How to shine your shoes using shoe Polish

With the current style and fashion more geared towards sneaker than shoes, the skill of shoe polishing is becoming something of an oddity. Where once there were cobblers dotting every street or independent shoe shops carrying out repairs, there are now only a handful. With our throwaway culture, it’s easier to buy a cheap PU leather pair of shoes than resole an old pair.

When you buy a quality pair of shoes, once they’re looked after, there’s no reason why they cant last you years. With a bit of polish and elbow grease, it’s really quite easy to keep a pair of leather shoes looking their best for years.

Here’s how to shine or polish your favourite pair of shoes:

Step 1: Find an old towel or newspaper to spread over the area you will be working on. Shoe polish has an uncanny ability to get smeared everywhere even when you’re being careful, it’s really hard to get out of carpet and even harder to get out of a white shirt (I was asking for trouble)

Step 2: Give your shoes a brushing with a good quality hair brush to get the dust and dirt off your boots. If your shoes or boots are really dirty then you might need to give them a wipe with  wet rag, if you do – make sure you let them dry before applying the polish.

Step 3: Press your small round brush in to the tin of shoe polish (we use Kiwi), you only want a small amount of polish, that’s the real secret. Many people think you need to apply a generous amount of polish – not the case.

It’s better to build up the layers of shoe polish, that’s how you get the really good shine. Apply polish to the whole shoe to begin with. Be sure to match the colour of your shoe polish to your shoes as closely as possible. You’ll want to make sure to get down in to the seams of the shoe and attempt to cover evenly with shoe polish. Give it a few minutes to try, usually as you apply polish to one shoe, then the second by the time you’re finished with the second you’re good to go to step 4.

Step 4: Brush the entire shoe vigorously using the horsehair shine brush. The point of this is to basically brush off all the excess polish, leaving only a small film on the outside of the shoe.

Step 5: Once you feel comfortable that the entire shoe has been covered and brushed it is time to focus on the toe and heel for extra shine. There’s two different methods for this, the first is to apply a small amount of polish as before to the toe of the shoe, then shine. Then add, then shine. You’re basically building up the levels of polish to get a really deep the shine. The second method is to dip a cotton ball or pad into some water and squeeze out any excess moisture so it is damp, not dripping. Then get a little polish on the damp cotton. Next apply the polish on the toe and heel of the shoe using small circular motions. Sit back, this is going to take a while.

Step 6: Repeat Step 5 until you are satisfied with the level of shine. Remember to use a new piece of cotton each time and to remove all excess polish before applying a new coating. Also, the initial shine is the hardest, it should get a bit easier each time you do it.

These shoes were fairly new and this was my first time giving them a good shine. From start to finish, it took me approximately 25 minutes to get them to the state shown below. Most of this was spent going over the toe to get that great shine. If I were to come back in a couple weeks it would take me half the time to do the same job.

Building a Shoe Shine Kit:

Before you try to build one, if you have black shoes you can always just buy the one sold on military bases worldwide…and the one I use. It is basic, cheap and has worked for me for 6 years. Here is the link. If, however, you want a nicer kit, different colors of polish, or just like being independent, here are the items you need:

  • tin of wax polish
  • horsehair shine brush
  • shoe polish brush (applicator)
  • cotton balls
  • shine cloth

What do you think?

Will you make the effort to make sure your shoes look their best? Look after your shoes, and they’ll look after you!