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6 essentials you'll want before the next snowstorm rolls around

Snow cleanup doesn't have to be so bad

Snow shovel propped up on a dark car covered in snow, surrounded by snow on the ground Credit: Getty Images / tacojim

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Several parts of the U.S. have already seen plenty of snowfall this winter season. And while we may all be wishing for less snow and more sunshine on these cold winter days, there's no telling how much more snow Mother Nature will bring over the next couple of months.

If you haven't stocked up on essentials for tackling snow cleanup yet, you've still got time to grab the items you'll need. Whether you're combatting slippery ice or several feet of snow, we've tested plenty of winter must-haves to get you through it. Here are six things to buy now to get you through the rest of winter. And trust us, you'll be happy to have them when snow arrives.

1. Invest in a good shovel

Person using a snow shovel on a large pile of snow.
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

A good snow shovel can clear out a decent chunk of snow in no time (and, without all the heavy work).

One of the core tools in your arsenal for digging yourself out of the snow is a sturdy snow shovel. We've tested plenty of snow shovels and found the Suncast 18-Inch Snow Shovel to be the best option for a few consecutive years now. While this shovel is a bit on the pricier side, it's a great shovel to have for any season. Not only will you plenty of use out of it year-round, but its shorter handle and well-balanced design make using it a breeze.

If you don't need a multitasker of a shovel, we recommend the Ames True Temper Aluminum Combo Blade Shovel. This one is a bit more tuned for snow removal and has some efficient plow capabilities. The True Temper also has a steel wear strip to help prevent snow from freezing to the shovel.

2. If it's too much to shovel, get a snow blower

A close-up of the Snow Joe snowblower doing its thing: blowing snow.
Credit: Snow Joe

In 2020, we're due for lots of heavy, wet snow, which can be tough to manually shovel away. A snowblower can help save your arms and back from the labor.

Depending on where you live, it's possible a shovel won't cut it. If you're in an area that's forecasted to get hit hard, it may make sense to invest in a snow blower. A good snow blower can help you breeze through the chore of clearing your walkways and driveway, leaving the most back-breaking part of the work to the machine.

When it comes to snow blowers, we've liked the Snow Joe Ultra SJ623E. This is an electric thrower, so there's no need to mess around with gas, oil, priming, or pulling—just get a suitably long extension cord and you're good to go. The motor is powerful enough to throw snow about 25 feet and the chute rotates 180-degrees so you can avoid blowing into the wind. The SJ623E can move up to 720 lbs. of snow movement per minute (yes, you read that correctly) which means it can clear a driveway of average length with half a foot of accumulation in about 20 minutes. Shoveling the same amount could take hours.

This is also one of the lower price we've seen this snowblower at recently, so it may be a good use of resources to invest in it now, before the snow starts to hit and prices go up again.

3. Get some ice melt for your walkways and driveway

Salt melts ice because of the way its ions interact with water.

Once you've gotten most of the snow cleared away, you'll probably have a sheet of ice lying underneath. That's where ice melt comes in, an appropriately-named product if we've ever seen one. While you could technically just use table salt to clear away unwanted ice, we wouldn't recommend it for your driveway or walkways. It's much more effective to use rock salt.

We had some great luck with Blue Heat Snow and Ice Melter Rock Salt. While it takes ice melt a little while to get started, it has a lot of penetrative power: After an hour, we found individual granules had bored deep fissures into a solid block of ice, making it much easier to break apart and shovel aside.

You could also mix in some high-traction mineral granules to help provide a bit more traction on particularly difficult surfaces and to help prevent ice from reforming as quickly.

For an ice melt that's pet-friendly, try the SafePaw Ice Melt that's free of any salt or chloride materials. The brand says it's safe to be around and if ingested (although, we'd keep your furry friends from actively eating any ice melt), won't hurt your plants or grass, and won't damage your driveway or other surfaces.

4. An ice scraper and snow brush for your car

Someone using the Mallory snow brush to clean off a windshield.
Credit: Hopkins Manufacturing

A few folks at our office swear by this Mallory snow brush.

Now that the driveway is clear again, it's time to dig out your car. When it comes to scraping the ice away, we have a perennial favorite at our office: the Mallory Snow Brush.

A few of us at Reviewed absolutely swear by this thing. The foam grip is thick and easy to handle, the scraper is strong and can last years without chipping or shattering. Plus, the brush is wide enough to get the snow off the roof. This one is a best-seller on Amazon and we can certainly see why.

Get the Mallory Snow Brush from Amazon for $10.99

5. Don't let winter ice lock you out

A shot of someone using a lock de-icer to de-ice a windshield.
Credit: Concept Laboratories

Lock de-icers are best when they're set up for general use. We prefer spray bottles and canisters to the small-nozzled tubes.

Nothing is worse than making it through the blustery cold and over the slippery ice to your front door or car, only to realize that snowmelt runoff has found its way down into the lock and has subsequently frozen the lock solid. While keyless entry and fobs have made this less of an issue than it used to be, if you still rely on turning a key to get into places, it makes sense to invest in a bottle of lock de-icer to safeguard against getting stranded.

We typically like de-icers that are more multipurpose, like the Prestone Windshield De-Icer. While you can get some that specialize in locks specifically, those typically come in bottles or tubes that make the products ill-suited for use outside of a lock de-icing context. We've found the generalized de-icers work just as well and are better suited for use in other contexts, such as spraying away any stubborn windshield ice.

Get the Prestone Windshield De-Icer from Walmart for $3.12

6. Keep your windshield fluid topped off

A close-up of fluid getting sprayed onto a windshield.
Credit: 2010 Products

If you always seem to run out of fluid right around the time your windshield is crusted up with salt, then make sure you're topped-off before the snowfall starts.

It's best to double-check that your windshield fluid levels are full before the bad weather starts to hit. Not only do you not want to get stuck without fluid when your windshield is covered in salty, icy muck, but refilling it while it's sleeting outside is less than ideal. Finding de-icer for your car in a pinch can also be difficult, as most convenience stores tend to jack up the prices in the middle of a storm.

We'd recommend investing in some concentrated washer fluid. Concentrated wiper and de-icer fluid is ideal because one bottle can make up to 55 gallons of fluid. That means you'll always have some on hand, without having to sacrifice 55 gallons worth of storage space.

Get the 2010 Windshield Washer Fluid Concentrate from Amazon for $25.99

Stay prepared for whatever this winter can throw at you

Woman shovels snow outside her home in UK
Credit: Getty Images / PaulMaguire

As long as you're properly prepared, no amount of snow can keep you down this winter.

As long as you know what to expect and you've stocked up on the essentials, you should be able to wait out the winter with relative ease. The worst snow-based situations result from being caught unprepared, which can leave you both literally and figuratively out in the cold.

If you're looking for more ways to prep for winter, we have plenty of more tips for keeping your home and your household safe before more winter weather strikes.

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