Despite being furthest from our eye line, it’s often a person’s shoes which catch our eye first. With that in mind, surely it makes sense to ensure that your shoes are polished and looking their best when making that all important first impression in a business meeting, on a night out, at a wedding or any other function.
Okay so there is the option of buying cheaper pairs of shoes but by the time you’ve had a couple of pairs, you would have been better off buying and looking after that more expensive, genuine leather pair you wanted in the first place. When leather is cared for it can last a life time and an important part of helping leather last is knowing how to polish shoes.
A good shoe shine will not just extend the life of your favourite footwear, it will also give you a hint of added confidence knowing that your shoes stand out for all of the right reasons! Shining shoes isn’t a difficult or long process and the results will last.
Believe it or not, you can actually get away with just using some shoe polish and a quality polishing cloth but for the very best results you’ll want to use a few more items.
1. It’s very rare that a pair of shoes are beyond saving. Whilst some may need the use of cleaners, creams & more. In most instances knowing how to polish shoes correctly will be enough to get your shoes or boots looking great.
2. Water helps to smooth out the shoe polish, get a really high gloss shine and has been used by the military for years to achieve parade ready results. Spit shine anyone?
3. There are so many different shoe polish products available today but they aren’t all the same. As an example, our Famaco shoe polish contains beeswax which provides a superior shoe shine, whilst also conditioning and softening the leather to prevent it from cracking. It also provides some protection against spillages.
4. A strong shoe brush will prepare your shoes for polishing by removing any dirt which may be on the surface or within the more hard to reach areas. There’s no point polishing over bits of mud and dust.
5. A genuine horsehair brush has super soft bristles which are great for removing excess polish and starting to buff the polish to a high shine.
6. A quality polishing cloth will be the right texture for bringing your footwear to a gloss shine. It won’t leave bits of lint or dust on the shoe and the fibres won’t leave small scratches in the new polish. It should give a completely smooth finish and this is why the word ‘quality’ is so important.
7. A pair of shoe trees or toe puffs will stretch out the leather so that the polish can get right into any cracks and creases to help fill them and give your shoes a nice flat finish like when they were new.
Polishing shoes isn’t always the cleanest of jobs so it’s worth choosing an area you don’t mind getting a bit of polish and dirt on. Alternatively you can use a sheet, newspaper or old towel to cover an area.
You want your shoes to be entirely covered so there aren’t areas which are unpolished and exposed. Removing shoe laces is a quick and straightforward so it’s worth taking them out to avoid them being ruined by getting shoe polish on them. Keep them well away from your polishing area and possibly even put them in to soak or purchase a new pair if they’ve seen better days.
Insert your shoe trees, toe puffs or newspaper and press them firmly into place to ensure all cracks are reduced as much as possible and you have a smooth surface to work with. If you’re using newspaper, make sure to pack it in nice and tightly as it will be staying in for a while and you don’t want the leather to shrink back and crease before you’re finished.
This is where your harsher shoe brush comes into its own. the bristles will get right into the hard to reach areas and remove any surface dirt to give you a nice clean, flat base to work with. Be sure to get right into the stitching, between the base sole and shoe body and also into the eyelets. You can use water for stubborn dirt but be sure that the leather is completely dry afterwards before you begin your shoe polishing.
Ensure there are no dirt particles left over which might scratch the leather or get caught underneath the polish and ruin your fantastically shiny shoes at the end of your hard work. Be sure to check them over in good light to be sure you’ve removed all dirt.
Now we’re getting somewhere and the fun can start! Take your cloth and add a small amount of shoe polish by using a circular motion in the polish tin. Be sure to avoid chunks of polish which will be difficult to smooth out or might get caught in tight areas. Build up your polish gradually and spread it evenly across the whole shoe or boot. Don’t apply the polish excessively as any that isn’t rubbed in thoroughly will simply be brushed off. The process should be continued until the whole of the shoe is covered with a matte, wax look and much darker than it started out.
If you’ve cleaned your shoe brush, you might want to now use it to ensure that all tight edges and corners have been polished too. Apply a small amount of polish to the bristles and rub gently into cracks and crevices so that they’re completely covered too. To avoid a build up of polish, this should be done gradually.
You’ll want to let the leather absorb the polish and begin to dry before you start to buff it otherwise you’ll just be removing it from your shoes or boots again. This doesn’t take too long but it’s the perfect opportunity to grab yourself a drink and admire the work you’ve already done!
Now you’re refreshed and ready to get back to work, you’ll want your horse hair brush to hand. Lightly brush the entire shoe with your horse hair brush using side to side motions dragging the brush away from the shoe at the end of the stroke. Be careful not to apply too much pressure in one area or stay in one area for too long as you don’t want to remove the polish. Be thorough and the make sure that there is no dullness left on the shoe. They won’t be completely shiny but you should have a great starting point for the next step.
Grab your polishing cloth and find a completely clean and unused area. To start with rub the cloth across the whole shoe to increase the shine following your horse hair brush efforts. After your shoes have had a complete once over, wrap a clean area around your index finger so that you have a flat bit of cloth on the tip. With small circular motions buff a bit of the shoe at a time. This is where you’ll really start to notice your shoes come to life. They should start to take a glossy appearance with the toe usually being the shiniest part. You might even breath warm air onto the surface to help generate a better shine.
You’re fully welcome to take the old fashioned approach but a small pot of water will do the job just as well. Take a small droplet of water onto your finger and transfer it to your shoes. With a clean corner of cloth once again wrapped around your finger, repeat the previous step making small circular motions using the water to polish the area to a high shine. Continue this process across your shoes or boots and ensure that no excess water is left on the surface. This step can be repeated if you want to achieve even more of a shine but in most instances just once will have your footwear gleaming.
You’re nearly there. All that’s left to do is ensure your shoes are completely dry and re-lace them with your newly cleaned or better still, brand new shoe laces! If you’ve gone for the washed laces approach and don’t think they do your shoes justice after all of your hard work, you can get a new pair here!
That’s it. After all of your hard work, all that’s left to do is admire your newly polished shoes and the looks of approval you’ll get when wearing them. After this initial thorough polishing, maintaining your shoes is quick and easy. Why not check back soon for our blog post on how to maintain your shoes & boots? We hope you’ve enjoyed our blog post on how to polish shoes.
Repeat the cloth polishing step with an old pair of tights for the perfect finishing touch!
Why not check back soon for our blog post on how to maintain your shoes & boots? We hope you’ve enjoyed our blog post on how to polish shoes. Want to try it for yourself? All of the items used are available at the following links:
Alternatively you can just browse all of the products on our site and pick out your own.
Published 29th June 2016
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