Ask the expert: Did salt ruin my nice boots?

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Salt eats boots, even expensive ones

Having just moved to Brooklyn last year from sunny Sydney, this is the first time I’ve had to battle a true, brutal winter. Initially excited over the prospect of looking chic while drinking hot cocoa and building snowmen, I brought with me a pair of lovely expensive black leather boots, which I promptly dunked in six inches of briny melted snow. As they dried out by the heater, rings of crusty white salt appeared, then worsened. Concerned over the future of the only nice pair of shoes in my possession, I went to the N11th Shoe Repair to ask shoe doctor “Uncle” Clever Vercose for his diagnosis and money saving tips.

Me: So are my boots ruined forever?

Uncle Clever in action

Uncle Clever: No I don’t think so. But this only happens because you didn’t treat the leather before you wore them in the snow.

Me: What do I do now?

UC: You can try de-salting and waterproofing them yourself, and if that doesn’t work you bring them back to me and I can make them look like new.

Me: How do I de-salt them?

UC: You can either buy a de-salting spray [you can get desalter from most shoe repair stores, or online for around $3.50 for 4 oz] or you can try just wiping them down using a damp rag and a mix of white vinegar and warm water. Wipe them down again with fresh water before letting them dry completely.

Me: And how do I waterproof them?

UC: Using a silicone waterguard on them will protect the leather and make it last longer.

Uncle Clever is on the 3rd floor at 118 N 11th Street in Williamsburg. He charges $25 for reconditioning and waterproofing a pair of boots.

Several other places in Brooklyn offer emergency boot repair in Brooklyn that come highly recommended by Yelp users. We called each to check the prices.

Yelena Shoe Repair (85 Nassau Ave., Greenpoint) has a cult following and is the most budget-friendly option, with a full clean and waterproof only $10.

Angelo’s Shoe Repair (268 14th St. in Park Slope) charges between $18 and $24 to condition and waterproof salt-worn leather.

Michael’s Shoe Repair (319 Smith St., Gowanus) A reconditioning will set you back $20, and $24 for waterproofing as well.

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  1. saddle soap doesn’t do the trick? i’ve been saddle-soap washing my boots every time i come back in from the tundra, and they’re holding up pretty well.

  2. Just ran across this helpful FYI. Thanks i will try today on my boots. Funny I get the “pearl of wisdom” from Oz! Just thought of being in Sydney this time last year. Relos live in Bronte, Mum from there. Cold in Chicago very Hot in Sydney. Wonder if you will see this as over three years since you wrote. Take care mate Sis

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