How to Safely Shovel Snow on Stairs (6 Easy Tips)

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Shoveling snow is no one’s idea of a perfect morning, as it can be a tedious and messy task. You are also likely to get really cold or even slip and fall in the process. Nevertheless, you have to get the snow off your steps if you’re going to leave your house. 

Here’s how to shovel snow on stairs: 

  1. Get an ideal shovel and wear protective clothing. 
  2. Set a schedule. 
  3. Exercise caution. 
  4. Watch where you put the snow. 
  5. Use de-icers. 
  6. Use creative shovel alternatives. 

This article explores the dos and don’ts of dealing with snow on stairs. Keep reading to learn expert snow shoveling tips. 

1. Get an Ideal Shovel and Wear Protective Clothing

Before shoveling the snow, you need to have all the necessary tools. Here’s what you need: 

  • Shovel: Since you’re shoveling the snow, it’s only fitting to get a good shovel. An ideal shovel should have an aluminum blade and a nonstick finish. Shovels made of light plastic might not be sturdy enough to shovel huge layers of snow. 
  • Proper clothing: The last thing you need when shoveling snow is to get frostbite. Therefore, you should protect yourself with mittens, heavy clothing, and snow boots. 
  • Drink a hot beverage: It’s also important to drink a hot beverage before going outside to shovel snow from your stairs. Then, if it gets too cold, go back indoors and wait for the snowing to end. 

2. Set a Schedule

Most people wait for the snowing to stop before getting out to start shoveling. However, if it snows for too long, you’ll find a giant pile of snow on your stairs. Not only is this hard to shovel, but it will also take you a long time. 

You should set a schedule to shovel the snow from your steps after every few hours, even if it’s still snowing. That way, the snow will not pile up and make shoveling it a nightmare. 

3. Exercise Caution

Working on snow can be dangerous. You might slip and fall, or strain your back or knees. It’s therefore important to shovel correctly to avoid hurting yourself. 

Here are a few tips and tricks on how to shovel snow on stairs safely: 

  • Shovel a little snow at a time: Try not to overload the shovel and work with manageable amounts of snow. 
  • Push the snow, don’t lift: You should always push the snow instead of lifting it whenever possible. That way, you won’t feel the weight of the snow as much. In addition, make sure your shovel is long enough to avoid bending too much and throwing out your back. 
  • Wear socks: Another neat trick you can use is wearing thick socks over your shoes. This increases your traction and reduces the chances of slipping and hurting yourself. In addition, it helps keep your feet warm as you work in freezing conditions. 
  • Take breaks: Take plenty of breaks and don’t overwork yourself. If you don’t have to leave the house immediately, shovel the snow in the intervals you set in the schedule while going back indoors for warmth. 

4. Watch Where You Put the Snow

While it’s easy to shovel the snow into the street or just whip it into your neighbor’s front yard, it’s not respectful. Moreover, shoveling the snow into the streets can be dangerous for motorists and pedestrians. 

It’s best to shovel from your stairs to your front yard since you’re unlikely to use it amid a snowy winter. You should also take care not to block drains with the snow. 

If possible, plan before the winter where you will store your snow. 

5. Use De-Icers

It’s common to find a hard block of ice underneath multiple layers of snow while shoveling. The fastest remedy to this problem is using a chemical de-icer. However, not all de-icers are suitable for every situation. 

Wooden stairs, in particular, are sensitive to work with, so you need to know what de-icers to use on them. 

Don’t Use Salt and Vinegar on Wooden Steps

Table salt is the most readily available de-icer in most homes. However, it’s not safe to use on wooden stairs because salt dries the wood, accelerating its aging and wearing. Common salt is slow to melt ice and stops working at 15°F (-9.4°C).

Similarly, vinegar is unsuitable for wooden steps because it corrodes and damages the wood. It also freezes at 28°F (-2.2°C), about two degrees lower than the freezing point of water. Therefore, vinegar will most likely freeze and add another layer of ice to your steps. 

Try Magnesium Chloride

Unlike salt and vinegar, magnesium chloride is gentle on wooden stairs. It is a non-corrosive chemical that is also safe for pets. It works quickly and melts ice twice as fast as rock salt. However, if you have concrete steps, you can use magnesium carbonate instead, as this works even better than magnesium chloride.

6. Use Creative Shovel Alternatives

If you don’t have a shovel, you can still DIY your way through the problem. Here are a few creative shovel alternatives to use for your stairs: 

  • Get plastic tarps: Try placing a plastic tarp over the stairs before it starts snowing. That way, when it stops snowing, you can just pull the tarp to expose a clear staircase. This means you should always prepare your stairs for snow. If you live in a region with snowy winters, preparing yourself can make shoveling easier. 
  • Install stair treads: Stair treads go on top of your stairs and prevent a block of ice from forming. They also increase the traction and reduce the chances of slipping while shoveling the snow. Stair treads like the FINEHOUS Stair Treads on are easy to install and are compatible with multiple surfaces, including wood.
  • Use snow melts: Snow melting mats like the HeatTrak HR10-30 Residential Stair Mat (also on is another great addition you can install on your stairs to make shoveling easier. They just sit on your steps and melt the snow away. Most will melt up to 2” (5 cm) of snow every hour, which means you don’t have to shovel unless there’s a serious snowstorm. 

In Conclusion

Shoveling snow from stairs can be a boring and cumbersome task. However, you have to do it to keep your steps clear and safe. Here are some tips and tricks to make it more bearable: 

  • Get an ideal shovel and wear protective clothing. 
  • Set a schedule. 
  • Exercise caution.  
  • Watch where you put the snow. 
  • Use de-icers. 
  • Use creative shovel alternatives.

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