From salt stains to dark scuffs and dried-out leather, your winter boots are likely to take a beating this season. Thankfully, there are some quick remedies to ensure your favorite pairs won’t be ruined. Below, we’ve rounded up six surefire fixes to keep them looking pristine for months.
Remove Salt Stains With White Vinegar and Water
Salt stains, those pesky white rings that occur on shoes after contact with salty sidewalks, are an inevitable side effect of winter. To remove them from leather boots, simply mix one parts water with two parts vinegar and rub it into the shoe’s exterior until the stain disappears. Pat boots with a soft cloth and let them air dry, keeping them away from heat sources that can make leather brittle. For suede boots, start by removing loose dirt with a brush and then lightly dabbing on the solution until the exterior is clean.
To buy: Shack Suede Brush Cleaner, $7; Amazon.com.
Restore Dry Leather With Leather Conditioner
Vinegar tends to dry out leather, so once you’ve removed any stains, you’ll want to follow up with a leather conditioner. This will help revive cracked leather and restore some its original sheen.
To buy: Leather Honey Leather Conditioner, $19; Amazon.com.
Be Cautious With Suede
For all non salt-related stains, skip the wet solution and simply use an eraser (unlike leather, it’s best to keep suede dry as often as possible so it doesn’t lose its texture). If the nap of the suede is flattened, rub a clean toothbrush or terry cloth vigorously over the exterior.
Banish Odor With Essential Oils
Thanks to everyday mileage, it’s no secret your feet can get sweaty inside boots and cause them to smell. To neutralize odors, pour a teaspoon of baking soda into boots and let it sit overnight. Once this is done, pour out the baking soda and follow up with a few drops of essential oils for an especially fresh scent.
To buy: Plant Therapy Organic Lavendar Oil, $17; Amazon.com.
Erase Scuffs With Baking Soda
You’ll want to have a light touch when trying to erase ugly black marks from leather shoes. Simply dip a soft cloth in water, then baking soda, and gently rub the cloth on the shoes. If you’re dealing with rubber boots, use a stronger treatment of kitchen scouring powder to get them spotless. Once the shoes are clean, wipe them off with a damp cloth and buff dry.
To buy: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, $4; Amazon.com.
Prevent Future Damage With a Water-Repellent Spray
Next time, save yourself the hassle of combating weather-related stains by prepping your boots with a water-repellent coating. This should be applied directly after cleaning. For salt stains in particular, remember to act fast as soon as you’re indoors. Before your shoes dry off, lightly dampen them with a wet sponge and fill them with newspaper to help them retain their shape.
To buy: Kiwi’s Protect All Rain And Stain Repellent, $9; Amazon.com.
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