Got salty boots, shoes, clothes, or carpets? Salt stains are an unfortunate—and crusty, ew—part of winter. You might not be able to prevent them (though using less road salt could surely help, municipalities!). But you can remove them. Follow these tips:
For boots and shoes, including leather or suede
Mix two parts water with one part vinegar (or a one-to-one ratio if the stains are very bad); dip a clean rag or sponge in the vinegar-water solution, and wipe way the salt stains.
For thick, grainy buildup, first use an old toothbrush to remove the worst of the salt; be careful to flick it away, not grind it in. If your boots or shoes are wet, allow them to dry completely before attempting to remove any stains. And don’t try to speed up the process—with, say, a hair dryer or heater. This could make the stains even harder to remove, not to mention, damage the footwear.
Apply a shoe, leather, or suede conditioner if you have it.
For (washable) clothing
Flick away the worst of any dried salt with an old toothbrush or bristled brush. Soak the entire item, or at least the salt-stained areas, in cold water, ideally overnight. Wash as usual, with your regular detergent and cold water. If the garment is dry clean only…take it to the dry cleaner.
Vacuum the area to remove loose bits of salt. In a spray bottle, mix hot water and vinegar in a one-to-one ratio, then spritz the salty patches enough to dampen but not soak them. Wait five minutes, and blot dry with a clean rag or paper towel.
Want to clean more stuff? Your guide to cleaning just about everything at the cottage.