10 Surprising Tips and Tricks for Dealing with Ice and Snow

What do you do when the weather outside is frightful, but you still need to get out and go to work, school or shopping? Snow and ice removal is a major hassle and an unfortunate fact of life for those who live in northern climes, as well as being a big off-season business for landscapers and other contractors. But before you shell out a lot of cash for a professional snow removal service, try using some of these unconventional methods to get rid of all that cold white “stuff.”

  1. From The Table

    Snow Removal with Ice

    Table salt is a great temporary deicer, when used in moderation. To prevent a hard frost from forming on your car windshield overnight, try placing table salt in an old sock and rubbing it over the windows the night before, making sure to rub firmly over the entire surface. Use this trick sparingly as repeated use can cause damage to the surfaces you are deicing. You also can use salty liquids like pickle juice as a spray deicer. For large areas and long-term use, you may want to pick up a bag of salt specifically designed for snow and ice removal.

    Related: 10 Unexpected Uses for Table Salt


  2. Medical Fix

    Rubbing alcohol frost remover

    Your medicine cabinet contains a useful tool for defrosting windows: rubbing alcohol. Spray icy windows thoroughly with rubbing alcohol and then dry with an old towel. Not only will this trick get rid of the ice, but it will help prevent fogging and leave your windows with a streak-free shine.


  3. On the Rocks

    Alcohol De-icer

    Any clear alcohol—vodka, gin or rum—will work just as well as rubbing alcohol to deice windows. Simply spray well and then rub dry. Then celebrate your success by mixing up a tasty cocktail!

    Related: 10 "Sober" Alternative Uses for Alcohol at Home


  4. Melt It Away

    Using water to deice

    To clear away ice from car windows, door locks, steps, or walkways, try pouring lukewarm water over the area and then prevent additional ice from forming by using a squeegee to remove the run off immediately. Depending on how much ice has built up, you might have to repeat the process several times. A note of caution: Don’t try to speed the process along by using hot water—the temperature difference will crack windows, warp metal, and eventually even crack concrete.


  5. Cover Up

    Removing snow with a drop cloth

    A canvas painting drop cloth or plastic tarp can be the key to speedy snow removal. If snowfall is predicted, cover your car, porch steps, or walkways with a sturdy cloth or tarp. When you leave the house in the morning, simply drag the snow-filled tarp to the side of the yard, shake the snow off, and head on your way.


  6. Blow It Away

    Removing snow from the gutters

    Don’t put your leaf blower away just because fall is over. Make your blower do double duty by using it to blow away light snow from steps, walkways, driveways, and cars. If you need to move a heavier, wetter snow fall, upgrade to a snow blower or snow thrower instead.

    Related: Buyer’s Guide - The Best Snow Blowers


  7. From The Shop To The Driveway

    Using a shop vac for snow removal

    A trusty wet/dry vac is another tool that can be pressed into service as a snow removal aid. You can use the shop-vac to suck up the snow and dump it somewhere else. Alternatively, you can turn the vacuum onto “exhaust” mode and blow the snow away.

    Related: How To - Clean Gutters With a Wet/Dry Vac


  8. Here Kitty, Kitty!

    Kitty litter for snow removal

    Kitty litter can provide a great source of traction on icy surfaces, which makes it a lifesaver for tires that need traction to pull out of snow drifts. Keep a large container of kitty litter in the trunk of your car—the extra weight might also help prevent you from getting stuck in the first place. Sand, birdseed, or wood ashes will also do the trick.

    Related: 10 Astonishing Feats You Can Accomplish with Kitty Litter

    flickr.com via michaelgoodin

  9. Melting Point

    Snow melt mats

    Consider installing a snow melt mat—constructed with radiant heating cables—underneath the driveway or walkway. These cables use electricity to generate heat, which radiates upwards through the surface, keeping the entire area free of snow and ice. If you or your budget aren't up for replacing the walkways, try heated mat that can sit above the surface to keep steps and entryways clear of slippery ice.


  10. Enlist Kid Power

    Snowman snow removal

    One seriously sneaky way to get rid of a driveway full of snow is to hold a snowman-building contest for the neighborhood on your property—with the understanding that all snow comes from your driveway and walkways. You supply the cocoa, cookies, and some small prizes, and they do all the work! As a bonus, you have a yard full of decorative snowmen, at least until the sun comes out.

    Related: Banish Boredom with 7 Kid-Friendly DIY Projects


  11. See the House of the Week


    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!