How To Polish Shoes
Polishing your shoes can set you apart from others.
People subconsciously (sometimes even CONSCIOUSLY) judge you based on not only the type of footwear you sport, but also the general level of care you put into that footwear.
While it is true many men do not wear dress shoes on a daily basis, all men have at least one pair stashed away in a closet somewhere that they pull out for weddings, funerals, and anniversaries. At TheGenuineMan.com we are here to help you get the most out of what you have – and when talking dress shoes that means a great polish.
Along with a professional shave, a professional shoe shine is a rite of manhood. When you have a chance to get one done, give it a try. In many larger centers shoe shine stands are quite common, in other cities they may be quite hard to find, or perhaps out of the way. To do it yourself, follow these instructions.
What we have here is a typical mans dress shoe. Slightly worn and ignored, the leather is in good shape without any cracks or stains, but with several scuffs and some visible wear on the inside. This is a shoe that can still be very serviceable with some care.
Begin before getting all dressed up, and by laying out some newspapers on the countertop. You may want to put on a pair of rubber gloves, as the polish does have a tendency to stain your fingers.
The first step is to clean the shoe with a damp cloth. If the shoe is very dirty, you can scrub it with a mild cleaner such as saddle soap. Let the shoes dry, and move on to the next step.
At this point your shoes should be conditioned. There are many leather conditioners on the market which do an admirable job, find one that fits your price point and follow the instructions provided.
Next, begin to apply the polish to the shoe. We are using a paste wax to polish this shoe. Paste wax will give you the brightest shine, and also seals the shoe to protect it from moisture. However, the wax can cause the shoes to dry out. This is why the conditioning step is so important. There are other shoe shine products on the markets such as creams and liquid polishes. Creams can give a very nice glow to the shoe, and also moisturize the leather. There are many reports of liquid polishes drying out shoes very quickly, so I would suggest avoiding these products.
Begin by taking a soft cloth, an old sock works very well, and apply some polish to the shoe. Move around the shoe, rubbing the polish in with a circular motion. If the shoes are in quite bad shape you may wish to remove the laces to provide easier access to all the nooks and crannies.
Once all the surfaces of the shoe have been covered, let the shoes sit with the polish on them for several minutes, until a haze develops on the polish. Then, begin to rub the shoe with a clean cloth, to really work the polish into the leather and take off any excess.
After going over the shoe, add a few drops of water to the shoe, or dampen your cloth slightly. This is the spit in the spit shine. Do not actually use saliva to moisten the polish.
At this time, rub the surface of the leather rapidly and with some pressure. This smooths the surface of the shoe and gives that nice shine you are looking for. If you need an extra bit of help using an old pair of pantyhose can bring on an especially brilliant shine.
Generally, a quick cleaning before wear or a touchup with a polishing sponge will keep your shoes looking great for some time. Once the shine starts to fade or you begin to get scuff marks in the shoe it is time to begin the process all over again.
Need a quick shine?
Only have a couple of minutes to get a great shine on your shoes? Spraying them with a product such as Armor All or furniture polish and wiping them up will give you a great shine that will last for an evening. However, make sure to clean the shoes and apply a proper polish soon. Products like this can dry the shoes out and cause them to crack.