When it comes to mucky winter boots, it’s not the snow (and mud), but the salt that does the most damage. You want your boots to remain the fashion statements they were meant to be. Here are some ways to get the salt off your boots…

Vinyl and other synthetics: If your boot has a plastic shine, the cleaning comes easy. Soap can leave a film that requires extra rinsing. So we use a vinegar and water mix in a spray bottle (two-thirds vinegar, one-third water) and give our boots a squirt whenever they’re encrusted with salt. The residue wipes away immediately with a soft cloth.

Spud for your leather: Let leather shoes or boots dry naturally, away from direct heat and out of the sun. You can speed up the drying process by stuffing them with newspaper (which will absorb odors, too). When your leather shoes or boots are completely dry, rub them with a piece of raw potato, then buff them up with a bit of castor oil on a clean rag. Your leather will look and feel much better.

Suede solution: To remove salt from hard suede boots, create a solution made from one cup of water and one tablespoon of distilled vinegar. Dip a soft sponge in the vinegar-water solution, and gently wipe the stains off the suede. For tougher stains, use a soft toothbrush. Wipe off completely.

Soft suede: If you have soft, fuzzy suede, dip a clean, dry cloth or soft sponge in glycerin, and gently rub it onto the shoe or boot until the scuffs or salt stains disappear (this works on grease stains too). It will leave a dark patch. After rubbing with glycerin, scrunch up a coffee filter to buff the scuffed area, then let your suede item sit for an hour or so to dry completely. If you have a hard time finding liquid glycerin at your local pharmacy, you can use glycerin suppositories. Just cut one in half, and rub on the scuff. If your suede is not waterproof, be sure to test a tiny, inconspicuous spot first (such as a hidden part of the tongue or under a belt buckle). If the glycerin leaves a water ring after sitting for an hour, do not use. We’ve never had that happen. It usually works like a charm, especially on dark suede.

Keep your boots salt-free: Smear petroleum jelly on a soft cloth and keep it in a closed container. Put the container in a closet or cupboard near the door you use to enter and leave your home. Each time you go out, give your leather boots a light once-over with the jellied cloth. Do the same thing when you come back in. Your well-nourished boots will never have salt stains. This solution may also work on boots made from synthetic materials and imitation leather—but we can’t guarantee it. Test a small, inconspicuous area before coating the entire boot.

Related Articles