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When it comes to winter gear for your vehicle, arguably the most important tool is an ice scraper or snow brush. They're the tools of choice to defeat those early-morning snow-covered windshields (we see you, credit-card scrapers!). Store one in your trunk or under a seat, and you're ready to roll. But which one should you buy?
We wish it were an easy answer—but like many things, there are a variety of types to choose from. In this test, we'll get into why ice scrapers, snow brushes, and snow brooms all look different and help you decide which one you should buy.
Things to Consider
The most important aspect to consider before you purchase a snow removal tool is your expected use. How often will you use it? What kind of snow will you be removing? Do you need a large or small scraper? Will you need to purchase an extension pole, or does it come with the product? To help answer these questions, let's get into the types of snow removal tools.
Type of Snow Removal Tool You Need
There are three main types of snow-removal tools: snow brooms, snow brushes, and ice scrapers. Some include just one of these components, while others combine two or three tools into a snow-removing Frankenstein.
If you live in a climate where endless fluffy snow is the norm, consider a snow broom. This strange-looking tool usually boasts a long reach and a distinctive foam squeegee at one end. It excels at removing large amounts of snow quickly. Simply drag or push it across the windshield and roof of your vehicle and the bulk of the snow will fall away.
The main downside to snow brooms is their lack of effectiveness against ice. Foam squeegees can easily get ripped up and compromised on frozen snow and hard or jagged ice, damaging their key feature. Thankfully, most snow brooms come with an ice scraper on the handle end—use that to remove scratchy ice. Another thing to keep in mind is storage, as these devices can take up more room in your vehicle than the other two types, especially if you use an extension pole.
If you deal with consistently low to moderate snow totals throughout the winter, we recommend a snow brush for your winter kit. A snow brush is a midpoint between the strengths and weaknesses of a snow broom: It doesn't remove as much snow as quickly but is far more compact. These tools work well at flinging off small to medium amounts of snow, along with getting in crevices snow brooms can't, such as around mirrors, headlights, and door handles.
The downside to these is that a snow brush can't remove large amounts of snow quickly the way a snow broom can, and they may not reach all the way across the roof of your car, truck, or SUV. That said, the stowability of a snow brush makes it easier to balance its pros and cons. If you get the occasional snowstorm but mostly deal with a few inches here and there, a snow brush is a good choice.
When it comes down to it, an ice scraper is pretty darn close to essential. Sure, removing snow is nice, but there's almost always a layer of ice underneath. Snow brooms and brushes can't remove it on their own, which is why most feature a scraper attachment. But you can also simply buy an ice scraper if you don't deal with much snow at all during the winter.
A stand-alone ice scraper can usually fit in the palm of your hand, making storage a breeze. There are a few different styles, which we try out in this test. The downside to these is their lack of snow removal ability, as well as the close proximity of your hands to the ice. Wear gloves: not just to keep your mitts warm in frigid temps but also to protect your fingers and hands from sharp, chipped ice.
Reach is an important thing to factor into your snow removal tool purchase. Brooms have the longest reach, while scrapers have the shortest. If you have trouble reaching the top of your vehicle, consider picking up a snow removal tool (and/or an aftermarket extension pole, widely available) that features an adjustable length—something we found extremely handy during our testing.
Finally, storage is something to keep in mind as well. Decide where you'd want to store the tool inside your vehicle during the winter—and where you're going to put it when the weather warms up. If you're trunk-space challenged, you'll want a smaller scraper; if you have space to spare, a longer snow removal tool can't hurt.
How We Tested Snow Brushes and Ice Scrapers
We waited for a classic Michigan winter storm to roll through, and when one did, it was a doozy. A large amount of snow followed by frigid (double-digit negative!) temperatures created a snowy blanket that covered an icy crust on all our test vehicles. Here are the testing parameters we evaluated:
With warm hearts and frozen fingers, here are the results from our evaluation of the Best Ice Scrapers and Snow Brushes.
We were very impressed with the Eversprout SnowBuster (and we're not alone—see Editor's Note below). We love the wavy S design of the head, as it digs in and pushes and pulls snow efficiently. The 1.5- to 3.0-foot-long extension pole is adjustable thanks to snap locks, allowing you to set the length to whatever you need. Additionally, the removable head is compatible with different-length poles, so it can also be used to scrape snow from your home's roof if you decide to purchase a longer extension pole.
The broom head and scraper head are both quality attachments, but you do have to swap them out. Each attachment uses its entire surface to get the job done, so the design makes sense; incorporating both tools into one head would have compromised the ability of each.
Overall, the SnowBuster is a fantastic snow broom option thanks to an intuitively shaped foam head and excellent adjustability.
Editor's Note: At the time of publication, the SnowBuster was out of stock everywhere, except directly from Eversprout. We reached out to the company, who assured us they were working hard to get the SnowBuster back in stock at major retailers as soon as possible.
532 Snow Brush
For a simple, easy-to-use snow brush that also incorporates an ice scraper, it's hard to go wrong with the Mallory 532. It's not a super-long snow remover, but we like the bristle strength and foam grip. The plastic scraper isn't the greatest, but the length of the tool allows you to apply some leverage to the blade, so it works fine. The whole tool is easy to store in both the vehicle and the garage, and with plenty of colors and styles to choose from, it's super budget-friendly.
For a cheap, no-frills way to remove both ice and snow that you can keep in your vehicle all winter long, this snow brush is a solid choice.
14125 Ice Scraper
If you're looking for a compact ice scraper, we really liked the SubZero 14125. At just 11 inches long, it'll fit quite easily in a glovebox or door pocket. The scraper side is slightly flexible, allowing it to conform to the curves of a windshield. Opposite the scraper is a toothed ice chipper for that extra-thick crusty stuff—we hit our windshield first with the chipper and followed up with the blade for the best results.
We really liked this ice scraper, and the price made it even better.
80037 Snow Broom
This SubZero 80037 is the real "do it all" snow removal tool. Featuring a squeegee for big snow, a brush for hard-to-reach areas, and an ice scraper at the end of the device, this snow removal tool is built to handle it all.
While it does feature all three types of snow removal tools, it doesn't really excel in any particular area. It's good, but not great. For example, the squeegee is made of rubber rather than foam, so we're concerned about its durability over repeated uses in super-cold weather. The incorporated snow brush works fine—but it's kind of awkward to use with this handle. Finally, the foam hand grips kept our hands off the cold metal but had a tendency to slide up and down the pole during use.
This SubZero was fantastic in the adjustability category, though, boasting easy press-button locks and a tilt-able head. In the end, the fact that it integrates all three snow removal tools in one makes it worth considering—but don't expect miracles.
Magical Ice Scraper
This strange-looking thingamabob may not be "magical," but it is indeed an ice scraper—and a shockingly darned good one at that. On one end is a barbed, hardened ABS plastic chipper to loosen and remove thicker ice. On the bottom, the softer, wider end is where the actual ice scraping happens. Simply apply pressure and slide the cone around your windshield. Around its bottom is a sharp edge, which works quite well at clearing ice. As long as we used the ice-chipping side first, this Magical Ice Scraper really opened our eyes—especially as compared to much larger (and far pricier) snow removal tools.
This particular brand was unfamiliar to us before our test, but there are plenty like it on the market. Did we just get lucky with the Clesdf? We're going to buy another one or two to find out—mainly because they're super cheap, often coming in multi-packs, and they don't take up much room at all.
SJBLZD-LED Snow Broom
This Snow Joe Snow Broom was really good at one thing: moving the most snow. Thanks to its extra-wide 18-inch foam blade, this tool swept snow off our test cars in mega chunks. Unfortunately, for us that's where the good stuff stopped.
The handle can only be set at either its shortest or longest length—there isn't a way to lock it at any point in between. The blade has a duller edge than some of the others we tested, and it struggled against the crusty ice underneath the snow. Additionally, we ordered the version with built-in LED lights. The one that arrived didn't have them.
If all you're concerned with is moving lots of snow fast, this is a good choice. But for overall performance, comfort, and effectiveness we preferred the other snow brooms we tested.
Handheld Ice Scraper
This distinctive wedge-shaped ice scraper from Better Stuff is an interesting concept, but in reality it didn't work great in our testing. With ice chippers on one side and a blade on the other, it's supposed to clear ice with a forward-backward sliding motion. It struggled. On the bright side, it is ergonomic and compact, and it feels great in the hand. By holding it like a computer mouse, you can really apply pressure, and the scraping part does work quickly. It's a small gadget to stash in your glovebox, but look elsewhere for efficient ice-scraping action.
On another note, it's interesting that the blade is made with a brass alloy, which Better Stuff claims is harder than ice and softer than glass. We didn't notice any scratches on our test car windows when we were finished, but it definitely gave us pause before using it. We're still not certain we'd scrape that sharp brass edge across the windshields of our personal vehicles.
Ice Scraper with Glove
No, this isn't an omelet flipper; this is actually an ice scraper from SCRUBIT. Another great idea in theory, but it fell flat in the real world. Inside the glove is a plastic handle you hold that does the scraping, rather than your fingertips. Sounds nice, right? Unfortunately, the handle inside is not comfortable and the clear plastic scraping edge is poor. But hey, you won't get snow on your hand.
Wielding one of these on each hand might make you unstoppable in the event of a zombie snowpocalypse. The morning after simply a cold snow, however, we recommend looking elsewhere for a tool to clear your windshield.
How We Tested Ice Scrapers and Snow Brushes
There's a row of old beater cars at Car and Driver's office that the Gear Team used for this test, including a Mitsubishi Eclipse and a lifted Ford Bronco. The first sizable storm arrived in Michigan later in the season than usual this winter, but when it did come, a blanket of wet snow followed by frigid subzero temps created a thick icy crust, ideal for testing ice scrapers and snow brushes.
Before we set to work clearing the cars, we measured each tool's total length plus the width of the scraper or broom. Next, we took notes on construction and overall build quality, evaluating things like foam stiffness and handle adjustability. Once all the numbers were logged, we ventured out into the chilly air to get to work.
We then observed performance: how the snow brooms acted on the top fluffy layer of snow. Next, we checked the broom's ability to brush away snow in hard-to-reach crevices. Finally, we scraped the lower layer of ice away with each ice scraper.
What is the best kind of ice scraper?
This depends on what type of snow or ice you'll want to remove from your vehicle. For an occasional light snow, you'll be fine with a little handheld scraper that can fit in your glovebox. If you have to deal with heavy snow and ice, you'll want to get a snow broom or brush with an ice scraper attached.
Where can I store my ice scraper or snow brush?
The best option is to keep it in your vehicle throughout winter and then store it in your garage when snow isn't an issue. Some snow brooms come with a hole for easy hanging. Small ice scrapers can be stored in your glovebox, in a cabin cubby, or under a seat, while full-size snow brooms will probably need to be stored in the trunk.
For reference, the snow brooms shown in the picture above are adjusted to their shortest length to show how much room they take up in a typical trunk next to a basketball.
Why can't I just use my windshield wipers?
Technically, you can—it's just not good for them. Wipers are made with rubber blades that quickly wear and tear if used on ice, and once that happens, they'll never clear water off a windshield like they're supposed to.
Additionally, heavy snow and ice buildup can actually freeze the blades to your windshield. If you try to use the wipers while they're pinned, you risk damaging the wiper mechanism—which can cost big bucks to replace.
Can I use an ice scraper on my whole car?
You should only use ice scrapers on glass, as even a plastic scraper can scratch your paint. If you want to minimize the risk of scratching your paint, a snow broom or brush is the way to go.
Why Trust Us
Hearst Autos combines the talent, resources, and expertise of three of the largest, most influential automotive publications in the world. The Gear Team has tested a wide variety of automotive products, parts, accessories, and gear, such as car covers, portable jump starters, and garage flooring. We get our hands on each and every product we test. Most are purchased; some are supplied by manufacturers.
The Gear Team doesn't need to game algorithms for traffic or promote lousy products for clicks. We're more concerned with our reputation and the trust that our readers have in Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track to deliver honest opinions and expert evaluations.
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