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How to remove common winter stains

How to remove common winter stains

'Tis the season to be jolly vigilant against stains making their way on to your winter whites. After all, those cream-coloured jumpers and dark pairs of jeans aren’t going to stay immaculate for very long when you’re hitting up Christmas parties and trudging home through slush. One of the worst culprits for stained clothing isn’t actually the snow, or the ice, or the rain – it’s the salt we put down to grit the roads. Salt is the reason we’re walking around with weird white rings on our clothing and footwear.

(Have you checked out your latest set of Ideas yet?)

So, whether you’re the sort to carry a stain remover pen around with you, or you have more of a laissez-faire attitude towards your clothing, there are plenty of handy tips you can learn from the pros. We spoke to Will Lankston, from the prestigious dry cleaner Jeeves of Belgravia, about the best ways to tackle those pesky marks.


“On men’s leather shoes, water on a cloth should remove salt stains,” says Lankston. “If the leather is more delicate or if the shoes are suede or textured in any way, you can mix one part white vinegar for every four parts of water. The vinegar will help to lift the stains.”


“If the affected garment is everyday machine washable, then wash as normal and the rain marks should lift straight out. For suede or leather garments, things get tricky. If the stains are very light, then dry the garment naturally – away from any source of direct heat as this will dry out the leather. If the rain marks are heavy or the marks are still present after drying, take the garment to a leather specialist immediately.”


“This really depends on the garment. Silks and delicates should always be handled by a specialist. However, if the garment is more robust, wait for the mud to dry and then brush off any surface mud using a garment brush. Once the surface mud is cleared, apply some laundry detergent to the affected area and rub gently to allow it to absorb. Leave for a few minutes before putting in the wash as normal.”

Hot chocolate

“Blot, don’t rub. Blot as much of the chocolate as possible using an absorbent paper towel. Then flush the stain from the reverse side using plenty of cold water. Do this as soon as is possible and then apply laundry detergent to the affected area and leave to absorb for a few minutes. Finally, wash as normal. Do not attempt this process with silks. Take them to a specialist.”

Cranberry sauce and mulled wine

Follow a similar process to that of hot chocolate. However, if the garment care instructions allow, use a stain remover on the affected area instead of laundry detergent. This should help to lift the pigment from the fruit.”


“If your shoes are leather, clean them using a damp cloth, allow them to dry and then apply a good layer of polish. If your shoes are suede, allow them to dry before cleaning them with a suede brush. If the stains still persist, a suede brush can be used in combination with a suede shampoo.”