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Make DIY ice melt with just 3 common household ingredients

Ice melt test on ice-covered welcome mat
Kaitlin Gates/Simplemost

If you live in an area that gets brutal winters, you surely know all about icy sidewalks and snowy driveways. Chances are you probably turn to the usual fix of shoveling the snow and then putting down some store-bought salt or other ice-melting product.

If you run out of store-bought products or find yourself with some unexpected ice — you know, like when it’s supposed to be spring but winter just won’t go away — we’ve tested another de-icing option for you that only requires a few everyday items you likely already have on hand.

MORE: Why you shouldn’t heat up your car for long in cold winter weather

This simple DIY ice-melting solution calls for three common household ingredients: water, dish soap and rubbing alcohol.

To make the solution, combine 1/2 gallon of hot water, six drops of dish soap and 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol in a large container, like an empty milk carton. Then, simply pour the solution on the icy area that you’re looking to melt.

Kaitlin Gates/Simplemost

After quite a few very abnormal 50-degree days in Michigan, we got another taste of winter, and I was able to put the solution to the test. I first tried it with warm water and it didn’t seem to do much, but once I swapped it out for hot water, some fairly thick ice on my porch melted right away.

Take a look at the before and after images, taken only seconds apart. You can see that the only areas that are now free of ice are where I poured the solution.

Kaitlin Gates/Simplemost

MORE: An onion can help prevent frost buildup on your windshield

I also tried it on another set of icy footprints, this time on my doormat, which shows that it works on multiple surfaces:

Kaitlin Gates/Simplemost

Other suggestions include simply pouring rubbing alcohol on the ice instead of mixing it with soap and hot water, so I tried that on a different spot. That didn’t work at all, so you can skip adding that one to your DIY ice melt list.

It did still work when I mixed rubbing alcohol and hot water, however, so if you don’t have dish soap, you should still get some results.

Why does this trick work? According to home improvement expert Bob Vila, the rubbing alcohol and water combination is effective because rubbing alcohol has a lower freezing point than water, so it speeds up the melting process. Vila says keeping a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle can also be a quick solution if you have a car door that’s frozen shut or a frosted-over windshield. Just be sure not to use hot water if you’re trying this trick on your car, as it can cause the windshield to break.

About the Author
Kaitlin Gates

Kaitlin is a freelance multimedia journalist with a degree in journalism and psychology. Along with Don't Waste Your Money, she also writes for Simplemost, where she covers new product and food launches and overall general news. You can email her at or find her on Facebook at More.