How to polish boots? How does polishing work? And how to polish shoes to a mirror shine? Tips for maintaining boots?

No matter how good its quality is, a pair of shoes can still lose its beauty without proper care and storage. People with shoes that shine, like leather dress shoes or even military boots, will understand this. A well-shined pair of leather shoes can tell a lot about the person wearing them, such as you are a neat, thorough, and reliable individual.

Have you ever asked yourself: How to polish boots? If you want your shoes to be spotless, shine like a mirror, and can maintain that shine for a long time, then we have just the right polish tutorial for you.

How Does Polishing Work?

Leather is made by tanning animal rawhide and skins. It has many pits and pores on the surface, forming natural leather grain, making the material look matte. To achieve a glossy appeal, we apply hard waxes that fill in those pores and create a smooth, level layer on top.

When we apply the wax, we must use a soft cotton cloth instead of a stiff brush which can scratch and damage our leather. 

Wax polishes are usually soft since it is added a little bit of solvent like turpentine to keep it mold-able. If exposed to the air, a thin coat of wax will harden in a short while. Polish wax must be applied gradually, layer after layer, to create a clear, mirror shine appeal.

Waiting for the previous layer to dry and harden completely is very important to prevent the wax from becoming opaque and cloudy. There is no shortcut to achieving that high gloss shoe polish, and haste is sure to ruin the effort. Therefore, you must be patient while polishing your shoes.

How To Polish Boots: An Ultimate Guide

There no shortcut to achieving that high gloss shoe polishSource: Lina Verovaya

Things You Need To Get Started

Other than the pair of shoes that you’re about to work with, you’ll need the followings:

  • A polishing cloth or cotton pads (or any piece of cloth that is 100% cotton)
  • High-quality shoe polish
  • Leather cleaner
  • A bit of water
  • Alcohol
  • Paint stripper 
  • Leather conditioner for leather dressing shoes
  • Shoe tree if you want your work to be easier

And some newspapers to not stain your floor in the process.

two person standing wearing black loafers

A well-shined pair of leather shoes represents the person wearing itSource: Max Liao

How To Polish Boots? 

Now, you’re ready to learn how to polish shoes to a mirror shine.

1. Get Your Polishing ‘Tools’ Ready

You may want to lay some sheets of newspaper down on the floor because shoe polishing can get pretty messy, so better be safe than sorry.

Make sure that you have everything you need on the spot. Now, pick up your shoes and remove the shoelaces because you’ll have to polish the whole surface, and you don’t want that wax to stain them.  If you have your shoe trees with you, put them inside the shoes. They are the things placed inside a shoe to protect its shape.

2. Clean Your Shoes 

Grab yourself a brush made of horsehair and brush the dust off your shoes. Wipe carefully using a damp rag to make sure your shoes are clean. Next, you want to remove all the existing wax layer on the surface using a leather cleaner and a rag. Repeat the process until the leather grain becomes visible. Your dress shoes, those for a formal or smart-casual event, will thank you for this step.

3. Apply Leather Conditioner If Necessary

In many cases, the leather will lose its essential oils after stripping. If it’s a pair of leather dress shoes you’re working with, then apply some leather conditioner. 

4. Apply A Base Coat 

Apply a generous amount of polish with the same brush in a quick circular motion to spread it evenly on the shoes’ surface. Let it sit for 30 minutes minimum to dry. After that, brush the coat gently and quickly.

5. Apply Extra Coats On The Toe Cap Area

You should be done after approximately ten coats (or three coats if you use a harder kind of wax such as Saphir Medaille d’Or Mirror Gloss). You can move to the next step once the leather grain fades away.

Apply Extra Coats On The Toe Cap Area

Use the right wax and brushes to polish your bootsSource Lina Verovaya

6. Water Shine The Toe Cap Area

Pick up the wax: Secure a clean cotton cloth around your index. Wet the fingertip with 1-2 water drops, then get a tiny amount of wax there (that should dry in less than a minute).

Apply the wax: Using gentle, fast circular motions to add a thin layer of wax. Work with that until it hardens. You’ll see the surface turns matte and cloudy. Please don’t freak out; it supposes to be like that.

Working/buffing the wax: Add a drop of water and continue to work in a circular motion. When there is too much friction, you can add more water to it. Then, the matte and cloudy surface will disappear at let out a mirror shine.

Now, let that layer dry and harden completely (After about 10-15 minutes)

Repeat the three steps above until you’re satisfied with the gloss.

7. Rub On Alcohol

You can make that cap even shinier with just a tiny drop of rubbing alcohol. Wrap your index in cloth, drop on the alcohol and run your fingertip in circles through the surface. The top layer will dissolve just slightly and show its mirror shine.

Tips For Maintaining That Mirror Shine

  • Avoid heat that can soften the wax.
  • Use a special wax-like Saphir Medaille d’Or Mirror Gloss to make the mirror shine more rigid and durable. 
  • After each wear, use a gentle cleanser and remove the dusty top wax coating. Redo step 6 to refine the shiny mirror layer.

Leather shoes would be thankful if their owners polish them to the finest. Take out your boots and polish them well. You look so classic in those mirror-shine shoes.

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By Emmanuel Davies

Emmanuel Davies has dedicated the most part of his career to education. In early 2020, he joined JobandEdu as a career advisor writer, where he writes about career overview, job advice, workplace culture. Previously, Davies worked as the Educational and Career Advisor at various institutions and organizations. Hence, he desires to share his experience and advice to everyone through writing.

5 thoughts on “How To Polish Boots: An Ultimate Guide”
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