How to Protect Leather Shoes From Snow and Salt

Winter is one of the most challenging seasons for leather shoes. Leather doesn’t do well in winter, with snow and salt mixed together to make an icy mess on your footwear. Not only does snow and salt damage leather, but they can also cause your shoes to crack or develop permanent creases.

Luckily, there are some easy things you can do to protect your favorite pair of leather shoes this winter season. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to protect your leather shoes from snow and salt.

How to protect leather shoes from snow and salt infographic.

Use a Leather Shoe Protector Spray Before Stepping Out

Black winter shoes on a snow covered road.

Before you head outside, pre-treat your leather shoes with a shoe protector spray, made specifically for leather shoes. These sprays are great because they form an invisible barrier over the surface of your shoe that repels water and stains.

It is always a good idea to test the shoe protector spray on a small part of the leather shoe first to make sure it doesn’t ruin the leather.   

Use a Leather Conditioner or Shoe Polish Every Few Days

Brown leather shoes.

Shoe polishes and conditioners are excellent for restoring the color and shine of the leather. Additionally, they also add an extra layer of protection against snow and salt. Leather shoe polishes create an invisible barrier that prevents salt and snow from coming into direct contact with the leather. 

Before using leather shoe polish or conditioner on the entire shoe, test it on a small spot. Some shoe polishes are formulated with synthetic additives that will dry out the leather, so check the ingredients list before you use one.

Clean your leather footwear with a damp cloth before applying shoe polish or conditioner. 

Wipe Down Your Shoes With a Soft Cloth or Paper Towel When You Reach Your Destination

Wearing brown color shoes.

After you are done walking outside, wipe down your leather boots with a soft cloth or paper towel. This will remove any snow or salt from the surface of your leather shoe that has accumulated during walking. 

Leather boots are especially vulnerable to damage from salt used on sidewalks and paths. When road salt or salty water is left untreated on leather boots, it develops salt stains, making your shoes appear shabby. If you do encounter salt stains, try to clean them as soon as possible.

In order to remove this salt residue, you will need warm water, white vinegar, and a dry cloth. Mix two tablespoons of white vinegar with one cup of water in a bowl. Apply the solution using a clean cloth in a circular motion to remove salt stains.

Once you are done cleaning your shoes, let them dry, and then apply leather conditioner or polish. This will prevent the leather from drying out and developing cracks or wrinkles.

Leather shoes are bound to get wrinkles. Our guide to getting rid of wrinkles on leather shoes will help you if your shoes have developed wrinkles.

Dry Your Shoes Before Storing Them

Holding brown leather boots.

When you are finished wearing your shoes for the day, make sure they are completely dry before storing them. Leaving wet or damp shoes can cause permanent damage to the leather. Storing wet shoes can also cause mold and mildew to grow, which can be difficult to remove.

To dry your shoes, place a cedar shoe tree inside for about an hour or two. The cedar shoe tree will help your recently used shoes contract and dry out to their optimal form. You should do this every time you wear your shoes to remove moisture from normal wear throughout the year.

Cedar shoe trees should not be used if your shoes are completely wet due to stepping in snow or puddles. In order to absorb moisture, stuff your soaked shoes with crumpled newspaper or cotton rags and let them dry overnight.

Do not place your shoes in direct sunlight, near a radiator, or in front of a heater vent. This is because direct heat can dry the leather and cause it to crack and ruin.

After the shoes have completely dried, insert a cedar shoe tree and store them in a cool, dry place.

The Bottom Line

Shoes made of leather are very fashionable, but they also need to be maintained. Protecting shoes from snow and salt is not difficult. A few easy precautions are all that is required to preserve your beloved leather shoe in good shape for many years of use.

The best way to protect shoes made from leather is with a leather shoe protector spray or shoe polish. They provide an invisible barrier over the surface of your shoes, preventing salt and snow from damaging the leather.

When you get to your destination, make sure to wipe your shoes with a cloth or soft towel. This prevents water and road salt from penetrating the leather.

When you’re storing your shoes, make sure they’re completely dry. This will protect your shoes from mold and mildew.

We hope these leather shoe care tips will help keep your favorite pair of leather shoes in perfect condition no matter what the weather throws at them.

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