How to Properly Shine a Shoe

Pair of men's brown leather bootsIf you're like most fashion-forward people, you think of good shoes as investments. After all, you spend good money on them. You count on them to make you look polished and put together wherever you go. Solid upkeep is the key to making sure your shoes look fantastic for as long as possible, so it only makes sense to be invested in your shoe care routine as well.

Naturally, regular polishing is an important part of keeping your shoes in fantastic condition. However, there's definitely a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Let's take a closer look at how to properly shine your leather shoes and ensure they look their very best for a long time to come.

Shoe polishing materials

Shoe Care Essentials Every Shoe Lover Should Have

While there's certainly nothing wrong with treating your favorite pair of dress shoes to a professional polish now and then, you really need to know how to take care of your own shoes as well. Even the shiniest, most gorgeous pair will eventually look worn and old if it isn't cared for properly. Get started by putting together a shoe kit that covers all the bases. Here's what you'll need.

Shoe Brush

A good shoe brush is doubly important when it comes to keeping your shoes in good condition. To begin with, it's used to clear your shoes of dirt, dust, and grime before you begin the polishing process. It's also how you'll buff your shoes to a high polish.

If you're serious about keeping your shoes in tip-top shape, you might even want to invest in two different brushes - a wide shine option, as well as a smaller round dauber brush for applying cleaner. However, if you only want one, definitely go for the wide shine option.

Soft Polishing Cloths

You'll also need to assemble a collection of soft cloths you can trust not to harm your shoes. You can buy specialized polishing cloths at any shoe supply store. However, plain tee shirts or undershirts are also the perfect texture for the job, so feel free to simply recycle your retired ones.

Leather Cleaners/Conditioners

Think of the right leather cleaner and conditioner combo as the shoe equivalent to a good shampoo and conditioner. The cleaner gently removes dirt, stains, and other impurities from your shoes without damaging them, while the conditioner protects the shoe from drying, cracking, and brittleness.

Shoe Polish

Last, but definitely not least, you need the right shoe polish to add color, shine, or luster to your shoes. Polishes are typically either creams or waxes. Creams typically add color, while waxes add shine, so keep this in mind while shopping. Make sure the polish you choose is the correct shade for your shoe.

Pair of black leather booties

Nailing the Shining Process

Once you've got all your necessary tools at your disposal, it's time to put them to work. Start by protecting your table, furniture, or floor by laying down newspapers or anything similar. Shoe care products like polish have a way of getting all over everything and staining whatever they touch, so play it safe. After that, you're ready to start shining.

Remove Dirt

Start by gently buffing the shoe with your shoe brush to remove any dirt, dust, or debris. Then follow up by dampening one of your soft cloths or tee shirts in a little clean water and wiping them clean.

Dealing with a pair of shoes that's unusually dirty or has built-up polish that needs to be removed first? You can use your leather cleaner to help remove it. Apply cleaner with either another cloth or a small dauber brush.


Once your shoes are clean, remove the laces. Then apply your leather conditioner with one of your soft cloths. Don't overdo it! A little really does go a long way. Once the product's been applied, allow the shoe to absorb it for 10-20 minutes.


Once your leather shoes are thoroughly conditioned, it's time to polish. Apply the polish to your shoe with a soft cloth using a gentle circular motion. Just like the leather conditioner, start with just a little bit. Let the polish dry for 10-20 minutes.

Finish by treating your shoe to a vigorous buffing with your shoe brush. This not only helps the polish work its way into the leather but removes any excess at the same time. It also creates that beautiful, lustrous shine you're looking for! Want a super shiny shoe? Try applying a cream polish first, and then following up with a wax polish.

As you can see, shining your shoes is something that you can easily do at home. It's all about making sure you have the right shoe care products and techniques at your disposal. Try it today!



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