How to Clean Salt Stains Off Your Leather Shoes

Do you leave your salt stained shoes in the house even though you want to wear them just because there’s salt stains on them?

During the cold and wet months of the year, leather shoes take the worst beating out of anything  we wear. We’ve made this simple 4 step process to quickly clean your shoes when they get dirty so they are ready any time you want to wear them. Just mix two household kitchen ingredients to keep your leather shoes in tip-top condition. 

Leather shoes are known to have long lifespans when cleaned, conditioned and taken care of regularly. Although leather is known for being a durable and sturdy material, moisture combined with the increased exposure of salts in the leather can dramatically shorten the lifespan of the shoe. 

What Does Salt Do to Leather Shoes? 

A common misunderstanding is that road salt used to melt snow and ice is what causes the damage to the leather shoe. In fact, the salt comes from the leather itself which is used in the tanning process. When the leather shoe gets wet this makes the salts rise to the top of the shoe which causes damage.  

Here are the 4 Easy Steps to Clean Salt Stains from Leather Shoes 

What You Will Need: 

  1. Castile soap (For cleaning surface dirt)
  2. Towel
  3. White vinegar (Excellent at removing salt stains and other mineral deposits in leather) 
  4. Spray bottle (To combine water and vinegar)
  5. Shoe polish (or hair conditioner)

Steps on How to Remove Salt Stains: 

  1. Initial Cleaning

Start by removing any excess dirt that is stuck on your leather shoes. First, you will want to begin by adding 1 tablespoon of castile soap to 1 cup of warm water.

From there you will blend the castile soap and warm water, once that is complete, dip a clean towel into the mixture. Now take that towel and begin to clean off any dirt or debris on your leather shoes. 

  1. Remove Salt Spots

This second step will be aimed at removing any salt buildup on your leather shoes, begin by adding equal parts vinegar and water to a spray bottle. 

Then you will want to spray some on a portion of another clean towel; focus on the outside of the shoe where there are salt stains and buildup.

  1.   Condition Leather

Now on to step 3, we will be focused on conditioning the leather and ensuring it is rehydrated due to using the vinegar and water mixture. Vinegar, although amazing at removing salt buildup does contribute a great deal to the shoe losing a fair bit of moisture.

To rehydrate the leather on your shoe and prevent future cracking; apply some shoe polish and follow the instructions on the shoe polish label. Another option if you have no shoe polish is to use a hair conditioner as an alternative. Finally, buff out any left-over shoe polish or hair conditioner and clean once you are done with a clean cloth.

These 3 images below show the results of a quick 5 minute clean from one shoe to the other. the loafers are 2 years old and have been worn more than 100 times. the green boots are 2 years old and have been worn the last 2 winters and the red boots were added to the rotation this winter but were worn 2-4 days per week. There are not many salt stains but each leather has dried up and you can see the improvements after a little bit of polish after cleaning. The leather is much more vibrant and healthy. Each right foot was treated.


  1. Add Waterproofing 


Lastly, you can apply a waterproofing spray onto your boots that are suitable for leather. Doing this will help prevent too much moisture from entering and also keep the leather fibres robust.
To finish, apply some waterproofing spray to your leather shoes that are appropriate for leather. Using waterproofing is highly recommended as it will help extend the lifespan of your leather shoes.

If There Are Salt Stains Does That Mean the Leather Is Ruined? 

Salt stains on leather shoes can permanently damage the shoe if left untreated. This will result in the leather shoe becoming quite dry and cracking increased areas. Along with that, bubble marks tend to appear on the shoe which decreases the lifespan of the leather shoes dramatically.  

Our focus at Crossover Footwear is to help make the time you spend shopping for that perfect leather shoe more pleasant by simplifying what can be an overwhelming process at times. Join us as we help guide you in finding that perfect pair of leather shoes and all the necessary facts on post-purchase shoe care!

Crossover Footwear leather shoes have been designed for the 21st-century man, so you can look stellar when in the workplace or running around town on the weekend. Our shoes came out of the search to find something unique while also not breaking the bank, so what did we do? We created shoes that are stylish, durable, and fairly priced.

The shoes made by Crossover Footwear are created with the utmost care from the stage of conception through to the final touches before the shoes are shipped out. Stylish quality and modest designs ensure that our leather shoes fit your wardrobe and lifestyle.

 Visit our website if you want to learn more about leather shoe care, join us at!

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