How To Polish Shoes

Everyone has a favourite pair of shoes; your classic, go-to set of leather shoes or boots that can be transitioned from work meetings, lunch dates, dinner outings and formal events. They’re usually a well-fitting pair that fit just right so you know you never have to worry about them being uncomfortable. But, how can you get your favourite pair of shoes well-polished and looking like new?

Polishing your shoes should be a regular routine, especially if you wear them quite often. Thankfully, shoe polishing is a quick and easy regime that will prolong your shoe’s lives and keep them looking as luxurious as the first day you wore them.

What Equipment Will You Need?

Polishing a pair of leather shoes is a simple, straight forward process that anyone can do at home. All you’ll need in order to add some shine to your shoes is:

  • Shoe polish (make sure you pick the right shade to match your shoe colour)
  • A Polishing Cloth
  • A Clean Cloth
  • A Horsehair Brush

What Is The Difference Between Wax or Cream Shoe Polish?

The main two types of shoe polishes are wax or cream; the crucial difference between cream and wax polish is that cream polish has more colour pigment in it. This means it can even out and restore some of the colour on your shoes that gets lost to scuffs and wears, whilst still giving them an extra shine. Working as more of a conditioner, frequent polishing with cream shoe polish will keep your shoe’s leather in excellent condition.

Wax shoe polish, however, can add more of a protective layer to your shoe’s. Ideal for your leather winter boots, wax polish helps build a level of water resistance on your shoe’s leather while providing a top-level shine, which can be really useful though it doesn’t condition as well as cream polish. 

There are pros and cons to using both, so it can often be helpful to alternate between the two and provide your shoes with all the goodness that both polishes can provide.

Steps to Polish Leather Shoes

1. Remove Your Laces

First things first, make sure you remove your laces from your shoes to stop any of your polish staining them and this will keep them fresh for when your shoes have been replenished.

2. Add Padding To Your Shoes

Fill your shoe up with padding – this could be balled-up socks or packed up newspapers– and stuff it into the shoes. This will ensure you don’t lose that comfortable shape whilst providing you with a solid form for polishing.

3. Brush Off Dust & Dirt

Using your dry horsehair brush, wipe away any of the dirt and dust that has collected on your shoes. Horsehair brushes are perfect for polishing because they are strong enough to brush the dirt away but soft enough to make sure your leather remains unmarked. 

Use a smaller brush to clean the welt and the harder-to-reach areas, and your leather footwear will look a lot cleaner already.

4. Apply The Polish (Wax or Cream)

Both wax and cream polishes provide vital positive attributes that you want when polishing your shoes. The main difference between the two is that cream polish ensures your shoes will keep their colouring whilst wax creams offer better protection from wear and tear. 

Once you’ve decided which polish is best for you, add a bit to your polishing cloth and apply it to the leather in small, circular movements. Ensure it is spread evenly across the material and that all of the leather is completely covered. 

5. Buff Out the Polish

Buffing is a quick way to let that shine come through and have your shoes look glimmering. Using your horsehair brush again, buff the polish in a quick, back and forth motion and you will begin to see some of that luxurious shine starting to come through.

6. Wipe Over

Once you’ve buffed, with your clean cloth wipe off any of the un-buffed, excess polish – covering every bit of your shoes.

7. Air Them Out

All that’s left now is to give your shoes enough time to dry off before you reinsert your laces (if you need to). Leaving your footwear for 10 to 20 minutes will give them just enough time to fully dry and will have your shoes or boots looking as good as new.

Can You Polish Suede Shoes?

If you were to use shoe polish on your suede shoes, you’d end up very upset with the outcome. Shoe polish will damage, stain and change the colour of your favourite pair of suedes, leaving them looking completely different and causing damage to the suede that you won’t be able to fix. Suede shoes require a special type of care which, thankfully, we’ve put together in its own handy guide. Take a look at our How To Clean Suede Shoes blog and choose the most effective, safest way to get your favourite pair of shoes looking brand new.

Helpful Shoe Maintenance Tips

A few steps you can take to help make your shoe care process a little easier include:

  • Use a shoe horn to put your shoes on – this will stop you from damaging the back whenever you’re in a rush.
  • Don’t put too much wax where your shoe needs to bend; otherwise, this can cause some cracking along with unwanted marks on your shoes.
  • Regularly use your horsehair brush after you wear them, this will stop the dirt building up too much and will make your life a bit easier when it comes to the full polishing process.
  • Store your shoes in their boxes – this will keep them protected while you’re not wearing them, stopping dust from accumulating.

Taking extra care of your shoes and polishing them regularly will help keep them protected from wear and tear for much longer; prolonging their life and making them an integral part of any outfit. You’ll be able to step with style confidently when you have a shiny pair of polished shoes that are ready to face the day ahead.  

Take a look at our full collection of women’s shoes at Gabor Shoes and find your newest pair to test out all of our polishing maintenance tips!