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Easiest Ways to Remove Salt Stains from Clothing & Shoes

April 22, 2019

Rock salts are absolutely necessary during the winter; it prevents slips and falls when the ground is covered with ice. As great as it may be for deicing, however, it can cause another issue—stains. Given how it’ll be everywhere, the salt will get onto your clothes one way or another.

Generally speaking, the area that was exposed to the salt will be much lighter in color. You’ll definitely be able to notice it, especially if your garments are dark-colored. As with all stains, you want to try and get rid of it as soon as possible. The sooner you work at it, the easier it’ll be to remove! Not just that, but leaving it in can actually damage the fabric—after all, the salt is rich in chemicals.

What’s the best way to remove salt stains from clothing and shoes? Not too sure? Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here! On this page, we’ll be going over some of the best methods that you can use to get rid of these stubborn spots.

For your convenience, we’ve organized them according to garments.

Washing Instructions for Salt Stains on Machine Washable Clothes

Rock salts can easily splash up onto the hems of your trousers and coats. When it comes to removing the stain, you always want to act fast.

rinse off the salt stains

The first step is to rinse the area under running water—you want to do this as soon as possible. From there, place the garment in a basin or tub. Fill it with warm water and use it to rub the stained spot; this should help to remove some of the excess salt. Drain away the dirty water and refill it three-quarters full-time with water. Leave the items in and soak for at least 30 minutes—this will prevent the chemicals in the rock salt from bleaching the fabric.

Check the salt stain after soaking. You might have to repeat the above steps if it’s still visible. you can put it in the washer. If it’s gone, you can go ahead and put it in the washer. Add a scoop or two of ACTIVE detergent (depending on the size of your load) and wash with cold water on a delicate cycle. Remember to check the care tag label for the exact washing instructions.

Getting Rid of Salt Stains from Dry Clean-Only Clothes

As it turns out, it’s possible to get rid of salt stains even if your clothes are dry clean only.

Ultimately, what you want to do is to dampen the stained area with a little bit of water. We recommend using a spray bottle—that way, you’ll be able to control exactly how much mist comes out. Once it’s dampened, blot away as much of the water as possible with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Afterward, check the stain. Is it gone? If it’s still there, you might have to use a stain removal kit (you can usually find these in shoe stores). Of course, there’s also the option of bringing it to a professional dry cleaner. Make sure to point out the stain so they’ll be able to help you get rid of it.

Best Ways to Clean Salt Stains from Leather Clothing

Leather is generally easy to clean and maintain. With that said, they can be difficult to deal with when it comes to certain stains. Don’t worry, though, it is possible to get rid of salt stains on leather! Here’s what you want to do.

1. Wipe off all of the salt residue with a clean, damp cloth. Ideally, you want to do this as soon as you notice the stain.

2. Once you’ve wiped off all of the salt, blot the area dry.

3. Mix warm water and dish soap together in a small bowl using a one-to-one ratio. Dip a cloth into it and use it to wipe the stained area. Be gently as to not damage the leather; avoid rubbing it with force.

4. When you’re done, wipe the spot dry with another clean cloth. This is important as leather is porous. In other words, the liquid can be absorbed, which can cause another stain!

How to Remove Salt Stains from Suede Shoes

Boots are often worn during the wintertime, and for good reason—they’re warm and comfy. While it depends on the style, most are made out of suede, a type of leather that’s made from the ends of hides. Not only is it incredibly soft, but it’s also fairly durable.

With that said, it’s not invincible. Worn daily, chances are, they will get stained. In fact, it’s a relatively common issue. As you walk, things on the ground, including rock salts, bounce up onto the surface of the boot. The result? An unsightly stain.

removing salt stains from suede shoes

The key is to act fast! Quick cleaning will prevent the rock salts from damaging the suede permanently.

Removing Salt Stains From Suede Using Dish Soap

1. Wipe away as much of the salt as possible using a clean cloth or paper towel.

2. Using a toothbrush, lightly brush the suede along the salt stain. You can also use a designated suede brush. Be gentle with the motions—you don’t want to damage the suede by applying too much force. Just a little bit of pressure should be enough to dislodge any salt.

3. Check to see if the stain is gone. If it is, great! If not, continue with the steps below.

4. In a small bowl, mix one cup of cold water with a few drops of dish soap. Dampen a clean cloth with the soapy moisture.

5. Perform a spot test in an inconspicuous place on the boots. The last thing that you want to do is to discolour them further!

6. Once you’ve made sure that it’s okay, dab the stained area with the soapy mixture. Continue until the stain is gone. Avoid rubbing the area at all costs—that will likely damage the leather material.

7. Allow the boots to air dry. Do not put them under direct sunlight or heat.

8. Use a soft-bristled brush or dry cloth to restore the suede’s texture.

Note: Do you live in a cold climate? If so, you might want to consider investing in a suede protector. Ideally, you want to apply it at least once every season—that will help to prevent future stains.

Removing Salt Stains with Vinegar

Did you know that white vinegar can be used to get rid of salt stains? In fact, it works fairly well!

1. Mix a cup of water with one tablespoon of white vinegar in a small bowl.

2. Dampen a clean cloth or cotton ball with the mixture. Use it to carefully wipe off the salt stains on the leather shoes.

3. Check the stain. Repeat the above steps if it is still visible.

3. Once you’ve removed all of the stain, buff the surface with a dry cloth. Allow them to fully dry away from sunlight and direct heat.

Note: This method also works great for faux leather shoes!

Cleaning Salt Stains from Leather Shoes

Shoes that are made out of real leather can be pricey. Considering this, it only makes sense to clean them as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the greater the chance of permanent damage.

removing salt stains from leather shoes

1. Begin by wiping off as much of the salt residue as you can with a clean, damp cloth.

2. Combine one part white vinegar with one part water in a small bowl. Swirl to mix the solution. Dampen a cloth with the mixture and use it to wipe your leather shoes.

Pro-tip: Make sure that you’re using a white cloth. Otherwise, you can easily transfer dyes from the fabric onto your footwear!

3. Continue wiping until all of the salt residue is gone. Allow the shoes to air dry. It’s important that you do not put them under direct sunlight as the heat will cause the leather to crack.

4. If necessary, stuff the insides of the shoes with newspaper—this will help to absorb the excess moisture.

Note: Consider using a leather cream or condition. These products will moisturize the material so that it’s less likely to crack or dry out; they’ll also protect them from the elements. Do note, however, that most will not waterproof your leather shoes.

How to Clean Salt Stains Off Sneakers

Exercise doesn’t just stop during the winter—people still go to the gym, often wearing sneakers. In doing so, it’s not uncommon for rock salts to stain the surface. Fortunately, these types of shoes are easy to wash!

how to remove sat stains from sneakers

Washing Off Stain Salts With Liquid Soap

1. As always, the first step is to dislodge as much of the rock salt as possible. For this, it’s best if you use a stiff-bristled brush.

2. Mix together one cup of warm water with half a teaspoon of liquid soap in a small bowl. You might have to swirl it a bit to mix it thoroughly.

3. Dip a clean washcloth into the mixture. Use it to rub the stain off of your sneakers—be gentle. Avoid saturating the fabric; you want it to be just damp enough so that you can get rid of the residue.

4. Dab it with a clean dry cloth—this will absorb the excess moisture. Check the stain. If it’s gone, you’re good to go! If not, you might have to repeat the above steps.

Note: You can prevent future salt stains by spraying a layer of fabric sealant onto your sneakers.

Preventing Salt Stains: Consider Weatherproofing Your Shoes

Sure, you can wash away the stains, but it’s always a good idea to prevent them from happening in the first place. How? By using a weatherproofing product—they will not only shield your shoes from salt, but will protect them against snow, mud, dirt, and rain as well.

why you should weatherproof your shoes

If anything, you should definitely use them on a new pair of suede boots or white sneakers, if you want them to last at least!

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Picture of Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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