Salt away, salt away
This week, we show you how to quarantine the winter slush in your entryway, we promised we’d tell you how to take on another nagging issue that arises with snow and the city: salt stains.
For shoes, I spoke with Marlene Shunnarah, co-owner of BeeHive ShoeWorks Inc (35 N Wells, 312-263-4888) for some tips. First off, take preventative measures. For suede and fabric, spray your shoes with water repellent (she recommends Tarrago), and be particularly generous around the sole edging where the salt collects. For leather, apply a polish wax and then spray the water repellent. Also, always bring an old rag with you to dry off your shoes when you get inside rather than letting them dry on their own.
If you’d rather not resort to a professional cleaning ($18—$32 for leather shoes, $24—$36.50 for suede shoes), Shunnarah suggests starting off by applying a small amount of vinegar to the salt. (According to Shunnarah, you’ll be lucky if this technique actually does the trick.) If the salt disappears once the shoes dry, you’re good to go. If not, pick up a conditioner/cleaner mixture and de-salter formula (it’ll cost you about $15) at a shoe shop like Beehive or The Shoe Hospital (318 S Dearborn St, 312- 922-7518). Using a soft toothbrush, apply equal parts to the salt line and let the shoes dry overnight. If the salt disappears, apply a neutral cream to soften the leather—the salt dries it out—and then spray the material generously with a water repellent.
For clothes, I consulted co-owner of Davis Imperial Cleaners (3325 W Bryn Mawr Ave, 773-267-4560) Jordan Wood. First off, never try removing salt stains from suede at home, he says. It will definitely leave a ring. As for leather, while he strongly advises against cleaning it yourself (you could easily end up removing the color), here’s the way to go if you’re feeling gutsy: Using a sponge, rub the stain with soap, water and a drop of ammonia. Dry it quickly with a clean cloth. You have a much better shot with DIY cleaning when it comes to jeans. First make sure your jeans won’t lose their color by applying hot water from a rag on a unnoticeable place (like an inside seam). If it looks fine,use a bristly brush to lubricate the stain, tamping hot water mixed with a drop of ammonia and laundry soap. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then throw the jeans in the wash with extra hot water. And if all else fails, seek professional help.