If you live in a snowy area, knowing how to get salt stains off shoes is almost mandatory if you want to keep your footwear looking good. Between sidewalk salt and road slush, winter can do a number on your favorite Uggs or boots.
Fortunately, it’s easy to get salt stains off shoes, and you don’t need any special equipment. Once you get them clean, follow the steps below to keep salt from leaving its mark in the future.
How To Get Salt Stains Off Shoes
Leather Shoes and Boots
Just as too much salt in your diet can cause dehydration, salt on your shoes can dry out the leather and cause permanent damage. That’s why it’s important to treat any salt residue promptly.
1. Wipe off as much salt residue as you can with a soft, lightly damp cloth.
2. Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a small bowl. Using a clean cloth, wipe your boots or shoes with this mixture. Be sure to use a white material, so you don’t transfer dyes from the fabric onto your shoes.
3. Repeat as needed until you’ve removed all of the salt residue then allow your boots to air dry. (Heat can cause the leather to crack.) If the shoes were wet to begin with, stuff them with newspaper to absorb excess moisture. Replace the paper frequently until boots are dry.
4. Protect your shoes by rubbing a little olive or coconut oil onto them. Oil helps to repel moisture and keep the leather supple.
Suede Shoes and Boots (like Uggs)
As with leather, quick cleaning is the key to preventing permanent damage to your suede footwear. With suede, however, you don’t want to use vinegar, or you’ll wind up with discoloration. Instead, try this:
1. Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe away as much salt residue as possible.
2. Lightly brush the suede with a toothbrush along the salt lines. Don’t be rough or you may damage the suede texture — use just enough pressure to dislodge any remaining salt.
3. If the stain persists, combine 1 cup COLD water and three drops liquid dish soap in a bowl. Dab the corner of a white cloth with the soapy water and spot test an inconspicuous place on your shoes for colorfastness. (Usually just inside the top edge is a good place.)
4. If the dye doesn’t transfer, go ahead and dab at the stained areas with soapy water until the stain is gone. Don’t rub, or you may lift off dye and ruin the nap of the suede.
5. Dry the shoe away from heat and light. Once dry, check again for stains and repeat the steps above if needed.
6. Very lightly buff with a dry washcloth or soft-bristled toothbrush to restore the suede’s texture.
7. Prevent future stains by applying a suede protector at least once per winter season.
Sneakers, Trainers, or Tennis Shoes
Getting salt off of fabric shoes is as easy as washing them. If you only have one pair and no time to wait for them to dry, there are a couple of quick steps you can take to get rid of salt stains.
1. Use a stiff-bristled brush to dislodge as much salt rime as possible.
2. Combine 1 cup WARM water and 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap in a bowl.
3. Dip a washcloth into the soapy water and lightly rub the salt stains off of your shoes. Don’t saturate the shoe fabric — get it just damp enough to remove the salt residue.
4. Press a dry cloth against the area you just cleaned to absorb excess moisture. Your shoes should be stain-free and dry enough to wear.
5. Protect sneakers or trainers from future salt staining by spraying them with a fabric sealant like Scotchguard the next time you wash them.