The Essential Supplies
- Shoe polish
You can go for a wax or cream shoe polish, depending on the type of finish you expect.
Cream polishes moisturize the leather and make it softer but boast less shine and may affect the shoe color. Thus, you should try to find the polish that will match your shoe color as closely as possible. If you want to play safe, go for a neutral or uncolored cream polish.
Wax polishes are more protective, better at covering scuffs, and add a rich layer of shine. If your aim is a classic shoe shine look, this is the way to go.
- A soft polishing cloth
Anything soft, like a special buffing cloth, a piece of an old t-shirt or a rag will work. You can’t go wrong with buying a specific cloth for shoe shining, but don’t stress over it if you are a bit tight on the budget. Just wrap a piece of the shirt around your fingers and get to it!
- Clean rag
You’ll need something to clean the shoes before shining them and wipe off excess polish as well.
- Horsehair buffing brush
Horsehair buffing brushes are soft and sturdy at the same time. Specifically designed for shoe shining, this type of brush won’t scratch the leather but it will create a smooth surface and raise the fibers of the leather.
- Welt brush
Welt brush makes applying polish to hard-to-reach surfaces a breeze. You can use this small brush to scrub the dirt out before you apply the polish, but an old toothbrush will come handy too (another budget-friendly alternative).
- A cup of water
As weird as it sounds, applying some water will give that type of spit-shine touch to your shoes.
Step-by-Step Shoe Shining
Now you have all your materials close at hand, the shoe shining process can start. Just make sure to cover the working surface with newspaper or an old towel beforehand.
- Remove laces
If you don’t want any polish on the shoelaces, get them out.
- Fill the shoe
Shining works best when you are working on a firm surface. Insert some paper inside the shoe or a shoe tree if you have one to stuff the toe area.
- Remove dust and dirt
Use the welt brush or toothbrush and some water to clean off dust and dirt. Any lingering dirt particles may scratch your shoes, so make sure to scrub it off and dry the shoe before moving on.
- Apply polish/wax
Put a dab of polish onto the cloth/shirt and apply the product in circular motions. Re-apply polish if needed and work your way through until you achieve a way matte finish.
- Apply polish to the welt
We’ve come to the neglected areas such as the welt and heel. Add a bit of polish using a toothbrush and allow it to dry well.
- Buff the entire shoe
The horsehair buffing brush comes to the action! Buff the shoe with side-to-side motions and eventually, you will notice a nice layer of shine coming through.
- Wipe off excess product
Use a rag to wipe off any excess polish/wax and move on to the next step in about 10 minutes.
- Spit-shine time
No leather shoe can go without the spit-shine signature. Use your finger and place a water drop to the shoe, then add a bit of polish/wax. Rub the two onto the shoe in fast and short motions.
Use a soft cloth to dry the whole section with similar movements. Optionally, you can repeat the process until you achieve the desired amount of shine.
Leave your shoes to sit for about 20 minutes. Once dry, re-lace and put them on!
Even though people don’t stare at other people’s shoes all the time, they (especially women) will look at your footwear often. Job interviews, weddings, formal events, high-stakes date nights – you want to look confident. Just imagine wearing an impeccable outfit with a pair of scuffed shoes. That’s why it is so important to get familiar with the process of how to shine shoes (at least if you want to take breaths away as soon as you enter the room).