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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How do I make sure to get the right size?

To measure your feet:

  1. Get a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a tape measure.
  2. Stand with one foot on the piece of paper, and have most of your weight on your foot to simulate walking.
  3. Holding the pencil perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the paper, mark a line at the back of your heel and at the tip of your longest toe. Also mark a line along each side of the widest part of your foot.
  4. Measure length and width to the nearest 16th inch and subtract .20 to .25 inches, or .50 centimetres, to account for the width of the pencil.
  5. Find your corresponding size in the charts below.

A couple of tips to get the perfect fit:

  • Measure your feet later in the day as feet normally swell and can become up to half a size bigger in the evening.
  • Measure both feet and use the measurements of the biggest foot. Many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Wear the same type of socks you will generally be wearing on the job when you measure your feet.

Here are some general guidelines to assess fit once you’ve received your new boots:

  • Try on new boots towards the end of the day.
  • Walk around in a clean environment for a couple of hours to make sure the boots are comfortable.
  • Try boots on both feet, as many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Boots should fit snugly around the heel and ankle when laced.
  • The inner side of the boot should be straight from the heel to the end of the big toe.
  • The boot should grip the heel firmly.

Measuring apparel for proper fit

Size X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large 2X-Large 3X-Large
Neck - Inches 13-13.5 14-14.5 15-15.5 16-16.5 17-17.5 18-18.5 19-19.5
Neck - Centimetres 33-35 36-37 38-39 41-42 43-44 45-47 48-50
Chest - Inches 30-32 34-36 38-40 42-44 46-48 50-52 54-56
Chest - Centimetres 76-81 86-91 97-102 107-112 117-122 127-132 137-147
Waist - Inches 27-28 29-31 32-34 36-38 40-42 44-46 48-50
Waist - Centimetres 68-71 73-78 81-83 91-96 101-106 111-116 121-127

Hint: For the most accurate results, measure yourself in your undergarments.

  • Neck: Measure around the base of your neck, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your neck to allow ease in fit.
  • Chest: Measure around the fullest part of your chest, keeping tape firmly under your armpits and around your shoulder blades.
  • Waist: Measure around your waist, slightly below your natural waist, where you normally wear your pants. Insert your forefinger between the tape and your body to allow ease in fit.
  • Sleeve length: Bend your arm slightly. Measure from centre back neck, across your shoulder, down to your elbow, down to your wrist.
  • Hip: Measure around the fullest part of your hips, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your hip to allow ease in fit.
  • Inseam: Measure a similar pant that fits you well. Measure along the inseam, from the crotch seam to the bottom of the hem.

Between sizes?

If your measurements are in between those listed in the size chart, pick the next larger size.