How to Remove Salt Stains From Shoes: A Step-By-Step Guide

Leah Bourne
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Photo: Stockholm Street Style

Fact: During the winter, 17 million tons of salt is dumped on roads and sidewalks throughout the United States to help melt snow and ice. As if the winter wasn’t already a tough season to dress for, we also have to worry about stains on our shoes caused by stuff that’s supposed to be helping us walk around.

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The good news is that salt stains—those pesky white rings that appear on your shoes after stepping on salty sidewalks—are fully fixable, but you have to act fast when you spot them.

Here, our step-by-step guide for getting rid of salt stains, and saving your amazing shoes this winter!

Step 1:
Spot a salt stain? Immediately stuff your shoes with paper to help them retain their shape.

Step 2:
You can buy a pre-made solution at some shoe repair stores to get rid of salt stains, but you can make an at-home version that’s just effective. Simply combine one part white vinegar, and two parts water.

Step 3:
Dab the solution directly onto the outer corners of the stain, working your way toward the center.

Step 4:
Then, take a dampened clean cloth, and dab the stain to remove the excess vinegar.

Step 5:
Follow up the damp cloth with a dry cloth, dabbing the stain again to remove excess water.

Step 6:
Let your shoes air dry for 24 hours, and then condition or polish them as you normally would.

What type of shoes does this work with? The above method works best on leather, canvas, and other common materials, but—if you can—avoid wearing suede when the streets are slushy.

If you do end up with salt stains on suede shoes (hey, it happens), first brush your suede shoes with a brush, and then dab them with the solution, followed with the dry cloth (skip the wet cloth step). Salt and water stains are a lot easier to get rid of if you treat your shoes before hitting the snowy streets, so spray your shoes with water-repellent coating like Kiwi Protect All Rain And Stain Repellant ($10; available at Amazon.com), which works on both suede and leather.

MORE: 35 Genius Uses For White Vinegar

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