15 Useful Winter Hacks to Help You Survive the Next Few Months

by: Esteban On  Thursday, January 16, 2014
Tags:  Cars & Gear   Hacks   Winter  

winter hacks

The first six weeks of winter are always pretty tolerable. Sure, it’s cold and icy, but you’ve got Christmas and New Year’s Eve to look forward to, with all the parties and merriment…and booze. Hell, you even find yourself hoping for snow come December 23rd or so, simply because some dude named Irving wrote a song about it half a century ago.

Now, though? Yeah, now all the fun is over, we’re sick of the snow, and the thought of dealing with it for another two months is just depressing. However, you don’t have to let winter defeat your spirit. Today, in fact, we’re going to give you a few handy tricks and tips to handle a lot of the problems nature throws at you in January and February.

Will they take the place of a week in the Caribbean? No way. But they will help you when all you want to do is go home but your car door is frozen shut.

Speaking of which…


15. Heat Your Key to Unfreeze Your Car Lock

heat car key to thaw lock - winter hacks

When it gets really cold, the slightest big of moisture in your car’s lock can freeze it up. So how do you thaw it out? Well, you could keep some de-icer spray handy. But if you didn’t think ahead, try heating your key up with a lighter or matches. It might just provide enough radiant heat to thaw things out.

Just make sure you’re wearing gloves, though. That key is going to get very hot if you do it right.


14. Or Use a Blow Dryer

hair dryer to thaw car door - winter hacks

If the old “heat the key” trick doesn’t work, you might need to step things up a notch and bust out a hair dryer. Obviously hair dryers won’t get as hot as a key held over an open flame, but unlike the hot key they’ll keep on pumping hot air on the lock until it’s thawed.

Of course, you’re going to need an extension cord to make this hack work. And, obviously, a hair dryer. Hopefully if you don’t have a special lady living at your place you at least have a friendly female neighbor.


13. Cook Everything in the Oven

cooking in oven - winter hacks

It can get expensive blasting the heat to keep you warm on frigid days, so why not kill two birds with one stone. Since you’ve gotta eat, cook all your meals in the oven on really cold days—even things you might not normally cook in the oven, like bacon. Then, when you’re done, leave the oven door open. That should warm things up a bit.


12. Your Ceiling Fan Can Keep You Warm

ceiling fan reverse air flow - winter hacks

Another pro tip for keeping your place warm on especially cold days? Turn on your ceiling fan.

No, I’m not crazy. Ever hear the expression “warm air rises”? Well, it does. It’s science. And what this means is that the warmest air in any room is going to be up by the ceiling, while the coldest air is going to be by the floor. How do you get that warmer air back down where you’re hanging out? You turn on the fan to stir it all up.

If you don’t want to feel a breeze blowing down on you, just flip the switch so that the fan works in reverse. (Yes, ceiling fans have those.) That will suck air up and shoot it across the ceiling, and your room will be warmer.


11. Kitty Litter for Traction

kitty litter for traction - winter hacks

When your car gets stuck in the snow, having some sand to sprinkle around your tires can be the difference between getting out and freezing your butt off. But where do they sell sand? That’s right, at the hardware store. And chances are you probably weren’t planning on stopping by Home Depot on your way home from work tonight. You might, however, be planning to stop by the grocery store. And at the grocery store they have an excellent sand substitute: kitty litter.

So yeah, keep a couple twenty pound bags of kitty litter in your trunk on snowy days. They’ll put some weight on your back tires—which is great for traction if you have rear-wheel drive—and if you do get stuck you’ll have something to provide a little traction.


10. Or Use Your Car's Floor Mats

car floor mats for traction - winter hacks

Another great trick for getting your car out of a snowbank? Your floor mats. Place them on the spot where you tires are spinning out, then gentley rock your car back and forth to build up some momentum. You’ll be free in no time.

Yes, this probably will trash your mats. But it’ll be your own fault for not planning ahead and having some kitty litter in your trunk.


9. Wet Shoes + Newspaper = Dry Shoes

newspaper to dry shoes - winter hacks

You might think that the best thing to do when your shoes get all soaking wet is place them over the heating register or on the radiator. But if that’s the case, you’re very wrong. Yes, that will dry your shoes, but it will also shrink them and damage the materials.

Instead, stuff and wrap your shoes with newspaper. They’ll help wick the moisture out of the shoes surprisingly fast.


8. Hot Water Bottle for a Warm Bed

hot water bottle in bed - winter hacks

In the olden days (like before they had electricity in every house) people kept warm with fire places and wood-burning stoves. This worked well if they were sitting within 15 feet of the flames, but if left their beds ice cold. Thus, they’d warm up their bed by putting hot water tanks or even burning coals in their beds—which, obviously, was kind of insane.

Fortunately, today we have central heating, which means our beds aren’t going to be freezing when it’s time to get in. However, it’s still nice to get into a warm bed, and if you don’t have an electric blanket that can be a problem.

Solution? Hot water bottles. Just fill them up with hot water and put them under the covers for a few minutes. Your bed will be nice and toasty.


7. Use a Sprinkler to Clean Your Undercarriage

sprinkler to clean under car - winter hacks

If you are lucky enough to get a day or two above freezing—sorry, Minnesota, this one doesn’t apply to you—clean all the dirt, salt, and ice off the undercarriage of your car with a regular lawn sprinkler. Just slide it under your car and drive and and fourth a bit. It will work wonders.


6. Cardboard Will Save Your Toes at Football Games

cardboard under feet - winter hacks

If you’re heading out to an outdoor football game in a cold-weather climate—like, say, Super Bowl Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey—you can keep your toes from freezing off by harnesses space age cardboard technology.

You heard me right: cardboard technology. You see, the concrete floor of the stadium will actually suck warmth right out of your feet, but cardboard is an excellent insulator. So putting a piece of that under your feet will actually keep your feet warm.


5. Credit Card = Ice Scraper

credit card as ice scraper - winter hacks

I have no reason why anyone who owns a car would not own an ice scraper. However, if for some reason you do find yourself without one at some point this winter, in a pinch you can use a credit card (or maybe that gift card you got to The Olive Garden) to scrap ice off your windshield.

Ideal? No. Effective? Somewhat.


4. Use Vinegar to Keep Your Windshield Ice-Free

cooking spray snow shovel - winter hacks

Of course, the ideal situation would be to avoid getting ice on your windshield the first place, and you can actually do that by mixing three parts vinegar with one part water and spraying the mixture on there before you go to bed at night. If it snows, obviously, you’ll still have to dust it off. But you won’t get a thick layer of ice.


3. Running Tights Make Great Long Underwear

running tights - winter hacks

While I am completely, 100% opposed to the very idea of running tights for the purpose of running—unless you are a professional runner—they do make a fantastic substitution for long underwear. For one thing, they fit better than long underwear do. For another thing, they will actually wick any moister away from your body instead of holding it in like cotton. And that will keep you warm. So try it out.


2. Spray Your Snow Shovel with Cooking Spray

vinegar to prevent icy windshield - winter hacks

Shoveling a heavy snowfall really sucks, but you can make it easier on yourself by spraying your snow shovel with cooking spray. This creates a non-stick surface on the shovel, which reduces friction and allows the shovel to slice right through and the snow to slide right off. If you’ve never done this, try it. It will change your life.


1. Bubble Wrap Your Windows

bubble wrap windows - winter hacks

Don’t have double-pane windows? Can you feel the frigid air penetrating the room on a particularly cold day? Well, here’s a simple solution: bubble rap. They actually use bubble wrap to insulate greenhouses in the winter, so why not do it in your home on those especially cold days or night? Installation is a breeze: just spray some water on the window, place the flat side of the bubble wrap against the glass, and the stuff will magically stay in place. Then all you have to do is use an exacto knife to trim the edges.

Don’t want the bubble wrap up all the time? Take it down and put it up as often as you want. It’s that easy.