How To Polish Your Shoes September 30 2011

Shoes are often not given the amount of attention that they actually deserve when it comes to a man's wardrobe. Most men make sure there is no dirt on their shoes and consider that passable. However, the truth is that properly polished shoes say a lot about the person that's wearing them. Taking the time to polish your shoes will also extend the life of your footwear. Spend a few minutes on your shoes and you are going to notice the difference, and so is everyone else. So what are you going to need to properly polish your shoes? 

  • Shoe polish (preferably a wax-base)
  • Some paper towels
  • Old newspapers (to work on, shoe polish can be murder to get out of a carpet or floor)
  • Some old rag, a piece of cloth or an old t-shirt
  • A brush (make sure you use a different brush for each color)

Start with clean shoes

This is an important step; if you are going to start smearing shoe polish on your shoes while they are dirty, they may in fact look even worse after you are done. Make sure you have any shoelace tucked into the shoe, it'll be difficult to get shoe polish out of your laces.  Make sure you wipe your shoes down with damp kitchen paper and dry your shoes with a different paper towel. Do not apply any shoe polish while your shoes are still wet, leave them sitting out for a minute if they still feel damp.

The right polish

You want shoe polish that most closely resembles the actual color of your shoes. Remember that applying dark blue on black just doesn't fly and there are plenty of different tints of brown, you do not want to go darker or lighter. If you haven't applied your shoe polish to the shoes you are about to start polishing, make sure you test the shoe polish first. To do so, pick an area of the shoe that isn't going to be visible to everyone right away, one good area would be the instep. 

Applying the polish

First, you put the brush into the polish itself. Sometimes the polish can be quite hard so you will have to circle around a little to get more on the brush. Place your hand inside the shoe to get a firm grip (use your right hand if you are a lefty and vice-versa) and begin applying the polish to the shoe in smooth, small, round motions. The leather may appear more dull than it did before, do not worry about this because it is normal. If you have any obvious wear or scuffmarks on your shoe, make sure you spend a little bit of extra time in these areas. Give your shoes a minute or two to absorb all the polish.

The finishing touches

Grab your old rag, piece of cloth, or old t-shirt and move it all over the surface of the shoe. It is important that you use both smaller circular strokes and long strokes. Repeat this until the aforementioned dullness is gone and you have the kind of shine you want.

If you want your shoes to last as long as possible, it is important to polish your shoes at least once every week, more often if you get them wet or dirty.