The ballad of Sean and the raspberry vodka windshield washer fluid

Any other ill-advised home fixes for your vehicle you'd like to share?

Any ill-advised home fixes for your vehicle you'd like to share?

One reader was wondering why his truck smelled like raspberries all of a sudden, until he remembered his last-minute fix from a few days earlier. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

Good morning commuters!

There's another rally on Parliament Hill in support of the Wet'suwet'en starting at 9 a.m., without a scheduled end time.

Ottawa police say it will affect roads in the area and you're asked not to drive downtown around then.

It's not cold, which is awesome, though the warmth has closed the Rideau Canal Skateway as of Saturday night.

Kent Street is still closed from James to Gladstone, which is not awesome.

But … I have the best story.

Last week, I did a blog post here which was a bit of a stream of consciousness with a rhetorical question about the possibility of making your own windshield washer fluid.

Sean wrote to me (this is awesome):

"In the summertime I simply use water in my washer fluid bottle — I just need to remember to change it out before the first freeze of winter. 

Well, earlier this winter, I was in bed drifting off when I remembered that it was going to get freezing cold overnight and that I still had water in the fluid reservoir.

I jumped out of bed, and headed to the garage only to find I didn't have any fluid.

It was too late to go out to buy some, so I had to figure out another alternative. I decided to try the liquor cabinet.

In there I found a bottle of clear raspberry flavoured vodka that a party guest had left behind. It wasn't something that I was ever going to drink.

It was listed as 40 per cent strength, so I poured the flavoured vodka into my truck's washer fluid reservoir, started the vehicle and made sure the "antifreeze" made its way through all the lines.

I then went back to bed and forgot about it.

A few days later driving to work, it was a salty, slushy day on the roads, so I was required to use my washer fluid quite a bit. It took a while to figure out why my truck all of a sudden smelled like a giant raspberry.

That day after work, the guys I work with were all out in the parking lot cleaning their vehicles off and warming them up in preparation for the drive home.

When I sprayed my windshield to clean it, the guys immediately smelled the raspberry vodka and asked what the heck the smell was.

I'm sure you can imagine the laughs and comments I got from these guys after relaying the story. They ribbed me for few days after that."

For what it's worth, WikiHow does say vodka can be part of a do-it-yourself washer fluid mix in a pinch.

I have to ask: are there any ill-advised home fixes for your vehicle you'd like to share?

Please send them to


Doug Hempstead

CBC Ottawa's traffic specialist

Doug Hempstead is CBC Ottawa's traffic specialist and can be heard on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning and All In A Day. Sometimes, he even sleeps. Originally from the Ottawa Valley, he is a musician and family man - married with two daughters. Doug is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years experience in the region covering all types of news. He welcomes your input on traffic issues and can be called directly while the shows are airing at 613-288-6900. Tweet him at @cbcotttraffic or @DougHempstead. His e-mail is


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