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How to Get Salt Stains Off Your Boots

Winter streets wreak havoc on even the toughest boots. Here's how to bring them back to life.

walking in new york
Ivan McClellanGetty Images

During winter, it can be difficult to defend your favorite footwear agains the elements; snow, yes, but also the salt that cities use to de-slick streets and sidewalks. If you're facing the fluffy stuff right now, surely the salt's coming — it’s only a matter of time.

The blue kind's the worst; not only does it leave the same stains as regular street salts, but it affects an iridescent dye, too. Taking the proper steps to care for your shoes and boots will not only guarantee they last through this winter, but well beyond it, too.

After all, you're asking a lot of them — but rightfully so. Follow these easy steps to get your footwear back in shape.

What You'll Need

      How to Remove Road Salt

      Step #1: Stuff Your Boots

      Soaked shoes can lose their shape easily. The excess moisture makes the leather more pliable and more prone to warping. The best solution is to stuff your shoes with cedar shoe trees as they maintain the shoe’s shape while absorbing excess moisture and fending off offensive odors. If you’re treeless, the next best thing is newspaper.


      Houndsbay Cedar Shoe Tree


      Step #2: Dab Them with This Solution

      Next, remove any salt stains by dabbing the boots with a towel and a solution of one part white vinegar with two parts water. The vinegar helps to break up the salt and lifts it to the surface of the leather.


      BootRescue All Natural Cleaning Wipes


      Step #3: Condition Your Boots

      Though your shoes have just gotten the salt out of their system, they’re still thirsty. They’ve been stripped of vital oils and vitamins in the process and need to be replenished before stepping out again. If you don’t, the leather can dry out and crack (neither of those things are good). Condition them with a leather lotion to restore those essential nutrients which will keep the leather healthy.


      Otter Wax Leather Care Kit (Soap, Wax, Oil, Salve)


      Step #4: Protect Them from Future Problems

      Now that the leather has been fed, the last step is to protect your shoes for their next outing. Leather waxes and leather protectors help provide a barrier against the elements, ensuring that your shoes can make it a few more paces before needing to go this whole routine again. Once you’ve conditioned your shoes with leather lotion, apply a leather wax/protector all around the shoes, making sure to get into the welts and stitching.


      Red Wing Leather Protector


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