Polishing your shoes may seem to be an impossible and dirty task. But these simple ideas can help you ensure that you get a mirror-bright shine on your shoes every time.

  • Be sure that the polish (paste or liquid) is the same color as that of your shoes.

  • Clean off any mud, dirt, or dust with a dry or slightly dampened cloth, or if necessary, a brush.

  • Be sure to check the seam where the top leather or synthetic material of the shoe joins the sole and the lower portion of the heel. Sometimes small quantities of dirt will lodge there and they should be dislodged for best-looking results.

  • To prevent getting your hands stained with the polish, you may want to wear very thin surgical gloves. This will allow you to get good tactual feedback while avoiding getting the polish on your hands.
close up of man's hands as he puts on a surgical glove

Wearing surgical gloves, readily available at drugstores, will help keep your hands polish-free.

  • To help keep track of where you have applied polish, start where the leather or synthetic material joins the soles and heels and gradually work from the toe to the heel so you completely cover the areas to be polished in a systematic way. Be sure and apply polish around the stitch lines and scuffs so that there are no gaps.

  • For a very complete job, remove the laces, if there are any, to apply polish to the tongue.

  • Allow the polish to dry before buffing. Buff with a brush or soft cloth, rubbing vigorously. Finish with a shine cloth held tautly between your hands and moving back and forth quickly over the shoe. The warmth produced by vigorous activity with this cloth will slightly warm the polish, helping it to penetrate the surface of the shoe.
close up of man's hands applying polish to a black shoe using a bottle with a built-in foam applicator

A bottle with a built-in foam applicator makes it easy to apply polish to your shoes.

  • You may find it easier to use a shoe polish with a built-in foam applicator. This can cut down tremendously on the mess and the applicator moves easily around the shoe. All you have to do is shake the bottle (before taking the lid of the applicator off), take the lid off, and then apply. The polish is dispensed into the applicator in small quantities and will come out a little at a time as you apply pressure while systematically moving around the shoe.