It is said that you only have 7 seconds to make a first impression. One thing is for sure and that is that there is no second chance to make one. So don’t let anything hinder the making of a good first impression… especially anything as easy to avoid as scruffy shoes!

Not only will a well maintained pair of shoes look smart and give you that polished appearance (no apologies for the pun) but their lifespan will be greatly improved. I heard that HRH The Prince Of Wales wears a pair of John Lobb Oxfords that he’s had since the early 70’s – something that is only achievable by good shoe maintenance.

So, how should we go about maintaining our shoes?

I have an old pair of Loake Oban leather demi-brogues that are in desperate need of a little bit of love. Fantastic shoes they are and have posed excellent value. However this pair have, I hate to admit it, been slightly abused. They are approaching a decade old and have been resoled once or twice and the uppers have seen better days. But not to worry, that makes them the ideal pair of shoes to demonstrate how we can polish some life back into a pair of slightly neglected shoes.

The process does take some time but the results are worth every bit of time spent and the whole process is both relaxing and rewarding.

First of all the shoes are dry which is essential before a clean and polish. In order to maintain a happy household it is essential to lay out newspaper on the surface that you are polishing your shoes on. My mother was never impressed when I’d polish my shoes on the dining table as a small boy, so learn from my experience and lay out a newspaper. My recommendation is to use the Financial Times but the Telegraph will do.

Step 1:

The shoes are not particularly dirty. I see shoes in a worse state on the feet of chaps in the office, but you can see that they are by no means highly polished. They have been polished regularly over the years but have layer upon layer of old polish on the surface and could do with a good feed.

The first thing to do is to get a good shoe brush and brush all the dirt off the shoe. If they needed more than just a brush to remove the dirt I would wipe them with a moistened cloth to remove the dirt and then leave them to fully dry before moving to the next stage.

Next, I want to remove all of the old polish. Now, this might seem a little scary, but bare with me… I remove the old polish with some acetone (nail polish remover) soaked on some cotton wool pads. You can find this easily in the medicine cabinet of your girlfriend, wife or mistress.
I'm so glad I saw this today or my CCF boots would've gone unpolished :o shock horror! but the tip about wax wasn't something I'd thought of before and it really made a difference! thank you :)
<p>Thank you so much! My shoes look great now!</p>
<p>Indeed they do. Any gentleman would be proud to wear those! Glad you found the instruct able useful. Don't forget to visit my blog at TheLearnedGentleman.com</p>
<p>Great instructable. I've been wondering why I could never get the finish I wanted from regular polishing. Also, love the Omega watch. </p>
<p>Thanks pickingrin. That's very kind. Glad you enjoyed the article.</p>
<p>Having grown up in a shoe repair shop, I have a few comments.</p><p>First off, there is no need to wipe the shoes off with acetone first. When you do this, you are actually removing some of the dye in the leather as well, which is a bad thing, and the acetone can dry out the leather.</p><p>Foam rubber cut into small (1&quot;x2&quot;x2&quot;) works great for applying polish. Much better and smoother than a rag.</p><p>I also suggest staying away fro Kiwi products. They really are the worst on the market. Basically anything you can buy at a grocery store, don't use. Especially liquid polishes/dies. Meltonian is a good brand that can be found easily.</p>
<p>How would you suggest to remove old wax? i have always struggled with this, it gives a very rag-ish look to the shoe.</p>
<p>You shouldn't need to remove anything. If you have a build up of wax, you are using too much or are not properly buffing the shoes off after applying the wax. What product are you using?</p>
<p>There is certainly no need to do the removal process very often. But over years there can be a build up of wax, especially if doing the mirror shine steps (the objective of the mirror shine is to build up a layer of wax). </p>
<p>The exact product you have asked not to use... KIWI. :)</p><p>That's most easily available product here.</p><p>I probably am using too much of wax i feel.</p>
<p>great article. I am a big shoe shiner I also made an instuctable on the subject but I must say yours is better. Those shoe with the orange lace highlight although not classic are just amazing. Great work with the captain bar lace pattern as well, military background?</p>
<p>That is very kind of you mbecks. No military background, but I like things done with military precision.</p>
<p>Hi. Can I use hand cream intend leather conditioner? Since i can not find any of the stuff u described on multiple locations.</p>
<p>I would not recommend using hand cream. Leather balsam is pretty easy to find, I find that most supermarkets stock it. You can probably find it online fairly easily to.</p>
<p>And the Prince of Wales also has someone else do the polishing and doesn't wear the same pair of shoes every day.</p>
You raise a good point here... wearing the same shoes every day is not advised. You should rotate your shoes to wear them at most on alternate days to allow them to dry completely.
<p>Nothing finishes off a good shine than a panty shot!</p>
<p>Agreed. You need some reward for your time and effort.</p>
Great instructable! I always liked glossy shoes but this takes it to the next level. Many thanks!
<p>Great instructable! If I ever buy a pair of shoes that require/allow polishing, I shall follow your instructions to a &quot;T&quot;.</p>
great steps to make the shoe new
<p>This an excellent set of directions on the proper way to achieve a high polish.!! Well Done..</p>
<p>When i was in the marine corp i became a master of the &quot;spit shine &quot; the trick was to use a tshirt and water and finish it with cotton balls and cold water. </p><p>I remembered from polishing stones that the harder the stone was, the brighter the polish that could be achieved. So i put my shoes into the freezer and in the morning when i went to polish them, i was simply amazed at the deep mirror finish that was easily acheived. I founnd that i could rub some shoe polish on at night and acheive a very bright polish just by hitting them with a soft brush! Semper fi </p>
<p>Love it ! Thanks for posting Brings back memories. If you could not shave with them, you were not done. I agree with alistair908 Kiwi Polish is the best, we did not have Parade polish when I was in. But I have used it. Some cheated and used Amway got caught and had to strip down and restart. Nothing beats time and elbow grease.</p>
<p>Love it ! If you could not shave with them, you were not done. I agree with alistair908 Kiwi Polish is the best, we did not have Parade polish when I was in. But I have used it. Some cheated and used Amway got caught and had to strip down and restart. Nothing beats time and elbow grease.</p>
A tried and tested method, as used by the British Army:<br>http://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/Bulling_Boots
It's also worth investing in Kiwi Polish and Parade Gloss, works best due to the natural enzymes / oils
<p>Try alternating layers of black parade gloss and ox blood parade gloss. Will give a deep shine. Also apply the last layer with a wet cotton wool pad for a mirror finish.</p>
<p>I think I have an inkling of what all those people do in horse barns - polishing the leather harnesses and saddles. Thanks for the insight. </p>
<p>In the Marine Corps known as a spit shine</p>
<p>I loved it and your tongue in cheek style. My father was a Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) in the British Army so I know exactly how it's done and how particular he was both for himself and his men. Great stuff. </p>
<p>You are very kind. Many Thanks.</p>
<p>I know the type. If our RSM caught anyone using Install Bull on their shoes instead of doing it the hard way, there was hell to pay.</p>
<p>Are you sure polish adds up in thickness? Always thought new polish dissolved the last coat. Your gf's acetone bottle is like one ounce, and she won't appreciate it all getting used up. </p>
<p>Nice work you old Crook! ;)</p>
<p>Very classy, sir.....very classy.</p>
<p>Attenhut! Sharp!</p>
<p>It's worth pointing out that you should perform step 6 onwards on every pair of black leather shoes and boots you every buy, before you wear them. It works well on motorcycle panniers too, although you should start at step 5 and be sure to do it every year, without fail. Harley Davidson sell some excellent leather maintenance products.</p><p>Also, never use any of the silicone waterproofing products (including HD's), as it blocks the pores and you won't be able to to polish them properly again - You might as well &quot;burn&quot; the shine in, like a lazy rupert...</p>
Red laces? You, Sir, are a spiv.
<p>Dang! I had no idea polishing shoes was so involved. Now I know why mine have never looked this nice. :P</p><p>Great instructable!</p>
<p>Thanks - it takes a little time, but the results are worth it. </p>

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