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17 Snow and Ice Removing Hacks

Updated
Quit struggling with snow and ice and work faster and smarter.

Removing snow and ice is a chore. It’s a fact. However, some snow removal hacks make life that bit easier.

Want to know what they are? Here are 17 snow and ice removal hacks you wish you’d known several winters ago.


Snow and Ice Removing Hacks

It’s time to put into practice some of the best tips and tricks you will ever learn about removing snow and ice. Some are easy, while others are a little more leftfield.

1. Cooking on Gas

Spraying frying pan with cooking oil

Grab that cooking spray and give your snow shovel a generous coating. Not only will it help the snow to slide off the shovel, but it also helps to scoop it up with less effort. You can use cooking oil as well, but cooking spray is less messy and easier to apply.

One Tip

Make sure you wipe down the snow shovel when you store it in the garage. It leaves quite a mess.

2. Little and Often

Shoveling snow from gravel

Don’t wait for the snow to finish falling. By the time the clouds empty of the white stuff, you could have 2 feet or more to clear. Set a schedule and stick to it. It’s better to clear the snow every hour or two, even if it is still falling.

3. It’s Not Just Superheroes Who Wear Clothes on the Outside

Shoveling snow and ice is a slippery business. Avoid falls and injuries by slipping a secondary pair of socks over your shoes. The sock material gives you added traction, which is great for icy paths.

You might look goofy doing it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

4. I’m Melting

Melting snow on gravel

Getting the snow and ice to melt is one of the safest ways to clear it from paths and driveways. If you’ve finished shoveling and there is still ice, make a salt substitute for washing away the slippery stuff.

Mix 1 teaspoon of dish soap, 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, and half a gallon of water to liberally soak the area you want to clear.

5. Don’t Blame the Tools

Man removing snow with electric snow shovel

If your standard snow shovel is straining your back, get a snow shovel with 2 or 3 handles similar to the type you find on a lawnmower. It gives you one for shoveling and two for lifting. You also get a footrest for added traction when you want to shift stubborn snow.

Better yet, invest in an electric snow shovel. It gets the task done quickly with minimal effort.

6. No Shovel, No Problem

Car tarpaulin for snow

If you don’t have a snow shovel or snow blower, lay a tarpaulin on the path or driveway before the snow starts to fall. You can even use this for covering your car. When the snow stops falling, lift off the tarp, and you have a clear driveway.

The only trick to this method is checking the weather because you need to lay the tarp down before the snow drops.

7. Blowin’ in the Wind

Man using leaf blower for snow

When the season’s change and fall turns to winter, don’t consign your leaf blower to the garage. It’s the perfect tool for blasting away a light dusting of snow.

8. Getting Smart With the Snow Blower

Man clearing driveway with snowblower

When the snow gets so deep, sometimes you need to get out the snow blower. Start in the middle of the driveway and let the snow scatter to the edge of the channel. When you change direction, you won’t need to make any chute adjustments.

It speeds up the process, reduces chute direction changes, and gets the job done in one pass.

9. Don’t Suck, Blow!

Discarded vacuum cleaner outdoors in the snow

Hooking up a wet/dry shop vacuum could suck the snow from your car windshield, but the best technique would be to connect the hose to your house and blow the snow free from your car or driveway. What could be simpler?

10. Get a Handle on the Situation

Product Image of the Snow Shovel, Portable Shovel Detachable Plastic Emergency Snow Shovel with Adjustable Handle and Stainless Steel Pole for Car Truck Driveway Camping and Outdoor

Sometimes your snow shovel can be uncomfortable to use. Maybe the handle is in the wrong position? You can buy adjustable handles that slide in and out until you find the most comfortable position, giving you more flexibility where you place the handle.

You can set it at the spot of your choice to ease back and arm strain.

11. Rake the Roof

Woman cleans snow with shovel from roof of house

Snow doesn’t just fall on your driveway. It also coats your roof, placing strain on the structure, and as it melts, water seeps inside the home. Grab the snow shovel or a snow roof rake and pull the snow from the roof. Make sure you do this before you clear the driveway, or you will have to start all over again.

12. X Marks the Spot

Caution sign on wooden fence against snow

If you live in places like Upstate New York, you will be used to thick snow coatings. However, knowing where your driveway is and any potential trip hazards can be difficult to spot. Stake out any obvious level changes so that when it snows, you know the lay of the land.

13. Shift the Drift

Snow pile

When you clear the snow, avoid piling it against the house. Whether dragging the white stuff off the roof or scraping the driveway, snow encourages the pipes to freeze inside your home, and when it melts, it causes issues with dampness.

Frozen pipes could crack and cause water damage, which undermines your foundations.

14. Adopt the Position

Snow shoveling position

Shoveling snow is backbreaking work. Make your life easier by using the correct techniques.

  • Bend your knees and lift using your legs, not your back.
  • Hold the shovel blade close as you lift.
  • Swap hands to avoid placing undue strain on one side of your body and spread the load.
  • Change from overhand and underhand grip periodically.

15. Don’t Go All the Way

Shoveling snow from driveway

When you wake to 3 feet of snow, you might be tempted to try and clear all the snow in one sweep. This works for the first 5 minutes, and then it quickly saps your strength. It also strains your back and arms.

Try scooping half the depth first and then make a second sweep to clear the remaining snow. It might take longer, but your joints will thank you for it.

16. Here Comes the Sandman

Sanding snow covered ground

Keep a few bags of coarse builders sand in the garage. Scatter it generously over the areas you have cleared to give you extra traction. It also helps to melt the snow. Plus, it creates a clear path because negotiating your yard when all you see is blinding white can be a challenge.

Ash is another useful material to use if you don’t have any sand on hand.

17. Forget the Washing Up

Ice melting agent applied to the sidewalk.

If you don’t have the ingredients to make up a salt substitute, keep a bag of dishwasher salt handy as this helps melt the ice and give you extra grip. A tablespoon for every square meter should do the job.


Safety First

Whatever technique you adopt the next time the heavens open and dump some snow is up to you. However, clearing snow can be dangerous work. When operating snow blowers, always make sure you have complete control and don’t overstretch.

Be aware of ground-level changes, steps, garden ornaments, and anything else that poses a threat. A great idea if you know snow is coming is to take a picture on your smartphone, so you get all the angles of the garden before the carpet of white stuff covers it completely.

Headshot of Mark Weir

About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.