While salting roads and sidewalks is necessary for safety in the wintertime, it threatens the well-being of your shoes. Here are two simple methods of combatting salt build-up for your leather and suede boots.
Leather boots are easier to clean than suede, as they don’t absorb as much grime, so you can just wipe the marks off the surface. Unlike suede, you can be generous with applying water as it won’t soak through.
Eliminating scuff marks on boots follows an identical process.
All you will need is a paper towel, or cloth, and water. If it’s a really tough stain, you might want to consider using a vinegar solution, saddle soap or a salt stain remover.
Wet the paper towel and wipe the area.
Let it dry.
Suede boots are a little trickier. Remember, suede absorbs water more easily, so you don’t want to soak them.
Mix 2/3 cup water with 1/3 cup white vinegar, or substitute a dash of mild dish soap/detergent instead.
Dip your toothbrush in the mixture and swipe or tap it on the rim of the cup like you would a paint brush. Lightly scrub the stains (with enough force to remove them, while being cautious not to leave water marks). For this reason, you have to be extra careful with boots that aren’t black (brown, tan, gray, etc.) and also give them ample time to dry. You may have some residual salt when it dries and will have to go over it again, depending on how bad they are. For this reason, do not let them get completely coated between cleanings. Also, avoid the zippers. Your boots may dry in a slightly different position and it could screw up the zipper track. Walter Bennett of Walt’s Shoe Repair in Oak Hill, N.Y., recommends Vaseline to help zippers glide over salted tracks.
Let it dry.
You can break out your handy toothbrush again in warmer months to combat grass stains—with toothpaste!