There are a lot of options for shoes when it comes to getting dressed up, but nothing makes a better first impression than a high-quality pair of leather shoes. But if you are going anywhere in leather shoes, then you need to make sure they are shining; otherwise, the lasting impression you make won’t be too favorable. Being able to shine your shoes is a life skill that will see you through various areas of life, and it is something you can benefit from. Not only does this ensure that your leather shoes look attractive and brand-new on every occasion, but polishing shoes can also extend the life of the leather to provide better value.

There are a lot of low maintenance shoe options nowadays, including some that may shine when you first buy them, but being able to polish shoes yourself is something that everyone can benefit from. When you make your shoe shine, you will walk into any and every occasion with style.

How To Polish Shoes: What You Need

To polish your shoes the right way, there are some tools you need to be prepared with, such as:

1) The Right Polish

When it comes to shining shoes, shoe polishers are only as good as the materials they use. The most important thing you will use when working to shine your shoes is the wax polish, and there are lots of different kinds to choose from based on the look you want and how complex of a process you want to make shoe polishing. Shoe polish is available in various forms, including wax polish, liquid or oils. Liquid polish is the best for a quick yet effective shoe shining, but oil and wax polishes are the best for those looking for longer-lasting results. Both oil and wax polish are heavy formulas and are designed to re-hydrate leather, making your shoe shine while also extending the life of the materials.

As well as considering the type of shoe polish you want to use, you will also have to think about the shade. Based on the style and color of the shoe that you need to apply polish too, you can choose from a range of shades or select a neutral polish that is ideal for shoe shining of all kinds.

2) The Applicator

Once you have chosen the best shoe polish to shine your shoes, you now need to consider which applicator you are going to use. Most people choose to use an old t-shirt or a similar soft rag to apply polish to their shoes due to how accessible this is, but there are other options. If you do not have an old t-shirt that you can spare for your shoe shine or want something more professional, then you can also use specific polishing brushes.

Unlike an old t-shirt or similar soft cloth, polishing brushes are stiff and have short bristles to provide a precise shoe shining when using certain types of polish. If you want to shine your shoes regularly to make a great impression with everyone you meet, then you may choose to invest in a shoe shine or polish kit that will include a polishing brush. A toothbrush and some cotton q-tips will also be needed to apply polish into tighter, hard-to-reach areas of the shoe that require additional precision.

TIP:  Invest In A Horsehair Brush

Shoe polish and a soft cloth will only get you so far. To get the right kind of shine to your shoe and add a glow to your step, you need to use a horsehair brush. This kind of brush is made using longer, softer bristles compared to a polish brush and is used to remove excess polish from the shoe, which creates the shine. Using this brush and a soft cloth to remove excess polish, and to shine your shoes, is typically the last step when polishing footwear.

How To Shine Your Shoes To Improve Every Step

Once you have gathered all your tools and materials, you are ready to shine your shoe. This is a process you should aim to do regularly, and certainly, before wearing the dress shoe to any occasion. Not only does the use of shoe polish make your footwear shine, but it can also extend the lifespan of your shoes, making them last beyond every step. If you want to get more step out of your shoes, then you should make sure to polish them regularly.

1) Cover Your Work Surface

Before you can begin polishing your shoes, you first need to prepare the area you are working in. Using polish on shoes to add shine and make them last through every step is a messy job and can leave stains if the proper care is not taken. This is why before getting out the shoes polish and your shoes, you should first lay down newspapers on your work surface to protect flooring and furniture. Old newspapers, other junk mail like a newsletter or brown paper bags are a great option for protection, and they can be easily recycled.

2) Clean The Shoes

Before adding shine to your shoes, you need to clean them first. Every time you use a pair of shoes and every step you take in them causes debris, dirt, and wear to appear, which needs to be removed to create an even shine. It is important to remove all build-up dirt, sand, salt, or dust from the shoes as these could get trapped beneath the surface of the polish, which will not make the right impression when you step into a room or event. Also, leaving dust and debris on your shoes when polishing them can cause damage to the leather.

You can use a horsehair brush on your shoes to remove any dust debris from the entire shoe surface, or you can use a soft rag and warm water all over the shoe. Just make sure that your shoes are completely dry before applying polish that you use to shine.

When cleaning your shoes, you may also find it easier to remove the laces from them. This is recommended to those who are learning how to use shoe polish or have never tried to shine their shoes before as it makes the process easier.

3) Apply The Polish

Apply a small amount of polish to the shoe using your chosen method, whether that is with an old t-shirt or polish brush. This is the first step when it comes to improving the appearance of your shoes and adding a shine to them, so make sure to use small circular motions to prevent damage to the leather while also ensuring even coverage. When applying polish to shoes, make sure to use even pressure as this will ensure that the polish is being applied evenly to create the best kind of shine. During this step, ensure that you are paying close attention to the toe and heel of the shoe, as these are the parts that experience the most wear and will need more precise attention.

To create an even, shiny appearance, we recommend you start gently buffing the polish into the upper layer of the shoe. If you are using an old t-shirt or similar material to apply a cream or wax polish, hold the fabric tightly around your index and middle fingers as this makes it easy to buff in the right amount of polish required.

Continue to apply the polish product over the entire shoe, using q-tips or a toothbrush for the hard-to-reach areas to help create an even shine. In this step, many people also apply a little shoe polish to the soles of their shoes, in the areas that don’t touch the ground between the toe and the heel to provide shine and offer another layer of durability.

4) Wait For It To Dry And Add Additional Layers

Once you have applied the first, even layer of polish to your shoe set it aside on the newspaper so it can dry while you work on the other shoe. Depending on the kind of shoe polish you use, the drying time can take up to 20 minutes, although liquid polish does dry a lot faster.

After the polish has dried on both shoes, you can apply an additional layer to either shoe if needed. In this step, you can pay close attention to your handy-work and see whether you have created an even layer for the shine or whether more work needs to be done.

For each layer, it is important to ensure that you are using a small welt of polish on your shoes as this is easier to manage. It is easier to add more layers of polish, then it is to handle a thick layer once it has dried, which is why we recommend working in thin layers.

5) Remove Excess Polish

Wait for all layers on each of the shoes to dry and ensure that this has been done completely before trying to remove excess polish. This can be done with ease using your horsehair brush and should be done using short, quick strokes. In this step, you can apply some elbow grease to ensure that your shoes are polished evenly and will have an attractive shine that is certain to make an impression. The heat that is caused by vigorous brushing of your shoes will help the polish sink into the leather, making it work as a conditioner to ensure that the color and durability will last a long time.

The best way we can guide you through this step is to ensure that most of your movement comes from the wrist, meaning you will need to keep your arms stationary while you brush away the excess polish. It is also important to brush both sides of the shoe, as well as the back to provide an even layer of polish. You will find that both shoes at the end of this step will have a slight shine that you can enhance to make a lasting impression at every event you attend.

6) Shine The Shoes

When it comes to adding shine to your shoe, the easiest way to do it is by using a soft cloth to buff at the polished leather. Using any kind of cotton material will provide a great shine to your shoes, as long as you control it properly in a brisk side-to-side motion over the shoe. Some people will choose to breathe on the shoe, almost as though they are fogging a mirror, before buffing as it can provide more control by creating a path for you to follow. This step can increase shine.

You may also find it easier to wear the shoe or place it on some kind of stand to keep it in position when shining it. The spit-and-shine method is used in the military due to the bright shine it brings to leather shoes. This means spraying a small amount of water onto the shoe before buffing it with a cloth. This process should be repeated as often as necessary until you have achieved the shine you want. It is important to allow each layer to dry fully before buffing again to prevent damage.

Long-Lasting Care Of Leather

Polishing your shoes is a great way to prolong the life of your leather footwear and ensure that they also look great. Leather is a durable and timelessly stylish material, but it does require delicate care to keep it this way, which is why you need to use soft, cotton materials and proper shoe polish rather than harsh chemicals. This also applies to the removal of old polish from your shoes, which should be done using a leather conditioner rather than acetone or other chemicals as these will damage the leather, which cannot be easily rectified.

Shiny Shoes For A Shiny Impression

Leather footwear is a stylish addition to any outfit, and you can guarantee that you will make an impression on any occasion by shining them regularly. There are various supplies that you can use, allowing you to find the best polishing routine for you. There are various ways that you can look put together, but nothing is better than adding shine to your shoes!

About the Author

Hey, I'm Lilly Harvey. If there's two things I'm passionate about in life, it's shoes and writing!

Combining both my passions with my Fashion Design degree, I've helped create Shoe Adviser to help readers choose the best shoes for them, enjoy!

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