how to: remove salt stains from boots

high plains thrifter // how to remove salt stains from boots

By the time mid-February rolls around, my relationship with winter hits a wall. From daily traffic battles on ice-slicked highways to cutting winds that spring tears to my eyes to sky-high heating bills, I’m just so over it all. Including, if not especially, my entire winter wardrobe. But since there are at least a few more weeks* of boot- (and wool-) wearing weather ahead, I must resolve to get through the tail-end of winter as stylishly as possible. First up on my to-do list? Cleaning my trusty, wear-with-everything, thrifted cowboy boots, which were, up until yesterday, marred with salty stains.

salt stain close-upIn need of some tips on how to give salt stains the slip, I turned to Google, and found posts galore on removing salt from both suede and leather boots. I mashed up advice from two posts (this one from the Free People blog and this one from 11 and Chic), and am stoked on the results. Here’s how I did it!

First up, I gathered up the necessary supplies, all of which I had on hand. (Which made me feel worse about not tackling this task last winter!)

high plains thrifter // salt stain removal suppliesI started off by giving my boots an all-over brushing, removing any gritty bits of salt and sand wedged in the stitching or soles. (The tutorials I read called for a shoe brush, but a spare nail brush I had worked just fine.)

high plains thrifter // how to remove salt stainsIn a small pitcher, I mixed a 1/4 cup of vinegar with a 1/4 cup of water. Dampening the rag with the vinegar mixture, I dabbed over all the areas stained by the salt, hitting the especially heavy stains a few times, just to make sure they were completely covered.

high plains thrifter // how to remove salt stainsWhen I finished that step, they looked like this. And when I left them to dry, I felt a little more than a little skeptical that this was going to work.

high plains thrifter // drying bootsAfter running a few errands, I came back to find dry boots. Using another clean rag, I buffed them up, using a quarter-sized dollop of leather conditioner at a time. And the results? Fabulous! Yes, my poor boots still bear a few lingering signs of water damage, but given their age and the multiple winters’ worth of abuse they’ve sustained, I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out!

finished boots2

Tammy Crackers is curious about where the salt stains went.

high plains thrifter // finished bootsDo you have any tricks for keeping your winter boots looking better? If so, let me know!



*please let it be weeks versus months!