Wintertime Remedies for Good Bootkeeping

Does the snow, sleet, and slush of winter leave your shoes and boots looking worse for wear? If you’re perpetually plagued by that pesky rim of road salt, or if your suede is looking sleepy, fear not — the solution to these wintertime woes is waiting right in your cupboard!

If the streets of your city or town are slathered with salt each snowy season, you’ve most likely encountered the tell-tale sign of the dreaded “ring around the shoe”: the white line of road salt that appears once your leather footwear dries.

The solution to this common conundrum is a simple mix of equal parts water and white vinegar. Soak a cloth in the concoction and apply where the salt lines appear. Rinse clean with a separately water-dampened cloth, and wipe dry with a clean towel. Allow your shoes to dry away from any heat sources, as they can make leather brittle and cause cracks.

Once your shoes or boots are dry, buff with a dry, soft cloth to get back that new-shoe shine!

The wet cleaning process may be perfect for leather, but your suede shoes require a more sensitive touch so they don’t lose their soft texture.

To tidy up soiled suede, gently rub away stains with an eraser or nail file.

If your suede is looking squashed, raise the nap by scrubbing vigorously with textured towel or toothbrush. If the nap is really flattened, simply hold your shoe a few inches above a steaming teapot for a few seconds, then use your clean toothbrush or towel to brush up the nap.

Now that your shoes are looking spiffy, prevent a future footwear faux pas by spraying shoes with a store-bought water-repellent — check to make sure it’s suede safe — at the beginning and end of each season, and after each cleaning.

Was this helpful? Do you have any good bootkeeping tips of your own?


About Julie O.

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  1. Avatar
    Jani 12/12/2011 at 11:58 am #

    Great article for this time of the year! Love your illustrations 🙂


  2. Avatar
    Kate 12/12/2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Yay, thanks for the water/vinegar tip! I live in Atlantic Canada and salt stains are a daily problem through the winter! I’ll clean my boots with purchased cleaner and they look fine until they dry, when the salt ring starts to reappear! Definitely going to try this out!!

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