulk tanker truckloads.
 

Owen Lucas

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I use 303 tablets or Einszett Krystal Klar and distilled water(which there is a shortage, I should go buy a carboy and fill it up at Whole Foods or the local hippie grocer with RO water). Works better than the bug wash I’ve seen. Rain-X fluid is a no-no on German cars and supposedly cars with ADAS cameras.

Most washer fluid is methanol, blue 40 or Liquitint Blue(same stuff that makes Windex blue), and a little surfactant or ammonia if you’re lucky. The bug wash stuff adds sodium lauryl sulfate and silicone emulsion. The German concentrate I use has sodium lauryl sulfate, another surfactant, sodium docusate as its ingredients.
Interesting, thank you for the info. I figured washer fluids were just simple 2-3 component mixes but good to see there is some cleaning chemistry being added.
 
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Interesting, thank you for the info. I figured washer fluids were just simple 2-3 component mixes but good to see there is some cleaning chemistry being added.
Also, a majority of the US supply of washer fluid is made by South/Win out of North Carolina - they have licensing agreements with ITW Consumer Brands(Rain-X), SC Johnson(Shout & Windex) and they supply almost all the parts chains and Walmart with washer fluid. Prestone(KIK), CCI Illnois and I think one more company are smaller players in the washer fluid market.

The SDS is a source of truth for these products. In a pinch, a few drops of Dawn will add cleaning power to washer fluid. After all, window washers usually use a mix of Dawn or baby shampoo and water and squeegee off their panes, not much different than our wiper blades.
 

Owen Lucas

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I think it's just blue colored water here. No alcohol at all
Makes sense, looks like washer fluids are regional since methanol is added for freeze protection. Not much freezing going on in CA I presume so you probably get the methanol free fluid.
 
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Water is called the universal solvent.

And I miss with Vaico Clean Screen I got off of Amazon (iirc, a 5L bottle), which I mix 1 oz per gallon of distilled water.
 
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Also, a majority of the US supply of washer fluid is made by South/Win out of North Carolina - they have licensing agreements with ITW Consumer Brands(Rain-X), SC Johnson(Shout & Windex) and they supply almost all the parts chains and Walmart with washer fluid. Prestone(KIK), CCI Illnois and I think one more company are smaller players in the washer fluid market.

The SDS is a source of truth for these products. In a pinch, a few drops of Dawn will add cleaning power to washer fluid. After all, window washers usually use a mix of Dawn or baby shampoo and water and squeegee off their panes, not much different than our wiper blades.


Highline Warren disagrees.

 
Joined
Sep 10, 2008
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Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
In the summer I find water with a bit of dish soap added is the best bet for getting bugs off the windshield.
Anything that has alcohol in it evaporates too fast.
Summer washer fluid is basically soapy water that you pay for.
If I really wanted distilled water I could get it from the dehumidifier I guess.
 

hrv

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Sep 14, 2021
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P21S works really good. I get little tiny drops of tree sap on my truck which is just as bad as bugs..

Been using P21S for years and it does work great...a little added to washer fluid or just plain water in the summer goes a long way...
 
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Nov 23, 2020
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I use Fabulososo diluted in the Super Duties it does leave a slight residue where the wipers don't clean it off but it works ...... on the non work trucks I use regular blue
 
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