Removing Salt from Leather Shoes
Is there anything more frustrating then getting an expensive pair of leather shoes or boots and then they get ruined by the winter salt on the sidewalks? Living in Wisconsin, I know all too well how irritating this can be! Here are some tips to help restore your shoes and make them good as new. (Please note: doing this RIGHT AWAY when you notice the salt stain is important! You will probably have to treat your shoes numerous times through the winter season. The longer you leave the salt on your footwear, the more damage it will do)
1) Carefully examine them for any visible salt grains, and brush away.
2) Mix two parts of water, to one part of white vinegar. (I usually mix a 1/4 cup white vinegar with 1/2 cup water)
3) Working in small sections from the outside to the inside of the stain, Dip paper toweling into the solution and gently rub the solution onto the salt stained area. Once any salt residue in that area appears to be gone, take a soft cloth and buff that area dry. Continue working in small areas on the rest of the boot. Let the boots dry for at least an hour, and then check if there are any areas you need to redo.
4) Polish and use a leather treatment on your footwear ASAP. This will help add an additional barrier, and also strengthen the leather. I recommend Saddle Soap to do an overall soft leather cleaning.
★ IF your soft leather is extremely salt stained, you can clean the entire shoe first with a lemon cut in half. Let it sit and dry, and then wipe them off with a soft wet rag.
You can not treat suede as you would soft leather. Wet cleaning treatments that you use on Soft Leather are not good for suede; it will pull the dye out of the footwear.
1) Carefully examine them for any visible salt grains, and brush away. (Make sure they are COMPLETELY DRY)
2) Rub quickly with a knead-able eraser. (In most kids art cases) or VERY LIGHTLY sand away stains with an emery board.
3) If your suede is matted down, rub vigorously with a soft/clean toothbrush. (For severely matted areas, hold over a steaming kettle. The steam will help loosen the mat. BE CAREFUL not to burn yourself with the steam.)
4) IF this does not bring your salt stain up, YOU CAN gently dab some of the vinegar mixture above on the stain, BUT before buffing the suede back up, make sure it has completely dried.
Extra Tips for Leather:
★ I can not emphasize enough HOW IMPORTANT it is during the weather months to treat your soft leather or suede WEEKLY if you live in a winter climate. Even with pre treatment you still may need to clean up the occasional salt stain when it occurs, but not nearly as much if you keep your footwear treated.
★ To help keep leather footwear in shape, Especially when wet, make sure to use a shoe tree.
★ Before the winter season, treat all leather with water-repellent coating, like GHRI-tested Protect-all from Kiwi. It works on both suede and leather. (You can treat weekly)