How to Shine Shoes

How to Shine Shoes

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
A well dressed man should have a clean shirt, pressed trousers, a haircut, and unscuffed shoes. It takes just a few minutes to shine them yourself, with little expense or effort.


  1. Gather your shoe shining supplies (see the Things You'll Need section below). Visit a drug store, a shoe store or shoe repair shop, and stock up. Buy liquid and wax shoe polish in the color of your shoes. Wax takes a bit longer to use, but it gives a much better finish and a higher shine.
  2. Brush the shoe briskly to remove any loose dirt.
  3. Apply the polish. If using the liquid shoe polish, glide it over the shoe. When using the can of wax polish, a puff is included inside the can for you to use. Apply the polish in circular motions till the shoe looks cloudy.
  4. Let the shoe dry.
  5. Brush the shoe with the larger brush in a side-to-side fast action. Make sure you shine the entire shoe, sides and back also.
  6. Buff the shoe with the soft cloth on the front in a brisk back and forth motion, until it shines. Do the same with the back of the shoe. The sides are more difficult, so use a brisk wiping motion with one hand instead. When both shoes are buffed, set them in front of you and see how nice they look.
  7. Put all your shoe shining supplies in one location, preferably in a box that holds them neatly together, so that everything's ready for the next time.
Spit Shine Method This uses polish, water, shoes, and a cotton t-shirt.
  1. Add a little bit of water to the cloth and clean the shoes of dirt and old polish residue.
  2. Apply a drop of water and a tap of polish to the rag and spread in a circular motion, evenly coating the dry shoe.
  3. Once the polish has been added, gently massage the shoe with a damp cloth.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 several times. Be sure to be gentle, and patient.


  • Another way you can shine shoes in a pinch is with a banana.
  • If you have many shoes of various colors, you might want to purchase neutral polish instead of investing in so many colors.
  • In between polishing the shoes, a quick brushing will restore the shine and remove the dust and grime that accumulates when walking.
  • Use the wax for a heavier shine, and in between the liquid will do. The wax preserves the shoes, and will not allow the rain to spot them.
  • You can achieve an even better shine with most waxes by applying them with a wet cotton ball or bit of cotton waste, squeezed almost dry. With the harder waxes (Kiwi, for example) an adequate finish can then be achieved with the brush alone. Softer ones require the buffing cloth and spit-shining--which really isn't worth the trouble once you've mastered the cotton ball method. On well-maintained shoes, a good shine can take as little as three or four minutes.
  • Use matching liquid shoe polish on the outside and upper soles of the shoes as well as the leather heels.
  • Shoe polishes contain alcohol. Leather is no different than your skin. If you put alcohol on it, the alcohol will dry it out and continual use will lead to cracking. There is more alcohol in liquid and hard waxes than in creme polishes, so use accordingly.
  • Polishes build up on leather (and may cause a haze to develop) so it is best to occasionally use a saddle soap and leather conditioner to clean the leather.
  • Silicone sponges used continually instead of polishes can build up and cause a haze to develop. Use only on trips or occasionally.


  • Shoe polish is messy, so put down some newspaper to protect the surface under your shoe shining effort
  • This technique is effective for basic good looking shoes, but for a real "hard" or "military" shine, using a brush and buffing cloth will actually make your shoes worse. A hard shine can only be achieved by spit-shining (more often water than spit as spit is bad for the polish) or fire shining.

Things You'll Need

  • Liquid or wax polish
  • Brush
  • Soft cloth
  • Storage box for supplies

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Shine Shoes. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


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