Moving up to Chicago from Florida, ice and snow have been a real thing to get used to. Don’t get me wrong – I love the wintry Christmastimes, sledding, playing with my cat in the snow, and all that. However, functioning on a day-to-day basis has been tricky – especially dealing with my car in the wintry months since I don’t often have ice melt on hand.
And personally, I’m not so fond of the rock salt that can hurt the paws of my furry friends and neighbors. So, I’ve needed some help in getting my car unstuck, keeping the sidewalk clear, and many, many other things. The hacks below are some of the best ones I’ve found for dealing with these issues.
Use a Straw for Your Car Lock
It has only happened to me once or twice, but let me just say, when your car door is frozen shut and you’re in a hurry, it’s pretty unsettling. Thankfully, using a straw is an easy hack for fixing the problem.
Put the end of the straw right up to the frozen locks and blow it into the straw. Repeat until the warmth of your breath unfreezes the lock, and you can get back in. No muss, no fuss, no damage – even to electronic locks.
Pre-Salt Your Sidewalks
It is the one hack I’ll offer on rock salt and standard ice melt – and it is extremely helpful. Before a snowstorm hits, salt your sidewalks, driveways, or another potentially slippery surface prone to ice (deck or patio, anyone?).
It prevents the snow from sticking and ice from forming and makes it safer and easier. Just spread the salt across the surface and leave.
Blast it With Your Leaf Blower
Let your leaf blower do double-duty this year by getting it out after the snowfalls. Blast away snow from surfaces like decks and sidewalks, patios, and even windshields and windows.
It won’t clear all the snow if it’s frozen, but it will make things easier overall.
Use Natural Deicer on Sidewalks
Since rock salt can hurt your plants, the paws of your pets, and even children, it’s better to use a natural deicer instead. You can use magnesium chloride or potassium chloride to safely remove ice without irritating your skin, your pets, or your plants.
You can find these products online or in the local hardware store. Just check the ingredients before buying!
Spread Sand on Your Walkways
Another more natural way to fight ice and gain traction on slippery sidewalks and driveways is by spreading sand (or kitty litter!) on the path. Again, this won’t hurt your pup’s paws or your plants, and it adds much-needed traction.
Ideally, use it right before snowfall, though it works well after the snow has accumulated, too.
Pile That Snow Away from the House
When you do clear away the snow from the driveway and sidewalk, be sure to drag it away from the house rather than banking it against the building.
Why? Because excess snow against the house will actually encourage frozen pipes that crack and cause water damage, especially if you have multiple snowfalls and that white fluff builds up.
Get a Snow Melting Mat
Probably the costliest option, but one of the most effective, is purchasing a snow melting mat. These beauties heat the sidewalk and keep them warm and ice-free whenever they’re turned on.
If you tend to get a lot of black ice or have folks who slip a lot, these are a sound investment.
Mix Up Some Dish Soap and Rubbing Alcohol for Sidewalks
One of the fastest and most environmentally friendly ways to clear ice and snow from the path is this simple and cheap mixture. Combine one teaspoon of dish soap with a half-gallon of water and one tablespoon of rubbing alcohol.
Mix and pour on. Watch the ice disappear!
Use Water to Free Tires
If you’re not able to free up your tires via shoveling, grab some room temperature water and dump it on. Skip the boiling or hot water, though.
The extreme temperature difference can cause tire damage. Hot water also is more likely to refreeze than room temp water, making your car even more stuck. If you’re really stuck, add some rock salt, too. The combo should do it.
Hot Water for Pavement
Where you can use hot water is pavement. Dump on some boiling or hot water to break up the ice – but do this in the warmest part of the day. Then, immediately shovel or sweep the debris away to keep it from refreezing on the path.
Spray on Some Cooking Oil for Easier Shoveling
To save time while shoveling, grab some cooking oil and spray it on thick on the snow shovel. It helps the snow slide right off, saving you time.
It also helps save you some effort in shoveling – it just scoots right in there and picks up that snow.
Cover it Up with a Tarp
One more time and the energy-saving hack is simply using a tarp to cover stuff up before a snowfall. If you know there’s a storm coming, cover the car before it hits. When you’re ready to drive again, just remove the tarp (help recommended!), and voila! Your car is ready to go.
Cover It, Clear It, Save It!
Whichever hacks you decide to use, you’ll save yourself a bunch of time and energy – and make the driveways and walkways safer for you and the family through these ice, snow, and ice dam removal hacks.
Personally, I’m all about the water for the tires (I’ve done this more times than I care to think about!) and other natural and eco-friendly methods. Hopefully, these will help you manage this winter better than ever.
Don’t forget to leave your windshield wipers up!