How To Get Salt Stains Off Shoes

Clean

Don’t let winter ruin your favorite footwear. Here’s how to get salt stains off shoes, boots, even Uggs.

Woman sitting on stool to roll her jeans over a pair of leather ankle boots

If you live in a snowy area, you’ve probably got a specific pair of shoes you wear while shoveling the sidewalk or driveway. Still, your shoes are likely to develop salt stains from snow melting products used on other sidewalks and in parking lots. Wearing rubber boots helps, but what about the times you forget or get caught unprepared for the weather?

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to get salt stains off your shoes. You don’t need any special equipment. The steps below explain how to do it and protect your shoes from salt stains in the future.

Get Salt Stains Off Leather Shoes and Boots

You will need:

  • An old rag
  • A soft white cloth
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Small bowl
  • Old newspapers or towels
  • Olive or coconut oil

Just as too much sodium in your diet can cause dehydration, salt on your shoes can dry out the leather and cause permanent damage. So, it’s important to treat any salt stains or snow remover residue promptly.

1. Wipe off as much salt residue as you can with an old, damp rag.

2. Combine equal parts of 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 cloth to do this, 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. Put your boots or shoes in an out of the way spot to let them air dry. You don’t want to stick them near a fireplace or heating vent since heat can make leather crack. If they were wet to begin with, stuff them with newspaper to absorb excess moisture. Replace the paper frequently until boots are dry.

4. Once they’re dry, protect your shoes from salt stains by rubbing them with a little olive or coconut oil. A light layer of oil will help keep salt residue off your shoes while protecting the leather from drying out, too.

Waist-down photo of two kids in Uggs snow boots and winter clothes

Get Salt Stains off of Suede Shoes, Boots and Uggs

As with leather, quick cleaning is the key to preventing permanent damage to your suede footwear. However, with suede, you don’t want to use vinegar, or you’ll wind up with discoloration.

You will need:

  • Dry microfiber cloths
  • A soft brush (an old toothbrush is fine)
  • Cold water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Small bowl
  • White, soft cloth
  • Suede Protector

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. Combine 1 cup cold water and three drops of 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 the dye and ruin the nap of the suede.

5. Dry the shoes away in an out of the way spot away from heat and light.

6. Once they’re dry, lightly buff them with a dry cloth or the soft-bristled toothbrush to restore the suede’s texture.

7. Prevent future stains by applying a suede protector at least once per winter season.

Overhead view of feet in blue sneakers standing in the snow.

Get Salt Stains Off of Fabric or Canvas Shoes

You can wash most tennis shoes to get salt stains off of them easily. Fabric or canvas shoes with leather accents shouldn’t go in the wash,t though. So, here are a couple of quick steps you can take to get rid of salt stains on shoes made of fabric or canvas.

You will need:

  • Old toothbrush
  • Warm water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Bowl
  • Clean white cloths
  • Fabric sealant

1. Use the toothbrush 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.

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4 Comments

  1. Interesting read. Snow is not a problem, but I have noticed that after a rain my boots have a white discoloration on them. Do you think it is from “minerals” in the water and that I can do the same treatment?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It could very well be that, Karen. I’d treat the white marks the same way that I’d treat salt stains.

  2. I have tried to remove stains on leather boots…

    Sad to say it didn’t work…..

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m sorry you didn’t have any luck with this, Patsy.

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