Save your shoes from salt

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By Jen Chae

With the slush, snow and salt, winter can be your boots’ worst nightmare, especially if they’re made of high-maintenance materials like suede and leather. If you haven’t been taking special care of them, they probably look faded and salt-encrusted. But fear not: it might not be too late to restore them. Here are a few how-to tips that can save your shoes.

Prevention: Stop it before you catch it
Most cashiers recommend a protective product for your leather or suede boots at checkout. These waterproof sprays or balms act as a coating to protect the surface of your boots from salt or water damaga. After applying the balm, it is crucial that you wait 24 hours before going out in them. You can pick up a waterproof leather spray at most shoe stores, drug stores and some grocery stores. For $7 to $15, you can prolong that new-shoe look.

Damage control: Natural remedies

Mix two tablespoons of water with two tablespoons of white vinegar for a homemade stain remover that works miracles. Here’s how to apply it:

  • For leather: Dip a soft piece of cloth into the mixture. Gently scrub the stains in a circular motion, frequently rewetting the cloth with the solution. Finish off by rinsing the surface with a water-dampened cloth to remove the smell of vinegar, then let the boots air dry.
  • For suede: Soak a nylon scrubber or sponge with solution. Blot the salt stains and rub in small circular motion. Finish off by washing the surface with a water-dampened scrubber to remove the smell of vinegar, then let the boots air dry.

Heavy Duty Solutions: Chemical cures

Cleaning solution may not renew your boots 100 per cent , but it can make them look much nicer. Just be sure to read the instructions carefully before use. Leather or suede stain removers can be purchased at your local shoe store or drug store for anywhere from $5 to $15. Be sure to polish your boots regularly, as the salt can eat away at the fabrics if it isn’t removed.

Photo: Jennifer Cheng

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