Keeping your windshield wipers in good condition will extend their useful life and will help you save money. It is important to have well-maintained windshield wipers, not only so they last longer but also so that they will function well in bad weather. Poorly maintained wipers can cause a lot of irritation due to the squealing they produce and their inability to remove mud, dirt or water from the windshield.
Remove leaves, pine needles, seed pods or any other debris from the windshield wipers and the small depression that houses them before you use them. Debris like this cause the rubber to erode more quickly as it tears during use.
Defrost the windshield before turning on the windshield wipers. If it has snowed or iced the night before (or even an hour before), the blades may freeze to the windshield and using them will cause them to tear. Even if they aren't frozen to the windshield, using them over solid ice causes friction and will wear down the blades more quickly.
Avoid parking in brightly sunlit areas if your wiper blades are made out of rubber (rather than the newer silicone type). The sun's ultraviolet rays will cause damage to the sensitive rubber.