How to Polish Shoes in 4 Easy Steps


(Image credit: Szymon Brzoska - The Style Stalker)

From muddy sidewalks to communal floors, footwear tends to experience the worst of the elements. Even when shoes are particularly well-made (and sometimes especially then), they seem to magnetically attract scuff marks, dirt, and all manner of grime. Fortunately, returning your most cherished pair of shoes to their original splendor may be easier than you think. With just a few spare minutes and a handful of simple ingredients, you’ll have your favorite pair back on track in no time. Here’s how to polish shoes in just four easy steps.

1. Gather Your Supplies


(Image credit: Szymon Brzoska/The Style Stalker)

The first step in polishing shoes is to gather a few simple supplies. These can be found at most specialty shoe shops as well as online. Here’s what you’ll need:

Shoe polish. This can be purchased for just a few dollars at your local store, but if you’re looking for the best of the best, Kiwi Shoe Polish has over 700 positive reviews on Amazon.

A shoe brush. These come in a range of sizes and tend to be fairly inexpensive. Opting for a smaller shoe brush can help improve results, especially when working with heeled or textured shoes.

A soft cloth. A dedicated cloth for shoe polishing can be a nice addition to your routine, but no need to go overboard—just be sure to steer clear of rough fabrics and heavy dyes.

2. Remove Excess Debris


(Image credit: Szymon Brzoska/The Style Stalker)

Start by using your brush or a damp cloth to remove any excess dirt or dust from the surface of the shoes. If you opt for the damp cloth, be sure to allow your shoes to dry before proceeding to the next step.

3. Polish


(Image credit: Szymon Brzoska/The Style Stalker)

Using just a touch of polish (a little goes a long way), gently apply the polish to the surface of your shoe using the brush. Polish your shoes one at a time by working in small circles, and avoid pressing too aggressively into the leather. Feel free to add more polish as needed. Once you’ve covered the full surface area of the shoes, use the brush to make sure that all excess polish has been completely removed.

4. Buff


(Image credit: Szymon Brzoska/The Style Stalker)

For that brilliant good-as-new shine, one of the most important last steps in polishing shoes is to thoroughly buff them. Use your soft cloth, taking special care to focus on the heel and toe, which are the areas that tend to catch the most light.

Now, shop some of our favorite shoes:

While you’re putting a bit of shine back into your wardrobe, keep reading to learn how to clean patent leather in just a few easy steps.

This story was published at an earlier date and has been recently updated.