There are some skills in life are incredibly useful and often come in handy: sewing, ironing, cooking, etc. One skill that sometimes gets overlooked is knowing how to properly polish and shine your dress shoes (although if you’re in the Military they really drill it into you). If you’re a real cobbler and shoe fanatic, there’s obviously a number of thorough steps to the process, but we wanted to break it down to a handful of steps that are easy to follow and will leave your shoes spotless.
- Horsehair Brush
- Leather Cleaner
- Leather Conditioner
- Shoe Polish
- Shoe Shining Cloth
Step 1: Brush
First thing you want to do is start with a clean slate. Grab your Horsehair Brush and go to town on your shoes. You want to remove any dust or grime that’s been caught in there and get it down to the bare leather. Sometimes people will use a rag or an old t-shirt, but we find that with the hairs of the brush you can really get in between the cracks and the fabric and get into those hard to reach places.
Step 2: Leather Cleaner
Once you’ve brushed off your shoes, it’s time to start the cleaning process. For this you’ll need a Shoe Shining Cloth and a bottle of Leather Cleaner. There are a lot of brands out there who make cleaner, but we trust our good friends over at Bickmore. Take one side of the cloth and apply the cleaner to it. Rub it into your shoes thoroughly covering the heel, the sides, and the toe.
Step 3: Conditioning
Once properly cleaned, it’s time to treat the leather with some conditioner. Also called Leather Lotion or Saddle Soap (from back in the day of cowboys!) this is one of the most important elements of shoe care. Leather is just like your skin, it needs to treated to maintain its soft feel. Leather Conditioner is the equivalent of using moisturizer in the shower.
Here you’ll take the other side of the cloth and apply the leather conditioner. Rub it in thoroughly just like you did in Step 2. You should ideally condition your shoes every time you look to polish them. Remember to wait and let the shoe dry for 10 minutes before going to the next step and polish them.
Step 4: Polish
To saturate that color you’ll need a classic tin of Shoe Polish and an Applicator Brush. We used Kiwi, as it’s probably the most common shoe polish brand. Here you’ll have to make sure you buy a polish that is identical or a suitable color to your dress shoe. With the right color, you’ll be able to restore any shoe back to when you first bought them. Apply the polish to the Applicator Brush and rub it into the surface of the shoe in a small circular fashion. Don’t be afraid to apply excessive amount of polish here, as the next step will take care it.
Step 5: Brush
Finally, take the Horse Hair Brush again and buff the shoe thoroughly for a clean shine and finish. This step will also remove any excess polish left over from the previous step.
And Voila! Your shoes are cleaned, conditioned, polished, and ready to go 🙂
Nick S. / The Guide