Shoe Polishing Techniques


Polishing your shoes not only makes them look brand new, but polishing regularly also helps protect your shoes from scuffs and everyday wear and tear. Using proper polishing techniques is the key to achieving perfect shine and making your shoes last longer. These techniques originate from the military, but can be used on any type of leather shoe.


Proper polishing requires proper supplies. For black shoes, get black shoe polish, which is tinted black. This will help keep your black shoes a true black and protect them from fading and fill small scratches. Neutral shoe polish is suitable for black or colored shoes, but doesn't contain pigment. If you have black shoes, purchase both black and neutral polish. Apply neutral polish over black polish as a "top coat" for extra shine. You'll need a very soft cloth to apply the polish to your shoe so that you won't scratch the leather while polishing. A car cleaning sheet, microfiber towel or old cotton T-shirt will work well. You'll want a horsehair brush to finish off your polish. If it's the first time you're polishing your shoes, or your shoes are extremely dirty, have a solution of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol handy to clean them. To protect the surface you're using to polish your shoes, keep newspapers on hand, which also makes clean up much easier.


Spread the newspapers out and place your shoes and supplies on top. If this is the first time you're polishing your shoes, use the rubbing alcohol solution to strip the shoes of the factory polish, which will interfere with your polish. If your shoes are very dirty, use this solution to remove any dirt that won't brush off. Apply the solution with a towel in a gentle massaging motion until the entire shoe is covered and clean. Once that's dry, wrap your polishing cloth (or T-shirt) around your index and middle fingers and dip it into the polish. Rub the entire shoe with the polish, working in small, circular motions, and keeping the polish smooth and even. Once the first layer of polish is dry, repeat with a second layer if you desire a shinier shoe. After you've allowed your last layer of polish to dry, brush the shoes back and forth lightly to remove excess polish that may ultimately dull the finish.

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