If you live in a snowy area you know there’s more than one form of white stuff that gets on your footwear: knowing how to get salt stains off shoes is almost mandatory if you want your favorite leather or suede boots to look good all season.
Fortunately, it’s easy to do, and you don’t need any special equipment to remove salt stains though there are steps to take afterward to protect your shoes 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 look at your favorite leather shoes or boots as soon as you come indoors and 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.
3. Dab a clean, white cloth with the vinegar water and wipe your boots or shoes with it. Be sure to use a white cloth, so you don’t transfer dyes from the fabric onto your shoes.
4. Repeat as needed until you’ve removed all of the salt residues then allow your boots to air dry. (Heat can cause the leather to crack.) If the boots were wet to begin with, stuff them with newspaper to absorb excess moisture. Replace paper frequently until boots are dry.
5. Protect your boots by rubbing a good leather conditioner, or even a little olive oil, into them. This will help repel moisture next time you’re in the snow and keep the leather supple.
Suede shoes and boots
As with leather, prompt cleaning is the key to preventing permanent damage to your suede shoes and boots or Uggs. 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 3 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 pat or 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. Allow the shoe to air dry away from heat and light. Repeat if needed until the stains are gone.
6. Once the shoe is fully dry, very lightly buff it with a dry washcloth or soft-bristled toothbrush to restore the 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 simple as washing them, but 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 white 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.