Wardrobe Wednesday: Salty boots

Photo: bootmoodfoot.com

Here we are almost at the end of January. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting rather fed up with all this snow and freezing rain. And, so are my boots. Like us, our boots endure a lot, especially in our crazy winters! We spend so much money and time to find just the right pair and then poof, one good snowstorm later and they are ruined…but are they??

Salt is an essential combatant to keeping us from slipping and sliding, but these highly corrosive minerals wreak havoc on our footwear, especially if made of leather or suede. Salt damages leather by stripping it of its moisture. It burns through the absorbent pores of the leather drying it out and in turn weakening it. Ohhh and, we’ve all seen them…those sad looking salt stained suede Uggs. When layered with salt stains, they go from looking comfy and cute to used and abused. Why are they so prone to those ugly, wavy lines around the toes and heels? Like leather, suede absorbs the water and salt. Once the water dries the salt stain remains, sometimes even worse than on leather.

What can we do?

The MOST important thing to do to try to salvage your boots or shoes is to take care of the problem by cleaning them immediately. Cleaning the salt off right away will reduce cracking and creasing, as well as reduce staining of the leather or suede.


  • Use a warm, damp cloth to wipe away the stains.
  • If that doesn’t work, use a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar. Yes, vinegar. That stuff cleans and disinfects everything!
  • Wipe gently then rinse with a clean, damp cloth.


  • Try to remove stains as soon as possible. The longer the stains stay the more permanent they will become.
  • Blot stains with the same 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar.
  • Let air dry.
  • Once dry, you need to restore the nap of the suede with a soft suede brush, a soft toothbrush or a soft white eraser.
  • In severe cases, you might consider using a suede renew spray. It’s like spray paint for your boots and shoes. Buy a can that’s the same colour as your footwear to hide the remaining traces of the salt stains.

How to avoid the problem:

  • Use protective layers of sprays or lotions. Most shoe stores will offer you something like this when you purchase your shoes or boots. These products condition the leather or suede; repel water, dirt and salt. So say yes when the salesperson asks!
  • Neither leather nor suede are ideal to wear in the wet weather, but you still can if you use a waterproofing spray.
  • Probably the best way to combat the salty boot dilemma is to invest in leather or suede man-made alternatives. Shoe and boot companies are making fantastic looking footwear that is made especially for the winter months. They are warm and repel water and salt.

Whatever type of footwear you choose this winter, just remember we have a few more months to endure before we can take our flip flops and sandals out of hiding.

Karen has had a passion for style and fashion most of her life. Her lifelong dream came to fruition 17 years ago when she opened her boutique Moda Elle in Plaza Pointe Claire. Karen prides herself on excellent personalized service and truly loves to make her clientele happy. She recently doubled the size of the boutique in order to serve the well-dressed West Island women better.