How to Properly Polish Shoes
If you ever have the chance to get a professional shoe shine, don’t miss the opportunity. It is a unique feeling to walk away with a pair of gleaming dress shoes while you simply sit there and check your email or text a few friends.
Cost of a Shoeshine
However, the cost of this professional shoe shine can vary from five to fifteen dollars, and having that once or twice a week can transform into hundreds of dollars a year. For those of us that want to compromise, I suggest you treat yourself to a professional shine once a month, but then do it yourself the rest of the time. Giving your shoes a professional shine only takes a few minutes and about ten dollars worth of supplies. The method I am sharing with you was taught to me by my father who was taught by his father (if you looked in my closet now, my shoes shine like mirrors).
What You Need for a Proper Shoeshine
You can save money by buying a Kiwi shoe shine kit. These cost about ten dollars and have everything you need. If you want to buy them individually, you need brown and black polish (and cordovan, if you have cordovan shoes), a horsehair brush, some newspaper and some lint-free cotton clothes (an old cotton shirt cut into strips works best). That’s all.
How to Polish Shoes
- First, makes sure any dirt is cleaned off the shoes. A rag dipped in warm water should do the trick. Just run it over the shoes until any dirt and dust is gone. Once clean, allow them to dry completely. The warmer the water, the quicker they will dry. Set the shoes on the newspaper so the dirt and polish doesn’t get on the floor or furniture.
- Next, open the can of polish. Fill the empty half with hot water. Wrap the cotton cloth around two fingers so they completely covered (keep it thick, because polish is almost impossible to take off your fingers quickly). Dip the cloth into the polish, swirling it around the edges of the can, then dip it into the water. You should have enough polish on the rag to coat it, but not so much that you see chunks of polish. The water allows the polish to dry quickly and puts a shell of polish on the shoe that shines like nothing else.
- Apply the polish in small circles. Putting it on in small circles instead of simply wiping it across guarantees every inch of the shoe receives a healthy amount of polish. Wiping it leaves an uneven coat. After coating one shoe and then the next with polish, allow the shoes to dry for ten to fifteen minutes. Since you used hot water this won’t take long.
- Finally, you should be left with a pair of shoes that have a hazy, waxy coat on them. That’s perfect. You can buff with a horsehair brush, which is traditional, but a clean cotton cloth works just as well. Again, an old T-shirt works here. Simply take the T-shirt (or brush) and rapidly buff the surface, pressing hard. Within seconds, those shoes will gleam.
The best thing about this kind of polish, as opposed to the instant shines, is that to get that shine back, all you need to do is rebuff them with a clean cloth. The dirt comes off and the shine comes through. Polish your shoes once every week or two and you’ll always be the man (or woman) that has the snazziest shoes.