Drinking Windshield Wiper Fluid: What will Happen?

Short Answer: If you accidentally drink windshield washer fluid, you may suffer from serious poisoning and blindness due to the methanol or ethylene glycol in the fluid. You should seek immediate medical attention and call Poison Control.

Windshield washer fluid is a brightly-colored liquid made of methanol, a poisonous alcohol.

Sometimes, small amounts of other toxic alcohols, such as ethylene glycol, are added to the mixture.

Some young children may mistake the fluid for juice, which can lead to accidental poisoning.

Even small amounts can cause serious damage.

If you accidentally drink windshield washer fluid, you may experience symptoms such as breathing difficulty, blurred vision, low blood pressure, coma, seizures, abdominal pain, vomiting, and blindness.

This is because it contains methanol or ethylene glycol, which are both toxic to the human body.

Methanol can cause metabolic acidosis, a condition where the blood becomes too acidic, and damage the optic nerve, leading to permanent vision loss.

Ethylene glycol can cause kidney failure, brain damage, and death.

It is quite uncommon to drink windshield washer fluid due to its strong smell and taste, but it can happen if the fluid is stored in a container that resembles a beverage bottle, or if the fluid is spilled on food or drinks.

You can prevent this by keeping the fluid in its original container, labeling it clearly, and storing it away from children and pets.

If you or someone you know has ingested windshield washer fluid, you should seek immediate medical help.

DO NOT make the person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.

Call the local emergency number (such as 911), or the local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

To avoid accidental drinking of windshield washer fluid, you should always read the label before using any product, and never transfer the fluid to a different container.

You should also keep the fluid out of reach of children and pets, and dispose of any unused or expired fluid properly.

Finally, remember, windshield washer fluid is not a beverage, but a chemical that can harm you if swallowed. Always use it with caution and care.

About the Author

Abdur Rahman Choudhury

Abdur Rahman Choudhury is a nutrition coach with over 7 years of experience in the field of nutrition.

He holds a Bachelor's (B.Sc.) and Master's (M.Sc.) degree in Biochemistry from The University of Burdwan, India. He was also involved with a research project about genetic variations in the CYP11A gene among PCOS and Metabolic Syndrome patients.

He has completed the following online courses: Stanford Introduction to Food and Health by Stanford University (US) through Coursera, Certificate in Nutrition from Fabulous Body Inc. (US), Lose Weight and Keep It Off certificate course from Harvard Medical School (US), and Nutrition and Disease Prevention by Taipei Medical University (Taiwan) through FutureLearn.

Abdur currently lives in India and keeps fit by weight training and eating mainly home-cooked meals.

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