How To Get Salt Stains Out Of Leather Or Suede Boots

You Can Get Salt Stains Out Of Boots. Moreover, You Can Prevent Them As Well

Winter, boots and salt stains is a scary combination. On a snowy ground, the footwear is highly prone to get some salt deposition on the surface. It may trigger desaturation causing multi-colour spots on the surface or, in a worse case, causing the cracks and tears. You may end up changing the pair so often. But there are ways to combat the situation and increase the lifespan of your pair longer than one season. You don’t need to avoid the snow but to take some simple pro-active measures.

Let’s learn how to get salt stains out of boots, whether it’s a pair of leather or suede.

How Do Your Boots Get The Salt Stains

Don’t mistake the snow as a culprit. The snow itself doesn’t have much salt to ruin your boots. Then how do your boots get the salt stains?

The salt is sprinkled, later on by the municipal, to clean the snow off the roads. The idea is to alter the melting point of the snow. Let’s understand how?

In general, water freezes at 32 Fahrenheit (0 Celsius). If 10% salt is added to the water, it takes as little as 20 Fahrenheit (-6 Celsius) to freeze, and it retains it’s liquid state even at 32 Fahrenheit (0 Celsius). And if 20% of the salt is added, the water needs as low as 2 Fahrenheit (-16 Celsius) to freeze as snow. That’s the reason salt is sprinkled onto the snow so as to clean the roads.

On the other hand, the salt is not soluble in the water. Once the snow melts and turns into liquid, the added salt remains present into the water. As on the snowy surface, your boots usually dips in, thus, soaking the salted water.

This water, later on, gets evaporated but the salt remains there and deposits itself on the surface of the boots. This salt deposition is very stubborn and hard to remove out of the boots.

If you try removing it harshly with a brush or so, it will invite scratches, cracks or tears and ruin the pair. So don’t get crazy to get rid of salt stains on leather boots, instead, follow the best practices that I will explain later in this article.

How Does Salt Ruin Your Boots

The salt is acidic by nature, and it is very harsh on leather. As soon as you notice salt stains on boots, act at your earliest to clean them off before it does any permanent damage.

As long the salted water is soaked, the acidic nature of the salt is diluted and doesn’t do much harm. But once the water is evaporated, and only the salt is deposited on the surface, it acts as a strong acid.

The chemical reaction weakens the leather fibres and fades it colour sucking all the shine and charm out of the boots. It drastically shortens the life of the pair.

How To Get Salt Stains Off The Leather Boots

Here is what should you do in case you get salt stains on your boots.

First of all, neither scrub it with a brush nor rinse or wash it with plain water. It will only further ruin the leather and sometimes tear it apart.

Instead, do it as:




Even if it’s a leather pair or the suede one, before cleaning them, remove the excess dirt, mud or brittle salt with a clean and dry cloth. I reiterate, use a dry piece of cloth.


Nothing can be as easy yet effective as a mixture of white vinegar and water. Vinegar is available in every home or can be easily purchased from a nearby store. Moreover, it’s not an expensive product.

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◦ Take three parts of water and 1 part of vinegar and mix them up.

◦ Take two pieces of cotton fabrics.

◦ Dip one piece of the fabric into the mixture and rub it slowly on the surface but in a circular motion.

◦ Once the stains are gone, take another piece of the fabric and keep buffing the leather surface until dry.




Even if the salt gets deposited on a particular area of the boot yet don’t be limited to this field only while cleaning the stains. The water is soaked by the whole boot, so the salt remnants reside throughout the surface. They might be less to null noticeable, but they are still on the entire surface. So clean the entire boot to be on the safe side.

How To Remove Salt Stains From Boots Without Vinegar

Saddle Soap:

If these are leather boots, there is a better topical method to combat the salt stains – The Saddle Soap.

Contrary to common belief, although the traditional version used to be harsh on the leather, but the modern saddle soap is not harmful, to your pair, at all. Take a saddle soap pack manufactured by a reputed brand and it will work fine:

◦ Take a water-soaked piece of cloth. Remember, it should be just soaked not drenched. Wring the piece of cloth to remove extra water.

◦ Rub the moistened piece of cloth on the saddle soap and then on the leather boots. Keep rubbing and it will produce some lather.

◦ Once the pair is entirely covered with lather, leave it as it is, for a couple of minutes and let it do its job. Remove the lather with a moistened piece of cloth. It won’t take long and will bring new life to your pair.

◦ Once you have cleaned all the salted stains, do not mistake washing off the lather with water. Take another moistened piece of cloth and clean the surface.

Lemon Water:

In case, you are unable to arrange vinegar or saddle soap, there is an alternative home ingredient – The Lemon. The citric acid doesn’t go well with the salt and acts against it, thus, removing it off the boots. Do it as:

◦ Squeeze a half-cut lemon into a bowl.

◦ Remember, do not use the juice on the leather but the squeezed part.

◦ Dip the squeezed lemon into the water so as to reduce its intensity and increase the liquidity.

◦ Clean the surface, in a circular motion, with the squeezed lemon and it will soon remove the salt stains. It works miraculously.

◦ Clean the pair with a dry cloth and keep buffing for a few extra minutes.

Baking Soda:

As an alternative, baking soda can help getting rid of salt stains on the boots. Just add a teaspoon of baking soda into a bowl of water. Soak a piece of cloth in this mixture and clean the stains. It may take a little longer to clean the surface completely, but it works fine.

What To Do Post-Cleaning To Recuperate The Loss

Good job buddy! You have cleaned the stain salts off the leather boots. But that’s not all.

You need to take some extra measures to restore the charm of your favourite pair. No doubt, salt is acidic and harms the leather, yet the cleaning methods to remove those stains are also acidic but with lower intensity.

Their gentle acidic nature reacts with salt and plucks it out of the boots.

In the fight between salt and cleaning remedies, leather gets harmed but not permanently. Just follow a few extra steps to recuperate the loss and nurture the pair further.

Please Note: If you are using modern saddle soap, these conditioning steps are not mandatory as these saddle soap cleans and nourish the leather at the same time. Here I explain All About Modern Saddle Soaps.

But if you are using any other cleaning method, you have to take some further steps such as:

  • Make It Ready To Wear: Your pair is clean but not fully dry yet. Don’t wear it right away. Instead, buff it with a brush to remove excess moisture and then let it sit at a normal temperature so as it dries naturally. Don’t use any artificial heating option such as a blower, fireplace or flame to speed up the drying process.
  • Use A Polish And Conditioner: Once the boots are completely dry, use a suitable polish and buff it for a little longer. Once the finish is well applied, don’t forget to use a leather conditioner as it nourishes the fine fibres of the leather. That’s all; you are done.

How To Prevent Getting Salt Stains On Your Boots

Isn’t it better if your boots do not catch salt stains at all. Sadly, You can not do much to avoid your shoes getting them. But, in the nutshell, you know that it is the water that is responsible for driving the salt into your boots.

So it is always a wise decision if you preferably buy a pair that is water resistant.

In case, your pair is not waterproof; you can use beeswax to make them so. Just rub the wax on the boots. Give it a mild heat so as to seep into the leather pores and let it cool down naturally. That is just a quick overview. Here is a complete guide on How To Waterproof Your Boots.

How To Get Salt Stains Out Of Suede Boots

Although the essential steps remain the same yet the situation is different in the case of suede boots.

A suede surface has a grainy texture. You can use only the vinegar method or lemon method described above to clean the salt stains off them.

Don’t use baking soda or saddle soap to get rid of salt stains on suede boots.

Moreover, once the surface is suede surface is cleaned with vinegar or lemon, you will be doing an extra step. Take a soft brush and rub it on the surface in a circular motion. It will raise the grains and retain the textural look.


For now, you are equipped with all the necessary information about how to get salt stains out of boots. Not only this, you better know how to avoid them as well. These are quite easy measures that can retain the strength and charm of your footwear for a longer period.

As a goodbye note, I must say, it is necessary to act quickly as the salt starts harming the surface right away. The more time it resides on your boots, the more efforts you need to make for nourishing the pair after cleaning. Sometimes, all the efforts are in vein if it’s too late.

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