Skip Navigation

How to Shine Shoes

Your shoes are designed to withstand the wear and tear of daily use, but keeping them looking their best requires some maintenance. By polishing and shining your dress shoes regularly, they'll look sharp whenever you hit the town. Follow these simple steps to learn how to polish and shine shoes and boots so your footwear looks like new every time you step outside.

What you'll need:

  • Tarp or newspaper. This will help prevent the shoe polish from staining the floor or table.
  • Shoe brush. You'll use this a couple times in the process.
  • Damp cloth. This will help add extra shine to your shoes.
  • Leather cleaner or mild soap. What you use to clean your shoes will depend on the type of shoes you're polishing.
  • Shoe polish. Find a polish that matches the color of your shoes. Some will add water resistance to your shoes, so check labels carefully.
  • Soft polishing cloth or application brush. This can be a cloth or brush designed for polishing shoes or any clean, dry cloth that you have in your home such as a specialized shammy, t-shirt or rag.
  • Q-tips or small cotton swabs. These items will help you get small, hard-to-reach places on your shoes.
  • Soft shining cloth or brush. Much like the polishing cloth, this cloth should be any clean and dry cloth.

Step 1: Set up the shining space.

Choose where you're going to shine your shoes, and then put down the tarp or newspaper to protect surfaces from the shoe polish.

alt

Step 2: Remove shoe laces.

Taking out the laces will make it easier to polish and shine the crevices in and around the tongue of the shoe.

alt

Step 3: Clean your shoes.

Before you begin polishing and shining shoes, they should be clean and free of any excess debris. If you're polishing leather, follow the proper procedure for cleaning leather shoes with specialized leather cleaner to ensure optimal results.

Learn more on how to clean leather shoes

alt

Step 4: Add a thin layer of shoe polish to the first shoe.

Use the polishing cloth or applicator brush to evenly apply the polish and rub it into the shoe with a gentle circular motion. Coat the entire exterior of the shoe in a thin layer of polish.

alt

Step 5: Coat the shoe tongue and other smaller areas on your shoe.

Use a small cotton swab or Q-tip to cover all of the places that are difficult to reach with the polishing cloth.

alt

Step 6: Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the second shoe.

Give the first shoe some time to dry while you coat the second shoe in a thin layer of polish.

alt

Step 7: Brush off excess polish.

Once you've finished the first layer of shoe polish on both shoes, you'll want to use a shoe brush to remove extra polish, so that the second layer will glide on smoothly.

alt

Step 8: Repeat steps 4-7.

Add a second coat of shoe polish to the outside of your shoes for the best color and shine.

alt

Step 9: Brush shoes until you reach the desired shine.

Use the shining cloth or brush to complete the finish on your shoes. Rub the cloth or brush in a brisk, circular motion to achieve a classic shine. Some people prefer a spit shine, which is simply a more prominent shine. To achieve a brighter, more visible shine, repeat the polishing steps three to five times, and then finish with a barely-damp cloth or cotton ball. The more time you take on each step, the better the shine. Focus on the toe for the ultimate shine.

alt