I don't care if the handle is a cozy mitten, the scraper still doesn't work!
October 29, 2011 5:40 AM   Subscribe

Is there a car window scraper that doesn't suck?

I feel like I have bought over a dozen car window scrapers in my time and regardless of price they never do the job. Have you found that one scraper that actually works? Are there newer snow/frost removal inventions that I haven't discovered?

Also, any tried and true tips for dealing with snow and ice when you don't have a garage much appreciated! This winter I have to deal with an open parking lot that is poorly maintained, doesn't get a lot of sun (i.e. melting) in the morning and the snow gets deep.

(I have read this thread and am considering some suggestions there as well, just curious if there are any newer or different solutions)
posted by Wuggie Norple to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe I'm a global warming jerk, but the handful of days my car is iced over so bad I can't remove it with my bare hands (I live in metro NY) I just let my car warm up. Doesn't take long and I don't like to drive the engine cold anyhow.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:12 AM on October 29, 2011

Best answer: I have an ice scraper that I love, it's a thin brass edge held by a heavy duty red plastic handle, like this one:


I think since the metal is slightly conductive it seems to help break up the ice more, and because the metal is thinner and has a harder edge than plastic it works far more efficiently than the plastic sort.
posted by ottergrrl at 6:44 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Long handles are the key. Frankly, we get ours at the dollars store, but having a three foot long handle gives you the leverage necessary to do the job.
posted by anastasiav at 6:50 AM on October 29, 2011

I can tell you one thing from experience, don't waste your money on the electric heated ones.
posted by escabeche at 7:01 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Be sure to get a snow broom (I'll be watching this thread to see which one people prefer).
posted by la petite marie at 7:18 AM on October 29, 2011

What's wrong with the ice scrapers you've had? Are they too short? Do they break? Are they useless at chipping ice? Do the bristles fall off?

Ideally you want an ice scraper that has an ice chipper, a brush, and a long handle. Something like this does the trick. The brush is super handy for getting the snow off, and the long handle keeps you from getting snow all over your hands.

I know this may sound silly, but it really helps to wear gloves/mittens when you remove snow from your car. Removing snow and ice with your bare hands will just make you miserable because your hands will just get number the longer you spend cleaning the snow. Then, when you're done, you still have to sit around even longer so you can wait for the feeling to come back into your hands so you can drive. For times like this, I highly suggest keeping a spare pair of cheap gloves in your car. It will save your hands a lot of pain in the end.
posted by nikkorizz at 7:25 AM on October 29, 2011

I did not grow up with snow and ice, but now live and drive in Chicago. I say this so you know that my response to my car windows has arisen organically, and not from watching other people do it. Three things: turn car on to warm it up, use a really un-fancy ice scraper to break up the big stuff, use a shower squeegee to do the final pass.

The ice scraper gets the ice off but leaves a streaky, messy surface; the squeegee leaves a clean, dry surface but does nothing for the ice. But with their power combined...
posted by phunniemee at 7:50 AM on October 29, 2011

Cool Tools also recommends the one ottergrrl posted. I've been meaning to order one this year before it's too late.
posted by bcwinters at 7:56 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

As someone who has always had to keep their cars outside, here's what I've got to offer:
- The easiest way is to plan ahead and use your time to let the car's defroster do the work for you. Since you're in a parking lot, you probably can't go turn the car on and walk away. Plan to do something for five minutes while you're sitting in the car - send a few texts, go over your planner for the day. After the car warms up, the ice will melt away - with a little wiper help of course. Oh and make sure your wiper fluid is the kind with de-icer in it, it helps a bit too.

- If you don't have time, there is always the chemical method. My parents get the Prestone ones in our stockings every year. Just spray it on and the ice melts away.

I have also purchased and love this snow broom- which really helps with deep snow removal from my vehicle, especially on the roof of my car. And with the soft brushes, it doesn't scratch my paint.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:57 AM on October 29, 2011

I think we have this one at home. It works well, but around here we gets lots of snow and relatively little ice.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:02 AM on October 29, 2011

Best answer: Here in Minnesota, you will have to wait a very long time if you simply turn on your car and wait for the defrosters to kick in. I have two ice scrapers, both super cheap. I also do not have a garage.

1) Brush tool. This one has a brush that I use for snow. The ice scraper itself is super crappy, and I broke most of it trying to destroy ice chunks behind my wheels. But it still works to brush snow off.

2) Ice scraper. This looks crappy, but it is not. Have you ever experienced sleet and frozen rain that makes it impossible to open your car doors, let alone chip out your windshield wipers? This thing is for you. You flip over the scraper and use the ridges on the top to carve cross hatches in the ice. This is genius. Then you turn it over the usual way and scrape away. The handle is the right length and doesn't get in your way when you are working up a sweat chopping the ice off your car. It's small enough to keep in the little space at the bottom of your drivers' side door. It is also strong enough to use to stab/destroy the monster icicles that form behind your wheels when it's too cold to kick them off/apart with your feet. (My dad uses a screwdriver to stab these icicles, but I'm too afraid that I'll accidentally stab my tires)
posted by Maarika at 8:13 AM on October 29, 2011

Jumping in: The problem I've always had with frost scrapers (we don't actually get much ice and snow, just a lot of frost) is that only about an inch or two actually connects with the windshield at any given time. Scraping my whole windshield in one inch stripes takes too long. Recommendations for a scraper that really clears a wider stripe?

And good work thinking of a question that I only think about when I'm out there cursing in the morning.
posted by anaelith at 8:15 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've had one of those brass-edge scrapers, and it was fantastic. So, thanks for the reminder, I think I'll get them for all the winter drivers in my family. I keep a small plastic shovel in the car and have used it many times to remove large amounts of snow from the windshield, roof, and hood. And it's handy if you get stuck. I keep several crappy plastic scrapers in the xcar, too, because passengers get to help clear the windows.

Be careful of using the defrost. I cracked my windshield on a cold day due to the heat of the defrost and the cold window.
posted by theora55 at 8:21 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

For frost, I use a plastic card (think credit card) that I just keep in my car. Sometimes it's a membership card of some sort, or it might be my blood donor card. You get the idea. The plastic is firm enough to withstand the scraping, and flexible enough to bend to the curve of the window. Works great.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:40 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've had the exact snow broom that NoraCharles suggests; it worked well, but I had to replace it last year --- ALL scrapers need replacing sooner or later: you want a smooth straight edge on 'em, and over time, chipping ice chips the scraper, too. I prefer a plastic scraper to a metal-edged one, because I've seen a couple people badly scratch up their window glass with the metal.

You could try a tarp or car cover; the difficulty here is that you need to cover the car BEFORE the ice or snow gets onto your car, then you can simply haul off the ice-covered tarp.

If you'll permit, I frankly suspect it's your technique, not your scrapper; I've been scraping off cars ever since I was 7 years old & our elderly neighbor discovered I'd grown *just* tall enough to do it for him (plus he paid! A whole nickel, all for me!). Keep the edge of the scraper flat to the glass, so you're using the whole width of it, not just a corner. There really isn't any instant solution to clearing off the car, sorry! Just dress warm, wear boots & good gloves and give yourself plenty of time.
1. Use the brush to remove any snow around the door edges (this is why you should keep the snowbroom with you, not leave it in the car....): you want to be able to open the door without dumping a ton of snow inside to melt on your seat.
2. Start the car, and turn both the heater and the defroster (front and rear, if you have it) to high. Get out, closing the car door to keep the heat in.
3. Start by using the broom to push off ALL the snow on the car: on the roof, the hood, the trunk, the lights, everywhere.
4. Hopefully by now the defroster has softened up the ice, so start scraping the windshield, then the side and back windows. If there's ice on the lights, scrape that off too.
posted by easily confused at 8:41 AM on October 29, 2011

I've got the Snobrum and it works great. I second the technique of starting the car, using the snobrum on the roof and hood, and saving the ice scraping for last. The ice will at least have softened up a little. For a while I just used a push broom to get snow off the top, but the weight of a wooden broom becomes tiring. However, I am short and my jeep is tall, so ymmv. The Snobrum is very lightweight and -- I'm not sure what the official technique is -- I drop it onto the middle of the roof and pull the snow off towards me. I can clear the car much faster than when I just used a brush.

You will have the ultimate satisfaction of kicking all those icicle goobers off your wheel wells before you leave.
posted by Marit at 11:40 AM on October 29, 2011

We don't have a garage either. For the longest time I used a generic brush with a scraper on the end of it. Last year I got this fold out brush/broom/scraper thing and it worked much better. It has a squeegee edge which does a pretty good job of getting ice off, especially if the heater / rear-melter have been turned on, and then the standard plastic scraper at the end for the ice that just won't come off.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:33 PM on October 29, 2011

Best answer: It's all about technique and handle length. I've scraped off many-a-car with many-a-scraper and can tell you that the longer the handle, the more leverage you'll get, the faster your car will be ice free.

You also want to move quickly. Lots of short, jerky movements are more effective than long, smooth movements.

1: Put a hand on the back of the blade of the scrape.
2: Put your other hand comfortably near the bottom/back of the handle.
3: Apply pressure onto the windshield with your first hand through the scrape blade.
4: Cause motion of the scraper using your second hand.

Essentially, the "front" hand pushes down and the "back" and pushes across.
posted by 47triple2 at 1:45 PM on October 29, 2011

Response by poster: So hard to mark best answers! Thank you also for the technique suggestions; hard to think about in below zero weather but I should remember it too...
posted by Wuggie Norple at 3:24 PM on October 30, 2011

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