Being an old man and a congenital know-it-all, I have decided to share the basics of shoe shining. Men’s websites have pretty good information on shining shoes, but ladysites are rather lacking in this category. And why shouldn’t our feet look shiny? Why shouldn’t they?
What You’ll Need
Pre-assembled shoe polishing kits are available at most grocery and drug stores, but you can just as easily put one together on your own. To quote the dad from That Thing You Do, “Shoe polisher kit. People can’t even get a brush and a rag out and shine their shoes anymore. They’ve gotta have a shoe polisher kit. Man oh man.”
It takes a little more than a brush and a rag–but not much more. The basics you’ll need are:
-Horsehair shine brush
-Polish that matches shoe color
-Rag (an old sock or t-shirt works very well). You can also use a toothbrush or a horsehair applicator brush.
1. Spread newspaper on the floor. Shoe polish is not easy to get out of carpet (or clothing, for that matter).
2. Remove laces. This way, you’ll be able to apply polish to the whole shoe, including the tongue.
3. Using horse hair shine brush, brush dirt off of the shoes. Or, if that’s not doing it, wipe them down with a damp cloth and allow them to dry completely.
4. Open tin of shoe polish by twisting the small metal piece on the side. It’ll pop the top right off. Science!
5. Wrap sock/rag/old t-shirt around two fingers and get a good dab of polish on it.
6. Apply polish evenly to leather surface of the first shoe, using small circular motions. A toothbrush can help you get polish in harder-to-reach places (along seams, for example, or next to the sole). Pay extra attention to the toe and heel of the shoe.
7. Wait at least 15 minutes for the polish to dry. This lets the polish soak into the leather. While the first shoe is drying, apply polish to the second shoe.
8. Once the polish has dried, buff all over with the horsehair shine brush. The point is to remove excess polish. Do this a little longer than you think is necessary.
9. Finally, buff with a chammy cloth. This removes remaining polish from the surface of the shoe–which is important, because any excess polish is going to end up on the cuffs of your pants–and it makes shoes nice and shiny.
10. You can repeat the process as much as you want for extra shine. For a spit shine, spray a little water on the shoe (or, if you’re less squeamish than I am, put a little spit on your polishing rag) when you’re buffing, or when you apply a second coat of polish.
1. Make sure your polish and shoe color match. In particular, make sure your polish is not darker than your shoes. Try it on a small area first. In terms of brands, Kiwi shoe polish is good.
2. It’s better to use different brushes for different polish colors. Even though you can’t see the polish on the shine brush, it’s still there. Over time, using the same brush for different polishes can discolor your shoes.
3. A tin of polish lasts a long time, brushes last even longer, and good, regular care will prolong the life of your shoe. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a bad investment.
4. These instructions apply to shining leather shoes. I don’t know nothing about no vegan footwear.
5. It’s better to shine shoes in a well-ventilated place. It also better not to get shoe polish all over your skin. Basically, don’t huff it in a paper bag or smear it under your eyes for a flag football game.
For those of you who are hesitant to use artificial chemicals–shoe polish is toxic, after all–some folks on the internet claim you can shine your shoes with the inside of a banana peel. I think this sounds weird, so I haven’t tried it, and I can’t vouch for it. But it is, apparently, a thing.
6. For shoes you wear regularly, it’s recommended that you shine them weekly or every other week.
7. If you keep a tin of polish for a long time, you may find that it dries up. Some people recommend softening it with a hair dryer. Others suggest more extreme remedies. The best thing, I think, is to buy a new tin. The stuff is cheap, and you can find it anywhere. It’s not worth risking your health or safety just to save two bucks on shoe polish. Really it isn’t.
What do y’all think? Any additions, corrections, alternatives?