23 ingenious tricks to help you make it through winter

Christopher Furlong/Getty ImagesStay warm out there.
  • Whether you’re prepared or not, winter is here – it officially starts on December 21.
  • Here are the best tips for surviving winter this year.
  • For example, if your car is stuck in the snow, use kitty litter for traction.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Winter is coming.

While you may feel like it’s already here, the first official day of winter, the winter solstice, is Saturday, December 21.

Here are some helpful hacks for staying warm, and keeping your house, shoes, and even your bike in top top shape.

If your car is stuck in the snow, use kitty litter for traction.

John Weast/Getty ImagesWhile salt is the best, kitty litter will do the trick.

Kitty litter is a great alternative to salt. While it doesn’t help melt the ice, it will help your car get some traction on icy roads and driveways to prevent sliding.

Turn old sweaters into mittens.

Andrew Harnik for The Washington Post/Getty ImagesThese will keep your hands toasty.

Even if crafting isn’t your strong suit, turning sweaters into mittens is surprisingly simple, as well as cheap. All you need is a mitten template, scissors, and a thread and needle.

You can also make socks.

Invest in an electric blanket and a hot water bottle to save money on electricity.

Agenturfotografin/ShutterstockYour sheets will be nice and warm.

If astronomical electricity bills got you down, invest in an electric blanket, which will keep you warm without breaking the bank. Here are Insider’s picks for the best ones.

Hot water bottles are another option for keeping you toasty at night. They have a few other uses too.

Protect your pets’ paws from the salt on the ground with Vaseline.

Dominic Ebenbichler/REUTERSKeep your little friend’s paws moisturized.

Just like us, dogs (or cats) can get dry skin in the winter, exacerbated by the ice, snow, and salt on the ground. To avoid painful skin cracking or peeling on your pal’s paws, apply Vaseline before taking them outside.

Take shorter showers to avoid drying out your skin.

Anna Omelchenko/shutterstockThe colder the shower the better for your skin.

Even though taking long, hot showers sounds like the best way to fight the cold, it’s actually drying out your skin, as hot water will strip away skins’ natural oils.

Dry oil is another solution to this problem – many beauty products have added it to their products.

Use sandwich bags on your socks to keep your feet dry.

George Marks/Retrofile/Getty ImagesThere’s nothing worse than wet feet.

Investing in a good pair of snow boots is probably a good idea, but if that’s just not in the budget this year, layering socks and plastic bags is a quick and easy alternative.

Keep dry shampoo in your bag to avoid hat hair.

Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/Getty ImagesEven the trendiest hats will leave your hair flat.

Unless you plan on wearing your beanie all day, hat hair is a problem that many people face every winter. To avoid greasiness and/or flatness, a quick spray of dry shampoo will have your hair looking clean and voluminous.

Snow proof your bike tires with zip ties.

Peter Voronov/ShutterstockBiking can be especially dangerous in cold weather.

While sliding around in your car is terrifying, sliding on ice while biking is worse. A simple way to help your bike get some traction on slippery roads is to attach zip ties around your tires.

Use cooking spray to help clear your car of snow and ice.

mooremedia/ShutterstockCooking spray makes shoveling easier.

Yup, you can use cooking spray (non-stick, obviously) to keep the snow and ice from sticking to your shovel.

Organise your scarves in a closet organiser to stop them from getting all tangled up.

ShutterstockUse a closet organiser to keep things tangle-free.

Every minute counts when you’re running late in the morning. To avoid grabbing a scarf and accidentally pulling out every scarf you own, store them in a closet organiser.

Use old orange peels to start a fire in no time.

CyrilLutz/ShutterstockPeels are better than crumpled newspaper.

Save your orange peels. They’re full of oils that make them flammable, making starting a fire a piece of cake. Bonus: it will smell citrusy.

Drive over a penny to check whether your tire tread is safe enough for winter.

Krasula/ShutterstockYou not might know about tire treads, but they’re important!

The Penny Test,” as it’s known, tests if your car’s tires still have a deep enough tread to make them safe enough for winter driving (tread is what gives the tire traction).

In the US, tire tread depth should be 2/32″ minimum. To check whether your tires need replacing, place a penny between the tread ribs with Lincoln’s head pointing down into the tread. If his head is visible, it might be time for a new tire.

Use a razor to free your sweater of pills and fuzz.

tomertu/ShutterstockThink about all the fuzz that could get stuck to these.

Pilly sweaters are annoying. To give your sweaters a face lift, scrape the pills off with a razor.

Put screws in your shoes to avoid slips and falls.

bbernard/ShutterstockMake sure you’re properly dressed if you plan on running outside.

Simply drill screws into the thicker parts of your soles as you would into a wall for extra traction. It’s actually pretty simple.

Keep your toilet seat warm with socks.

stockphotofan1/ShutterstockAvoid a situation like this.

A cold toilet seat can put a damper on any morning, but socks can help. This will only work if your toilet seat is U-shaped, not a complete oval, but all it involves is taking a pair of socks and popping them on the ends of the seat. This should keep your butt warm through spring.

Warm up your eyeliner to make it go on more smoothly.

bowie15/iStockCold eyeliner is the worst.

If it feels like you’re taking an actual lead pencil to your eyes, your eyeliner is too cold. There are two solutions to this problem: one is washing your hands, taking the top of your eyeliner between two fingers and holding onto it for around 20 seconds, and the other is using a blow dryer to heat up the tip for two or three seconds.

Use a spatula or a credit card to free your windshield of ice if you don’t have an ice scraper handy.

Loop Images/Universal Images Group/Getty ImagesA frozen windshield isn’t the best thing to wake up to.

In a pinch, anything with a hard plastic edge can be used as an ice scraper.

Switch the direction of your fan to save on your energy bill.

passion3/ShutterstockWinterize your ceiling fan.

You can potentially save up to 15% on your energy bill by “winterizing” your ceiling fan – aka simply switching the direction it spins in. Blades are angled, so in the summer, running counter-clockwise will push air down. In the winter, the fan should run clockwise, thereby drawing colder air up.

Park your car facing east to minimise ice.

Alexander_Borisenko/ShutterstockUse the sun to help defrost your car.

By parking your car east, the rising sun will help defrost your car. It’s just basic science.

Cover your windshield wipers with socks so they don’t get stuck.

KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/DPA/AFP/Getty ImagesSocks will keep your windshield wipers safe.

Pull your windshield wipers so they’re sticking straight up in the air, and then put socks on them.

Make your own hand warmers to keep your hands toasty.

David Caudery/PhotoPlus Magazine/Future/Getty ImagesHelpful.

Instead of buying hand warmers, consider making your own. Thanks to peel-and-stick hem tape, they’re no-sew. All you need is the tape, some fabric, rice, and scissors.

Rice has great heat retention, so these little guys will stay warm once you pop them into the microwave for 30 or so seconds.

Make clay pot heaters to warm up a room.

EhlersTV/YouTubeIt even looks like a little lamp.

There are a lot of videos on how to make clay pot heaters, but this one is simple and easy to follow.

With a pot, some screws and a couple of candles, you have a cheap and aesthetically pleasing mini space heater, as the pot will capture the candles’ heat, letting it slowly build up.

Cover your car mirrors with sandwich bags to protect them.

Alex Davies / Business InsiderA simpler, warmer time.

Scraping off snow and ice from your side mirrors can be more annoying than your windshield, simply because they’re easy to forget about. But, if you cover them with Ziploc or sandwich bags, they will be protected from the elements.

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