Dressing for winter can be tough, especially when it comes to shoes: Wearing your favorite pair of leather or suede boots in snow or slush comes with consequences — water marks and salt stains. The good news is that those pesky white rings are 100 percent fixable. Below, discover the best ways to remove salt stains from boots, including DIY tricks that will cost you nothing.
Stuff Leather Shoes With Newspaper Right Away
The key to treating salt stains is addressing them right away. Before your shoes dry off, lightly dampen them with a sponge and fill them with newspaper to help retain their shape. Avoid placing them near a fireplace or radiator, though, as rapidly drying the shoes can ultimately cause more damage.
Use White Vinegar and Water for Leather Shoes
While you can buy salt stain remover at the drugstore, try mixing two parts water with one parts vinegar for an easy-at-home remedy. Vinegar dissolves into material and lifts salt stains — and when diluted with water is much less pungent. Simply rub the solution onto the exterior of your shoes until the stain disappears.
For Suede Shoes, Use a Brush
With suede shoes, start by brushing them with a soft nylon brush to remove loose dirt, then lightly dab on the solution. Pat dry with a cloth.
To buy: Ralyn Nylon Suede Brush, $6; Amazon.com
Follow Up With a Leather Cream or Conditioner (for Leather Shoes Only)
Salt and vinegar treatments can dry out leather, which can cause cracks and discoloration. To avoid this, apply a leather treatment to your shoes to restore lost moisture. A pigmented cream will help restore color to make shoes look brand-new, while a neutral leather conditioner can be used to keep leather supple — without altering the hue — if you prefer a more worn-in look.
To buy: Ralyn Nylon Suede Brush, $6; Amazon.com.
To buy: Leather Restore Leather Color Repair, $9; Amazon.com.
Finish With a Stain Repellant Spray
To protect shoes from future salt stains, spray them with a water stain repellent (like Kiwi’s Protect All Rain and Stain Repellent that works on both suede and leather). For the best application, lightly spray the repellent 8 to 12 inches away from the shoe twice.
To buy: Kiwi’s Protect All Rain And Stain Repellent, $9; Amazon.com.
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