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.”

By Donna Boyle Schwartz | Updated Jan 01, 2022 11:42 AM

From The Table

Table Salt 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


Medical Fix

Deicer Rubbing Alcohol

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.

Related: 12 Clever Uses for Rubbing Alcohol


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On the Rocks

Alcohol Deicer

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


Melt It Away

Warm Water 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.

Related: 23 Brilliant Hacks to Help You Weather Winter


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.

Related: Expecting Snow? Do These 7 Things ASAP


Blow It Away

Leaf Blower Snow

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


From The Shop To The Driveway

Shop Vac Snow

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: The 8 Best Tools for Conquering Ice and Snow


Here Kitty, Kitty!

Kitty Litter For Snow

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: 11 Ways to Winterize Your Home on a Budget

flickr.com via michaelgoodin

Melting Point

Snow Melt Mats

Consider installing a snow melt mat (like these from Amazon) that can sit above the surface to keep steps and entryways clear of slippery ice.

Related: The 50 Best Products for Surviving Winter


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: 7 Snow Shoveling Lessons No One Ever Taught You


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