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Ontario Poison Centre

Windshield washer fluid

Windshield washer fluid


Windshield washer fluid is used to clean a vehicle’s windshield. Its common base chemical is methanol, which is a highly toxic alcohol that can cause blindness and severe poisoning if ingested. It can also contain smaller amounts of other toxic alcohols including ethylene glycol. Methanol can be absorbed in minimal amounts from skin contact or inhalation, however it is most toxic when ingested.

Poisoning Risk

High: dangerous in small amounts (more than a taste or a lick).

Expected Symptoms

  • Early symptoms may include drowsiness, drunk behaviour, and upset stomach.
  • Can lead to blindness and death in severe toxicity.

Home Treatment

  • Call the Poison Centre right away for assistance.
  • If more than a mouthful has been ingested, go to nearest emergency department for assessment
  • For eye exposures, rinse eyes for at least 15 minutes with lukewarm water, then call the Poison Centre for further advice.


  • This product should be locked up and out of sight with all of your other household hazards.
  • Always keep this product in its original container.
  • Every case is different. OPC is available 24hrs/day to provide information for your individual situation. Call 1-800-268-9017 (Toll-free) or 416-813-5900 (Local).



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