How to Remove Salt Stains From Clothes

using a soft bristled brush to remove salt stains

The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

If you've been plowing the driveway or playing in the snow, chances are, some of that white salt used to prevent snow from sticking to the ground has made its way to your clothes. The salt used to melt ice on sidewalks and streets contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, minerals that can leave white stains on clothes.

While salt stains are fairly easy to remove when they’re fresh, they can weaken or disintegrate fabrics, especially silk and wool, over time. With our guide, you can easily remove those white salt stains from your clothes.

Read on for instructions on how to remove salt stains—and all you need is detergent and white vinegar.

Stain Type  Salt-based
Detergent Type Regular detergent, distilled white vinegar
Water Temperature Cool

Before You Begin

Before washing a garment with a salt stain, check the care instructions to make sure it is washable.

If you're opting to use a home dry cleaning kit, which needs many safety precautions, dampen the salt-stained area with a light mist of water and blot away as much moisture as possible. Stubborn stains should be treated with the stain removal product provided in the kit before tossing the item in the dryer.

When to Call a Professional

Any garment that is dry-clean only or is a special-case fabric, like silk, should be handled by a professional. Drop your garment off at the local dry cleaner in this case.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 washing machine
  • 1 soft-bristled brush

Materials

  • 1 bottle laundry detergent
  • 1 bottle distilled white vinegar (optional)

Instructions

items for removing salt stains from clothing

The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

How to Remove Salt Stains From Washable Clothes

  1. Brush Away Excess Salt

    Use a soft-bristled brush (or an old toothbrush) to remove dried salt stains from clothing. This whisks away the salt without forcing it into the material.

    Most of the time, this might do the trick at ridding your garment of the salt stain. But, if any white spots still remain, continue on to remove them in the wash.

    using a soft bristled brush to remove salt stains

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  2. Rinse or Soak the Area

    Rinse the salt-stained area in cold water as soon as possible. If the salt has dried and stains have set in, brush off the salt as much as possible. Then soak the garment overnight in cool water.

    rinsing the affected garment

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  3. Treat With Stain Remover

    You can go about treating salt stains a few simple ways: either with a commercial stain remover, distilled white vinegar, or simply washing the garment in a heavy-duty laundry detergent. Any of these should be effective at removing the stains. Allow the stain remover to sit for a designated amount of time (10-15 minutes).

  4. Wash as Usual

    Launder the garment as usual, following the care label instructions. Use your regular detergent and cool water.

    laundering fabric as usual

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

Additional Tips for Handling Salt Stains

  • If you've just come in from a walk through slushy streets, don't wait for staining to occur. Toss your pants in the washer before the salt dries.
  • If traces of salt remain on the clothes, try a solution of 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 quart of water. Dampen a clean cloth with the solution, then blot the stain with the dampened cloth, followed by a dry cloth. Wash the garment again as you normally would.