That polished appearance – the shoe maintenance guide

Picture of That polished appearance – the shoe maintenance guide
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.
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Spypro2 months ago

Hi. Can I use hand cream intend leather conditioner? Since i can not find any of the stuff u described on multiple locations.

TheLearnedGentleman (author)  Spypro2 months ago

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.

sconner12 months ago

And the Prince of Wales also has someone else do the polishing and doesn't wear the same pair of shoes every day.

TheLearnedGentleman (author)  sconner12 months ago
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.
scorp762 months ago

Nothing finishes off a good shine than a panty shot!

sconner1 scorp762 months ago

Agreed. You need some reward for your time and effort.

dscholten2 months ago
Great instructable! I always liked glossy shoes but this takes it to the next level. Many thanks!
veeguy2 months ago

Great instructable! If I ever buy a pair of shoes that require/allow polishing, I shall follow your instructions to a "T".

sathyakumar2 months ago
great steps to make the shoe new
mrkrmoore2 months ago

This an excellent set of directions on the proper way to achieve a high polish.!! Well Done..

When i was in the marine corp i became a master of the "spit shine " the trick was to use a tshirt and water and finish it with cotton balls and cold water.

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

LP22 months ago

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.

LP22 months ago

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.

ringdoby2 months ago
A tried and tested method, as used by the British Army:
alistair9083 months ago
It's also worth investing in Kiwi Polish and Parade Gloss, works best due to the natural enzymes / oils
rblee alistair9083 months ago


dodsonmrf3 months ago

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.

hammer98762 months ago

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.

leew19362 months ago

In the Marine Corps known as a spit shine

Having grown up in a shoe repair shop, I have a few comments.

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.

Foam rubber cut into small (1"x2"x2") works great for applying polish. Much better and smoother than a rag.

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.

craftyv2 months ago

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.

TheLearnedGentleman (author)  craftyv2 months ago

You are very kind. Many Thanks.

gtoal craftyv2 months ago

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.

danzo3212 months ago

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.

phenoptix2 months ago

Nice work you old Crook! ;)

General Zod3 months ago

Very classy, sir.....very classy.

3366carlos3 months ago

Attenhut! Sharp!

rblee3 months ago

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.

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 "burn" the shine in, like a lazy rupert...

Johnny J3 months ago
Red laces? You, Sir, are a spiv.
jessyratfink3 months ago

Dang! I had no idea polishing shoes was so involved. Now I know why mine have never looked this nice. :P

Great instructable!

TheLearnedGentleman (author)  jessyratfink3 months ago

Thanks - it takes a little time, but the results are worth it.


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