Removing salt stains

Removing salt stains from footwear

If you work outside, or even if you wear your safety footwear outside in the winter months, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will have to deal with salt stains. Salt is the most commonly used ice-melting substance in Canada, and while it works great on ice, it’s not so good for your footwear. The good news is that there are steps you can take to both prevent and repair salt stain damage to your safety boots.


As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s far easier to stop the stains from happening in the first place than it is to remove salt stains that have already occurred. The easiest way to prevent salt stains on your footwear is to avoid wearing your work boots or safety shoes outside. If your job is predominantly inside, consider keeping your shoes in a bag or a locker and changing into them once you are indoors. This advice doesn’t help much if your work is done outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with salt stains. Avoid puddles and slush where possible – freshly fallen snow is less likely than slush or puddles to contain salt residue. If you do get your boots wet, try rinsing them off before the salt dries with fresh water. Use a waterproofing product that prevents salt stains from forming in the first place. In the winter, make sure to waterproof your boots more often, once a month to prevent damage from occurring.


If you’ve already stained your safety footwear, all is not lost. In fact, cleaning salt stains off suede, leather, or man-made materials isn’t too expensive but it is a little time consuming so prevention is definitely preferable. To remove salt stains from your safety footwear, you need a soft cloth and a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water. Dip the cloth in the solution and rub at the stain in a circular motion. Allow the leather to dry, and determine whether you need to repeat the process. Depending on how stubborn the stain is, you may need a few attempts to remove the stain. For leather work boots, you can also try saddle soap – which is made specifically to clean leather saddles. Don’t use it on suede or man-made materials though as it can stain them.

Salt stains are a fact of life during winter in Canada but you can prevent salt from ruining your safety footwear with a little prevention and a little elbow grease.

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