The Best Ice Scraper

After spending more than 24 hours on research and attacking ice-clad vehicles in single-digit Massachusetts temperatures, we found that the $20 Hopkins 14039 Sub Zero Extendable 50" Crossover Snow Broom is the ice scraper to have ready when the storm blows in. A new round of 2015 testing against four new models has confirmed that the Crossover Snow Broom is still the best tool for most people—it cleared frozen windows the fastest thanks to its superior balance between blade and handle, tough scraping surface, and deep ice-scoring teeth.

Last Updated: January 13, 2015
We spent 24 hours on research and clearing ice-covered vehicles in single-digit temperatures to find the $20 Hopkins Crossover Snow Broom is still the best ice scraper. In our tests, it was the fastest at clearing frozen windows because of its tough scraping surface and deep ice-scoring teeth.
Expand Most Recent Updates
November 6, 2014: We’re currently researching new ice scrapers, and we plan to do a larger update when the weather is cold enough to test them. In the meantime, the Hopkins is still our favorite ice scraper and we continue to stand by all the other picks in this guide.

We’re also sticking with our picks for the runner-up option and the best scraper for small cars. We also stand by our pick for the best scraper for larger cars, and if it’s unavailable, we found a new tool that works as a strong runner-up option for big-car drivers.

The fastest scraper we tested has a strong blade, tough teeth, and a handy broom. Plus, it has better balance and ergonomics than anything else out there.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $18.

Our main pick is an extendable ice scraper that clears frozen windows quickly—its average time of 2 minutes, 30 seconds was the fastest of all—with a sharp, durable scraping edge, ice-scoring teeth, and a blade design that can even get the ice wedged against window corners and wiper blades. Plus, the angle between the blade and the handle maximizes the leverage you can use to penetrate thick ice, and padded grips on the curved shaft help you put a lot of force behind each stroke.

On the opposite end of the handle, a pivoting snow broom can brush a heap off the car’s roof. The handles click securely together at the different length settings, and the tool works whether it’s extended to the full 50 inches or compressed down to 36, which is small enough to easily fit in most car trunks. It’s hard to use one-handed, but that’s a pretty minor flaw for such a superior scraper.

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $23.
With features that closely resemble the Crossover Snow Broom, this is a fine backup option—but its center of gravity is slightly unbalanced, which makes it more tiresome to use.

But if you can’t find the Crossover Snow Broom, we like the $25 Dart as a runner-up. It’s almost identical to the Crossover Snow Broom, but it has a fully padded handle and a removable ice scraper. The Dart is a capable, comfortable, effective tool for removing snow and ice. However, it’s bottom-heavy, with most of its weight in the brush/squeegee end, so holding it up for a long ice-scraping job is harder to do than with the Crossover Snow Broom. The shaft is also straight and the scraping head isn’t angled, so it’s not as easy to keep in the right position for the most effective ice scraping.

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $7.
This tool has the same fantastic blade as our main pick, but it lacks the handle—a tradeoff that gives you easy storage but sacrifices useful leverage.

There are times when you need something even more compact, though. Drivers of sub-sub-compact cars or all-weather tricycles might want to opt for the glove box-size $4 Hopkins Sub Zero 14012 Avalanche Ice Scraper. It has the same tough scraper blade as our main pick, it just lacks its long handle. This smaller tool is cheap and easy to store—and it’d be perfect for clearing the side windows when you’re parked in a tight space—but losing the handle’s leverage means you’ll have to do a lot more work to free the car’s bigger windows of ice.

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.
If you drive a large, wide-bodied vehicle like a minivan, truck, Humvee, or Lamborghini Aventador, you or your butler will want a Blizzerator to reach across the vast expanse of windshield and roof.

At 55 inches fully extended, the $15 Blizzerator was one of the biggest tools we tested, and with an average time of 3 minutes, 25 seconds to clear off the ice, it was also among the fastest. So why isn’t it our main pick? Its large size is actually too big for some users, and the adjustable handle doesn’t click into position as securely as the handle on the Crossover Snow Broom. You can remove the scraper blade, which is useful if you need a compact tool—but the detached scraper exposes a sharp metal end that’s uncomfortable to hold and can scratch car paint or snag a jacket.

Also Great
This is a great scraper, but it’s very big—on the smallest setting, it’s almost four feet long, and the scraper blade doesn’t detach for use in tight parking spots.

A scraper that’s new to our sample, the $43 Hopkins 80037 Quicklock 60″ Extension scraper with 7-Position Pivoting Snowbrush, is a strong runner-up for larger cars or trucks. It’s actually a little bigger than even the Blizzerator, and it’s arguably a better scraper—but the scraper blade can’t detach. So even if you shrink the tool down to its more compact setting, you’re always stuck using a tool that’s nearly 4 feet long. On top of that, it’s more than double the price of our first pick for large cars. But if you park your truck outdoors and you have plenty of room to swing this tool around, it’ll do the job quite well.

Table of contents

Our pick

The fastest scraper we tested has a strong blade, tough teeth, and a handy broom. Plus, it has better balance and ergonomics than anything else out there.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $18.

The Hopkins 14039 Sub Zero Extendable 50″ Crossover Snow Broom ($19) cleared ice the fastest of any scraper we tested, getting the test windows sparkling clean in an average of 2 minutes, 30 seconds1. Beyond that, it has a combination of features—including strong balance, tough ice-scoring teeth, a well-designed blade, a good head-to-handle angle, sturdy extension settings, a compact storage size, and a handy snow brush—that add up to a tool that’s more complete and better overall than anything else we tested.

First, you use a set of pointed ice-scoring teeth to tear into the thicker parts of the ice.

Hopkins clearly put a lot of thought into what makes an ice scraper clear ice faster, and the Crossover Snow Broom owes its swift performance to this well-thought-out design. First, you use a set of pointed ice-scoring teeth to tear into the thicker parts of the ice. Then, the sharp scraper blade digs into the scored channels to remove the broken ice rapidly. Built-in wiper notches allow you to get up close and personal with window stripping and wipers, letting you clear pesky edges with ease. (Although the underside of the blade bears the warning “Do not use scraper on painted surfaces,” we couldn’t get it to penetrate car paint.)

The tool feels easier to use than others in our test due to its balanced center of gravity. The head is offset at 20 degrees from the handle, which is a good angle for slipping the blade under the ice. The shaft is slightly bowed, which makes the task of scraping feel easier. The long handle allows for good leverage, while the cushioned grip just below the head gives you a secure place to grab and guide the scraper.

The extendable handle is also well designed. It doesn’t slip or turn, and the adjuster button works well down to at least 5ºF (-15ºC). In its collapsed state, the Crossover Snow Broom is 36 inches long, which is still long enough for an average-size woman to reach across a minivan hood; extended, it reaches 50 inches, enough length for use on all but the biggest and tallest vehicles. That compact setting also fits easily into the trunks of most cars.

From left, the Dart and the Hopkins Crossover.

The Dart and the Hopkins Crossover.

The Snow Broom easily rotates and locks to be either parallel or perpendicular with the handle. While we did not evaluate snow clearance for ice scrapers—not all the tools in the test even have this feature—this pivoting handle allows users to push or pull snow, not just sweep it from side to side. Could be useful.

Feedback on the Crossover Snow Broom was sparse when this review was originally published. At the time, two Amazon reviewers called it an “excellent snow brush” and “the best I’ve ever used.” Some additional reviews on Amazon, added during the late winter of 2014, echo these praises—as of now, the item has an 80% five-star rating out of a grand total of 20. One reviewer, the sole one-star, spent a considerable portion of his life writing a screed against the curve of the handle.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The only real flaw to the Crossover Snow Broom is that it’s difficult to use one-handed. You have to put one hand on the foam padding, and another on the plastic handle below the brush head—otherwise, it’s just too hard to get enough force to effectively scrape ice. Also, fully extended, the tool can feel long and unwieldy (if that’s a problem for you, it works just fine in the shorter setting). Overall, the ergonomics are sound, and this is a small quibble for such an effective tool.

The runner-up

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $23.
With features that closely resemble the Crossover Snow Broom, this is a fine backup option—but its center of gravity is slightly unbalanced, which makes it more tiresome to use.

The $25 Dart Seasonal Products CB99 38-Inch To 62-Inch Telescopic Snow Removal Car Brush with Ice Scraper is more similar than different compared with the Hopkins Crossover Snow Broom—a fact reflected in their nearly identical ice-clearing performance2. If the Hopkins is ever sold out or is selling for more than $25, this is the one to get.

The Dart (left) and Hopkins (right) performed identically scraping ice with their plastic teeth.

The Dart (left) and Hopkins (right) performed identically, scraping ice with their plastic teeth.

It’s about the same length in its compact form—38 inches (97 cm) versus 36 inches (91 cm) for the Hopkins model), although it extends farther than the Hopkins scraper by 12 inches. They have similarly shaped scraping heads with ice-scraping teeth that are about the same size and shape, and they took roughly the same amount of time to scrape the sample windows. They’re almost the same shade of fashionable royal blue.

The heads of the Dart (left) and Hopkins (right) ice scrapers.

The heads of the Dart (left) and Hopkins (right) ice scrapers.

Both scrapers also have padded handles—but the Dart has padding along the entire outer handle, allowing a variety of hand positions, while the Hopkins brush is padded for only a hand width near the scraper and brush heads.

Both feature rotating brush heads at the end opposite the scraper. The Dart’s can pivot to four positions (straight, perpendicular, and two 45-degree angles on either side of the pole), while the Hopkins’ brush has only two positions. The Dart also has a squeegee on the back side of its brush.

One big difference: The Dart’s ice scraper is removable, while the Hopkins’ scraper is not. This is useful for clearing small windows and side mirrors, but for windshields and rear windows, you really need the handle attached for the tools to work most effectively. Unfortunately, the toggle buttons that hold the Dart’s ice scraper onto the sample can shift and get stuck under the main pole when it’s cold, as I discovered while confirming that the scraper can be removed.

Amazon reviewers praise the Dart for being “heavy duty,” “durable,” and “rugged,” and for having an easy-to-use latching telescoping handle.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

So why, then, if the Dart is the same or slightly better than the Hopkins in so many ways, is it not our first pick? For one simple reason: It feels like more work because of the way you have to use it.

The Dart’s handle is straight, not curved like the Hopkins’ brush. That makes it harder to keep the scraper head angled so it’s in the best position for scraping. But it isn’t just the angle—the Dart is bottom heavy, and most of its mass is concentrated in the brush/squeegee end, making it harder to hold up for scraping ice. By contrast, the Hopkins’ brush end isn’t much heavier than the scraper end, and its center of balance is roughly in the middle. We were surprised to weigh them and discover that both scrapers were roughly 22 ounces (624 grams)—yet the balance and angle issues in the Dart add up to a tool that feels heavier and is just more tiring to use.

This may not sound that important for an object that weighs less than 2 pounds (1 kilo). But remember how much time you spend hoisting an ice scraper to chest level and above. It’s much harder when you have a weighted handle dragging your arms down. The ice scraper can be removed from the handle, eliminating the heft—but then you can’t use the handle’s leverage to break up ice and scrape it away.

If you’re confident of your upper body strength, you could be happy with the Dart. If you’d rather save your strength for hoisting your iPhone, turn to the Hopkins Crossover instead.

Our pick for smaller cars

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $7.
This tool has the same fantastic blade as our main pick, but it lacks the handle—a tradeoff that gives you easy storage but sacrifices useful leverage.

If you drive a small car, and you’d prefer to fill your passenger seats with people, groceries, or personal grooming accessories instead of 3-foot-long sticks, opt for the $4 Hopkins Sub Zero 14013 Avalanche Ice Scraper.

It’s the same ice scraper as our top pick, minus the handle and the snow broom. It has the same sharp blade with ice-crunching teeth and a padded handle, the same side wiper notches, and the same superfluous “Do not use scraper on painted surfaces” warning. It’s just shorter and lighter—only 11 inches, and 3.2 ounces! But losing that handle costs you leverage, so it will take slightly longer to clear your windows using this scraper than if you use the Crossover Snow Broom.

Our 2014 testing, on a large rear window, measured 4 minutes for the Avalanche versus the Hopkins Snow Broom’s 3 minutes, 10 seconds. It also clocked a slow time in this year’s testing, on a slightly smaller rear window. On little side windows and mirrors, its compact size would be more of an advantage than a drawback. And, even if it takes you a while to do the whole car, at least you’ll have plenty of room to sit inside it once you’re finished.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Unsurprisingly, it’s much harder to scrape ice off a windshield or large window when you don’t have a long handle to use for leverage. The blade is excellent, but you’ll only have your own brute strength to power your scraping. It’s a good thing you have such a small car.

Our pick for large cars

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.
If you drive a large, wide-bodied vehicle like a minivan, truck, Humvee, or Lamborghini Aventador, you or your butler will want a Blizzerator to reach across the vast expanse of windshield and roof.

If you own a truck, SUV, or minivan, or if you just always wanted a snow-removal tool that looks like a medieval polearm, you will desire The Blizzerator ($15) until you make it your own. It performed almost as well as the Hopkins, but ultimately, the Hopkins’ superior handle design and compact size make it the better pick for most people.

You might be able to stuff it into your Smart car, but only if you chop off the tops of your knees.

This massive ice-eating monster is 44 inches (112 cm) in its most compact form, and weighs in at 2 pounds (0.9 kg). Fully extended, it’s more than 55 inches (140 cm). You might be able to stuff it into your Smart car, but only if you chop off the tops of your knees.

The Blizzerator had one of the fastest window-ice clearing times in my sample (an average of 3 minutes, 20 seconds), thanks to the excellent angle of its ice scraper to its pole. The Blizzerator’s ice scraper can be removed from the Blizzerhandle, but transforming the Blizzerscraper into Mini-Me can be a mistake for two reasons. First, as an Amazon reviewer notes, “Removing the scraper leaves an exposed … [metal] tube end that could scratch you or a car’s finish.” Second, the long handle gives you a lot of leverage to score and break up the ice, but if you detach it you’re relying on your own arm strength, and it’s a lot more work.

The scraper is quite sharp and features deep ice-scoring teeth. Be careful, though. As one Amazon reviewer puts it, “When using the brush or squeegee, careful of the scraper. It’s fairly sharp on the leading edge and could catch a coat and tear it as you move the Blizzerator back and forth.”

The Blizzerator’s snow brush end comes with a slide-off squeegee brush cover for snow perfectionists, and an attached brush that can swivel 90 degrees to sweep snow off the roof of your car. The swivel is important; it’s much easier to clear snow from high places by pushing or pulling it instead of sweeping from side to side.

The Blizzerator got a Popular Mechanics Editor’s Choice Award for Top Car Tech of SEMA 2013, and Fox’s Car Czar Doug Brauner appreciates the Blizzerator’s hugeness in this video. The Blizzerator is also popular with Canadians, gaining praise from the Halifax Chronicle and a Quebec City writer who gushes about Canadian winters.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The Blizzerator’s biggest flaw is its extension system. During testing in temperatures of 5ºF/-15ºC, the clicking, rocking lever switch that locks the extension handle was stiff. That stiffness made it hard to tell if the button was over the hole to lock the handle (especially when wearing thick gloves). Plus, the Blizzerator’s round extension shaft allows the handle adjustment button to rotate around the shaft and get off-kilter from the extension’s notches. Other extendable models, like our first pick, the Crossover Snow Broom, have flattened oval handles, a design element that eliminates this problem.

Beyond that, it’s slightly bigger and heavier than our main pick—the size can be unwieldy and tiring for some users, especially for shorter people reaching up to clear off a big truck’s windshield.

Our runner-up for large cars

Also Great
This is a great scraper, but it’s very big—on the smallest setting, it’s almost four feet long, and the scraper blade doesn’t detach for use in tight parking spots.

The Hopkins 80037 Quicklock 60″ Extension scraper with 7-Position Pivoting Snowbrush ($45) was a new find for the 2015 update. This is, in some ways, a better choice for large cars and SUVs than the Blizzerator, much as it pains us to criticize such a noble weapon of snow removal.

Both the Blizzerator and this Hopkins model have a scraper on one end of the pole, with a rotatable combination brush and squeegee head on the other end. The Hopkins scraper extends farther than the Blizzerator (60 inches versus 55¾), it’s lighter (8 ounces versus 2 pounds), and the toggle lever for extending the brush head works better. And unlike the Blizzerator’s nebulous extension system, it’s very clear when the Hopkins scraper’s shaft is in the right spot to lock in place, because the lever automatically pivots and locks with a generous THUNK. There’s a very slight angle between the scraper head and the pole, but it’s not as steep as the ideal one on the Crossover.

It took me just a cool 2 minutes to scrape down the window of the 2015 test car with this model (read How we tested to learn why this time is so much shorter than the 2014 times).

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The main reason I would not recommend the Hopkins 60” above the Blizzerator is that the scraper end doesn’t detach for separate use. This tool collapses to be shorter than 60 inches—but not by much. On its short setting, it’s still almost 4 feet long (45.8 inches, by our measurements.). If you are going to have only one scraper in the car, you might want to be able to de-ice your side windows without having to grapple with such a beast. In a tight parking lot, the length could make the tool impossible to use. The other reason is price—with the Blizzerator available for just $15 now, it’s hard to say this $45 tool is worth more than twice the price.

How we picked

An ice scraper clears car windshields, mirrors, headlights, and taillights from several types of ice: the daily frost that builds up on windshields when there’s a temperature drop after sundown, the thin ice that develops on warm cars under a light snow, and the thick gobs of frozen water that build up during a frozen rain or sleet storm.

This ability—not scratching up your windshield and headlight housing—is the sole reason there’s a market for ice scrapers at all, and why we’re all not using old rusty metal putty knives.

There is one major function that an ice scraper must serve: It needs to get the ice off glass and plastic surfaces without scratching it all up. This ability—not scratching up your windshield and headlight housing—is the sole reason there’s a market for ice scrapers at all, and why we’re all not using old rusty metal putty knives. People do use an astonishing number of other devices to get ice off their cars, though: We’ve seen CD cases, credit cards, Hot Wheel Ferraris, and pretty much anything else on hand that’s stiff and softer than window glass. And when I asked Cee Veth, gold-level salesman at Atamian Honda in snowy Lowell, Massachusetts, how he clears ice off the cars in his lot, he said, “We run the defroster.” (Veth swears by the Shuttsco Sno Rake for clearing heavy snow.)

But you can do better than running the defroster or ruining a credit card. When it comes to ice scraper technical innovations, we found the best scrapers have a few key features. You’ll want a tool with plastic teeth for scoring and breaking the ice before scraping, which really helps speed the job along. Look for an extendable handle, which can make them shrink down for easy storage or extend to give you leverage when you’re digging in. Some ice scrapers have multiple plastic edges so you can scrape in more than one direction or reach into tight corners around window borders or up against wipers. An additional snow broom on the opposite end is a nice touch. And the best tools are well balanced, easy to use, and offer plenty of ice-digging leverage.

There is one other aspect of ice scrapers that can strongly affect their performance—the angle of the attachment between the scraper and the handle. Conventional scrapers are straight, with the scraper head aligned with the handle. That angle works perfectly if you’re actually standing in the middle of the windshield holding your arm out straight, like some refugee from the Philadelphia experiment. But the trick, which the best scrapers we tested made easy, is to hold the scraper at the angle that gets the blade under the ice with the maximum possible force. You want a roughly 20-degree angle between the back of the blade and the line of the handle.

We used this criteria to narrow the field down to our strongest contenders. Arriving at this final list of tools to test wasn’t easy, because when we began this research, we found next to nothing written on ice scrapers. Although there are plenty of crowd-sourced discussions about ice scrapers, and a few reviews of individual scrapers, we could not find a single article that compared the performance of different ice scrapers head-to-head. A few scrapers—the CJ Industries F101 Fantastic Scraper, the IceDozer—were mentioned multiple times, but were never in the same place at the same time. It was like trying to sit your roommates Clark Kent and Superman down for a chat about who’s leaving dirty dishes in the sink.

Furthermore, there are no “experts” on ice scrapers. They aren’t big-ticket items, and they are neglected by professional auto writers. Although thousands of people have to remove ice from their cars every day, no one has taken the time to sit down and think about the best way to remove ice … until now.

We gathered the names of the ice scrapers most frequently mentioned by posters on The SweetHome, Jalopnik, Autogeek, Popular Mechanics, and Popular Science; more conventional car publications such as Road and Track did not offer ice-scraper advice in reviews or discussion forums. We also added in the ice scrapers from the top 10 Amazon.com models that did not make it into any other forums.

We ended up with 18 ice scrapers: four telescoping-handle plastic scrapers, six scrapers on non-adjustable long handles, seven small hand-held scrapers, and a plastic blade attached to a mitt. They ranged from the $6 CJ Industries F101 Fantastic Ice Scraper, which was just a plastic handle with a piece of brass wedged in the head, to the $25 Blizzerator, a massive black ice weapon with built-in snow brush and squeegee, and a telescoping handle that expands to 56 inches. Most ice scrapers cost less than $10, and you’d be hard-pressed to spend more than $25 on an ice scraper—our runner-up for larger cars, currently about $45, is decidedly high-end for a category in which the $6 thing is one of the highest-rated ice scrapers on Amazon.

The question is, do any commercial scrapers work better than the Justin Bieber Unchained! disc that your ex-girlfriend left in your car stereo the night she took off with the fried-dough guy? Are they effective? Are they fast? Are the telescoping handles strong, or do they collapse under pressure? Basically, do they make it easy to scrape ice?

How we tested

There was really only one way to test an ice scraper: scrape ice.

Scraping with the teeth side first. Pictured: Mallory 26" Snow Brush with Foam Grip.

Scraping with the teeth side first with the Mallory 26″ Snow Brush with Foam Grip.

On two successive clear days of the Great Polar Vortex of 2014, when the ambient outdoor temperature was 5 to 12ºF (-15 to -11ºC), we iced up several windows of a 2004 Toyota Sienna using a spray bottle filled with water, and timed how long it took to use each scraper while wearing thick winter gloves.

Spraying the frigid car window to make ice.

Spraying the frigid car window to make ice.

Then, in January of 2015, we repeated our tests on a new vehicle, a 2014 Subaru Forester, trying the best scrapers from last season against this year’s new models on a day when the temperature ranged from -3 to 5ºF (-19 to -15ºC). The tools we tested in both years took different amounts of time on the different windows, but the winner was consistently the fastest. For the group we tested in both years, we averaged the test times between the two cars to get roughly consistent results.

But we should be clear that a lot of factors beyond scraping time helped us make our picks—it’s not a strictly scientific measurement, as your own strength, fatigue, and the weather conditions will all affect the tools’ speed. Really, it came down to which ones were the easiest to use and the most capable and convenient, and which had the best combinations of the most important features.

To begin the test, we stored the scrapers overnight in an unheated garage, and then took them outside to see how well they performed on a single swipe to the vehicles’ windshields, and how quickly they cleared the rear windows. On the 2014 vehicle, one of two angled, curved rear windows measured 750 square inches (4,840 sq cm). On the 2015 vehicle, the rear window measured 486 square inches. The rear windows were chosen because they have a large enough area that differences in scraping speed would be obvious, but not so large that the tester would become exhausted. Also, if one or more of these scrapers did scrape up that particular window (as some reviewers claim happens with the CJ Industries Fantastic) no one would be upset that Junior’s’ view out of the back seat would be slightly marred (except for Junior).

The windows were iced with a typical household water sprayer bought at a local hardware store. For each test, the windows were sprayed three times in varying linear and spiral patterns over the entire surface with the sprayer held 6 inches from the glass. The spray was allowed to freeze between spraying, and in both years of testing, the weather was awful enough that it took less than a minute for each of the three layers of ice to form. The ice layer was roughly equivalent to a very heavy frost, or a light freezing rain. The windshield was sprayed twice at the beginning of testing for the single-stroke tests. The vehicles were parked in the shade throughout testing so the sun’s heat would not warm the windows from the inside. Between tests, I sprayed the windows to reform ice, then went inside to type in results and wait for my fingers to turn pink again.

We evaluated the scraper blades based on a few observations of the quality of their scraping—whether the entire blade contacted the window, whether it made a clear or streaky path, and how wide the scraping path was. We also considered their reach, ease of use, and ergonomics, along with the time it took to scrape the minivan window.

A few observations from the testing: None of the flat-bladed scrapers made particularly good contact with the curved windshield. Most of them  could clear a path only 2 inches wide, no matter how wide the blade was; several scraped only streaky, stripe-riddled stutter paths through the ice.

06icescraper

We could also reach to the center of the minivan windshield with every scraper, down to the petite 8½-inch (22-cm) CJ Industries Fantastic scraper. Although some ice scrapers are designed to have flexible blades (chiefly the IceDozer Classic,) in our testing, none of them could scrape a straight, open path through windshield ice the full width of the blade.

All five of the ice scrapers that cleaned the bigger rear window in 4 minutes or less had substantial ice-scoring teeth.

All five of the ice scrapers that cleaned the bigger rear window in four minutes or less had substantial ice-scoring teeth. The technique is to scrape down hard with the teeth, making cracks and breaks in the ice, then use the scraper blade to get under the ice through the cracks and shove it off the windshield. It’s much easier than trying to remove it all in one big sheet.

Windshield-wiper notches on the scraper blades turned out to be surprisingly helpful for clearing the last stubborn bits of ice from the bottom edge of the window—the sort of ice that you try to ignore, but looks painfully bright if you drive towards the sun in the morning. The notches can be shoved right up next to the window stripping, clearing the underlying window fast. You’d think this would be possible with the conventional flat scrapers as well, but the notch-edge scrapers seemed to have an edge, so to speak.

The competition

We tested four new models for this update: the Iceplane Twin Bladed Car Ice Scraper, the Snow Joe Edge Ice Scraper with Brass Blade, the Mallory Pink Snow Tools 31″ Snow Brush, and the Hopkins 80037 Quicklock 60″ Extension scraper with 7-Position Pivoting Snowbrush and Snowbroom (which became our new runner-up pick for large cars). Here’s how the other three fared:

The Iceplane ($9 plus $4 shipping) is a variation on the credit card school of ice scraping. It’s two medium-thick plastic blades attached along the long axis of a rod to form a V-shape, like an open book. You shove the Iceplane into ice, and if you hit it right, the blade will slip under and push a chunk off. It’s more comfortable to use the Iceplane than a credit card, thanks to the nice round handle, but it’s almost as slow; it took me nearly five minutes to clear a window. The Iceplane lacks the ice-scoring spikes that make the best scrapers work so quickly. It can be very meditative to stand out in the cold going scritch, scritch, scritch on your windshield. If that’s how you want to spend your hours in this waking dream we call life, go right ahead. But if you want to get to work on time in the morning, get a different scraper.

The Snow Joe Edge Ice Scraper with Brass Blade ($5) is just like the little brass scrapers they give away for free at banks with branches in the frozen tundra, like the Caribou Credit Union, only it’s bigger! It’s 12½ inches long and 5 inches wide! And with it, clearing ice off your car window will still take forever because the Snow Joe Edge doesn’t have ice-scraper spikes to break up the ice into smaller chunks—3 minutes in the 2015 testing, versus just 2 minutes for the Hopkins Crossover Snow Broom. Sometimes, size doesn’t matter.

The Mallory Pink Snow Tools 31″ Snow Brush ($10, 9.6 oz) is either a slightly shorter, lighter version of the  Mallory USA 999CT 35-Inch Aluminum Snow Brush ($14, 14.4 oz), or a longer, heavier version of the Mallory 518 16″ SnoWEEvel Snow Brush ($6, 5.6 oz), depending on how you look at things. It will scrape your windows fast, because it has the same type of effective scraper head as the 35” and 16” versions, but it isn’t distinctive. It’s not as compact as the 16” brush, and it can’t reach as far as the 35” brush, although it does share the 35” model’s foam handle, which makes it a little less slippery than the all-plastic 16” version. At this 31-inch length, it’s too long to fit in the glove compartment, but too short to reach the middle of the roof of your car and get the snow off. What’s the point?

Well, there is one selling point: the color. As one Amazon reviewer wrote, “My husband will not steal it because its PINK!” If your husband is so insecure in his masculinity that a mere tint on an ice scraper will deter him from petty theft, by all means, buy it. Mallory will also donate 10% of its sales of this pink product to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, for what that’s worth (and that’s worth $1).

In our original 2014 testing, two ice scrapers performed nearly as well as the top three picks. The $6 Mallory 518 16″ SnoWEEvel Snow Brush cleared the window fast with its sharp blade and biting teeth, but its smooth plastic handle was slippery and hard to grip. Still, its blade did a better job of making a clear, wide path on the windshield than any other scraper—about 2 inches (5 cm) wide, or slightly less than two-thirds of the 3-inch-wide (9-cm) blade. The Mallory, measuring 16 inches (41 cm) end to end, was the most compact model we tested that also featured a snow brush. Still, the slippery handle made it annoying and potentially hazardous if it flies out of your hand while scraping. Consider this scraper only if you never wear gloves or mittens; otherwise, pay the extra buck for the Avalanche.

The Innovation Factory IceDozer Classic 2.0 Ice Scraper also did a splendid job of dispensing with ice—with it, we cleared the window in just 3 minutes, 45 seconds. It all would have gone faster, though, if we could have used this tool’s large ice-scoring teeth. The IceDozer Classic has two sets of ice-scoring teeth; one batch that is less than half as tall as the set on the Hopkins, and one set that sits in line with a kind of plastic wall that makes it impossible to use their full height for attacking window ice. The IceDozer Classic comes with helpful instructions about how to hold and move it to deal with thin, medium, and thick ice, and its fluted plastic handles were well located and easy to grip, all of which makes up somewhat for the fact that the black scraping blade isn’t particularly sharp, and the gray “Frost Peeler” blade doesn’t slide under the ice and pry it up like typical scrapers: It pushes ice away. Because you push the ice instead of prying it, the IceDozer Classic is virtually impossible to use one-handed; you just can’t get enough force behind it. Still, we didn’t find it as effective as other scrapers that had larger, more accessible teeth. Let’s hope that Innovation Factory redesigns the IceDozer Classic’s ice teeth to work as well as its handles.

With all of the remaining ice scrapers we tested, it took us at least 4 minutes to clear the car window; with some, the task took significantly more time.

The Hopkins Power Series 18520 26” Snowbrush has “the industry’s first duo-sided scraper blade,” but it doesn’t seem to have the industry’s first *sharp* duo-sided scraper blade. Intended for people who don’t want to walk all the way around their car to scrape ice from the opposite side, it isn’t particularly impressive. With no ice-scoring teeth available, we ended up just hacking at the ice with the corners of the duo-sided scraper, which led us to spend a whole minute longer cleaning the side window than we would have using the Hopkins Crossover Snowbroom. Why bother?

Many of the Amazon reviewers ranking the Mallory USA 999CT 35-Inch Aluminum Snow Brush call it “solid,” “hefty,” and “hardcore.” We simply found it “slower than we’d like.” (It took us 4 minutes, 30 seconds to clear the window.) The ice-scoring teeth are shorter than the Hopkins’s standards, making it harder to cut through ice and remove it. This shortcoming may change one day, as Hopkins bought out Mallory in August 2013. For now, stick with the Hopkins Crossover Snowbroom.

The Hopkins 13014 Ice Chisel 10″ Scraper has a certain charm—big ice-gouging teeth, a padded grip—but the blade isn’t quite as sharp as the Avalanche’s and showed visible wear after testing (the corners looked like they’d been chewed.) At 10 inches (26 cm), it’s one of the most compact scrapers we tested, but it just didn’t work as well as the Avalanche, and with it we took 4 minutes, 40 seconds to finish the window.

The $4 CJ Industries F101 Fantastic Ice Scraper with Brass Blade, aka the Brass Blade Ice Scraper Black (it also comes in pink and blue if you want to get one for the new baby), is a brass blade with a plastic handle. That’s it. It’s quite effective for sliding under the ice and pushing it off, but it can’t score thicker ice well. Scrape, scrape, scraping to free a window from winter’s icy tentacles with the Fantastic Ice Scraper took 5 minutes, 30 seconds. You can do better. Have I mentioned that brass blades do a fantastic job of scraping paint off cars?

The $20 OXO Good Grips Extendable Twister Snowbrush has a solid handle, a rotatable snow brush, and a sharp blade, but no teeth for scoring thick ice. We managed to cut away a bit by using the scraper corner, but it was slow; clearing the window took almost 6 minutes.

The Scrape-A-Round ($18 for three) looks like an urban legend—the sort of story where you find out something obviously false, like that all your cavities will disappear if you eat a tablespoon of wasabi paste every day. Really, the Scrape-A-Round is a funnel with a detachable prickly top. You can use the prickly top to score the ice, then attempt to push it away with the funnel. This approach may be swift in the Scrape-A-Round’s home town of Sandy, Utah, but it took more than 6½ minutes to scrape down an icy car window in New England. What was really surprising was that it worked at all. Truth to tell, it was kind of fun to hold the edge of the funnel like a steering wheel to smash the ice-spikes into the window … but we’d rather have warm hands. Skip it.

Who can resist THOR!? Well, actually, we can. The $18 Quirky Thor – Automotive Collapsible Double Blade Ice Scraper is a great idea: an extendable ice scraper with multiple blades on a stick, including a fluted rubber handle for putting more force into your swipes. Unfortunately, the ice blade wasn’t as sharp as on other models and let a lot more streaks on each pass than other scrapers. It was also awkward to maneuver the Thor to remove lingering bits of ice from the edges of the window, as we had to keep one hand on the handle close to the blade; we had to keep changing the location. It took almost 7 very cold minutes to clear a window with Thor. But he’s a Norse god, so he’s probably used to freezing.

We also liked the concept of the $12 Innovation Factory IceDozer MINI 2.0 with Brass Blade, which is just over 8 inches (20 cm) long. Look at all those different ice-scraping blades! How exciting! Now look at the handle, a nice low-profile handle that’s handsome, but almost impossible to grip effectively with mittens on if you happen to want to use the brass ice-scraping blade. We could not grip the MINI securely enough with both hands to get good leverage for ice scraping; we ended up wrapping a hand around the IceDozing blade for most of the 8½ minutes it took to clear the window. Don’t bother.

The $17 Ice Master is a set of three brass ice-scraping blades that rotate and fold around a handle, but never seem to end up in a position that allows you to scrape ice effectively. It took 10 minutes and 40 frigid seconds to get the window clear with that thing, 10 minutes and 40 seconds of my life that were far, far colder than I’d ever intended. Learn from my mistakes, and buy a different scraper.

Wrapping it up

The Hopkins 14039 Sub Zero Extendable 50″ Crossover Snow Broom, with its sharp scraper, ice-crushing teeth, and snazzy wiper notches will get ice off your windshield faster than any other scraper we tested. Its adjustable handle extends to 50 inches to get to all the distant corners of your car, the curved shaft and angled head offer some powerful leverage to shove ice away, and collapses down to just 36 inches for easy enough storage. With all the hours you save on scraping, you might find the time to fly to Florida, where you won’t need it at all.

Footnotes:

1. There was a change in testing procedures between 2014 and 2015. Old Yeller, the 2004 Toyota Sienna Minivan that stoically hosted the 2014 testing, had to be put down. It was replaced by a 2014 Subaru Forester. That means that the size of the window testing surface shrank from 750 square inches to roughly 486 square inches (4,839 sq cm versus 3,136 sq cm). Because of the different window size, we re-tested the top 2014 models for this update. The times were different, but the scrapers finished in a consistent order of speed. Our chart data shows the results of the 2015 testing, which featured our winners from the previous year and the four new scrapers we tested for this update. Jump back.

2. The Dart arrived later than all the other models in 2014, so I tested it on a different day. The weather was similar—5ºF and cloudy—but the results were puzzling. We cleared the whole window in 2 minutes 30 seconds, a whole 50 seconds faster than the Hopkins! We then re-tested the Hopkins and freed the window from winter’s sullen grip in 2 minutes, 50 seconds, or 40 seconds faster than the previous day’s scrape. (Blame it on the coffee, or the sheer adrenaline rush of finishing testing, or the muscle mass we built up testing the previous 10 scrapers.) The point is, although the Dart cleared the ice faster than the other models, it wasn’t faster than the Crossover Snow Broom on the same day—and scraping times don’t always make for reliable data. That’s why we weighed so many other factors in addition to what the stopwatch told us. Jump back.

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Sources

  1. What is your favorite ice scraper?, The Sweethome (Kinja), November 25, 2013
  2. Michael Clark, Speak softly and carry a big winter-fighting stick, The Chronicle Herald: Wheels, December 23, 2013
  3. Suzanne Kantra Kirschner & Michael Moyer, Space Age Ice Scraper, Popular Science
  4. Blog, Glass Doctor
  5. What's Your Favorite Ice Scraper?, The Sweethome (Kinja)
  6. Forum, Auto Geek Online

Originally published: January 14, 2015

  • JesseeA

    Any recommendations on a mid-sized design with scraper and brush? I’m looking for something more like this: http://www.amazon.com/Hopkins-Subzero-16511-Hammer-Snowbrush/dp/B000HACYNY/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

  • David Goldhaber-Gordon

    What if you just need to regularly scrape off light frost (in California, not Polar Vortex country)? Are these good solutions?

    • Meg Muckenhoupt

      Pretty much any of the scrapers which took less than five minutes to scrape a window will do the trick. I’d still suggest you get one of the scrapers with an angle between the blade and the handle; they keep your arms from getting fatigued. Padded handles are also nice. The Hopkins SubZero (the Step Down listed above) might be a good pick for you.

  • Dr_Watson

    Hopkins does also make a “middle child” in the SubZero line that’s between the glove-box ice scraper and the gigantic 50″ swivel broom.

    http://www.amazon.com/Subzero-SZ-14026-CrossOver-Super-Duty-Broom/dp/B00G5HJC1U/ref=sr_1_5?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1391637865&sr=1-5

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Great finds. Thanks!

  • taralaska

    Did you try also sweeping snow with any of the brushes? It looks like the guy’s screed about your top pick is focused on it being difficult to use for clearing snow off a vehicle. Maybe that’s not a good option if you’re looking for a tool that deals with ice AND snow equally well…

    • taralaska

      PS. The link to the small scraper doesn’t work anymore, but it looks like it’s still available…. http://www.amazon.com/Hopkins-14014-35-Avalanche-Snowbrush/dp/B003ZFONF0/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

      • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

        That’s actually the 14014 model, not the 14012 model. It appears that the model you linked to is 35 inches and the one we originally linked to was 11 inches-

        14014 – Product Dimensions 35 x 4 x 4 inches

        14012 – Product Dimensions 11 x 4.2 x 1.2 inches

        But thanks!

      • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

        Also, our pick is back in stock now.

  • Little old lady driver

    Your top pick, Hopkins 14039, is also the best snow remover I’ve ever used – driving in the Northeast since 1958, 4’10”, 72 years old. Bought it at Walmart last year & unfortunately left it at a gas station yesterday, just spent the morning on the web searching for a replacement, ordered from eBay instead of Amazon for lower shipping cost. I rarely scrape ice, prefer to heat the car up & let it melt. As to Harry’s long diatribe/negative review on Amazon last year…suffice it to say I disagree, works great for little old me & I wanted that curved handle back.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Glad you’re happy with it!

  • brianjewett

    My biggest concern is how flimsy and poorly designed most of these things are. I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t get frozen so it won’t telescope after getting wet ot that will last more than one season if that long. Do any of these solve these problems?

  • http://victorlombardi.com/ Victor

    Thanks! I live in the Northeast and just discovered telescoping scrapers this season. Even though I’m 6’3″ and have a tiny Fiat 500 it makes a big improvement in my ability to clear all the ice and snow without getting wet.

  • jakeniece

    Good god. I can’t believe someone went so in depth on ice scrapers. I skimmed the article, and I’ll take your word on your pick. Thank you.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      You’re most welcome!