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.
<p>Good night. the finger tying thing is clever</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>Rotate your shoes? Do you mean one day you wear the left show on your right foot with your right shoe on your left foot? I've tried that a few times but that was usually as a result of excessive alcohol the previous evening.</p>
<p>Oxfords, not brogues.</p>
<p>Ah ! A King's Man I believe.</p>
<p>Thanks for your comment thermosinthesis. However, you are incorrect. </p><p>Brogues are shoes that have broguing (decoration of the uppers by using perforations of the leather). The Loakes in the article without question exhibit this decoration and are therefore classed as brogues.</p><p>However, they are also Oxfords. Oxfords are distinguished by the fact that the eyelet facings (the leather parts that the laces go through) are stitched underneath the vamp (the front part of the shoe). Oxfords are also sometimes called a &quot;closed front&quot;. The Loakes in the article also exhibit this and so are also Oxfords.</p><p>So perhaps instead of your beautifully eloquent comment stating &quot;Oxfords, not brogues&quot; you would have been better stating that they are Oxford AND Brogues. That little difference would turn you from being entirely ill informed to being correct.</p><p>Glad you enjoyed the intractable! </p>
<p>How often do you polish your shoes this way?</p>
<p>&quot;Cotton Wool&quot;?? Sounds like an oxymoron.</p>
<p>Having served 26 years in the U.S. Forces, 7.5 as a Marine and the balance as a para I am well versed in the art of shining shoes and boots. In an instance when I was holding a formation as the company First Sergeant one of my soldiers enquired as to if I were wearing Corfam jump boots at the formation. He rapidly learned he was in error and what he had said was not habit forming.</p><p>When I first enlisted the Marine Corps issued high quarters and combat boots of split hide with the rough side out. You began by shaving off the nubbies then you had to pack down the surface with polish then spit shine them.</p><p>For spit shining I use a well worn out cotton handkerchief which I wet and wring out to apply the polish. For a buffed shine I apply the wax with my fingers to use body and friction heat to smooth on the wax, set them aside for a bit then buff them .For a final gloss on buffed shoes I mist with a mini spray bottle of water then strop with a microfiber cloth. </p><p>Final note, use shoe trees of a proper size to take all the wrinkles out of the front of the shoe.</p><p>handkerccotton handkerchief well moistened with water then dipped in the polish.</p>
<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>It isn't so involved, unless you are making up for not polishing for a long time or obsessive compulsive. I respect people's right to present themselves any way they see fit but when I see someone who went to obsessive lengths to achieve excessive shine, it leads to the belief that it's a distraction from some shortcoming.</p><p>On the other hand, shabby shoes without good reason leads to the belief that there wasn't enough attention to detail. My point may be that there is a happy medium, to polish on a regular basis as needed instead of doing it less often but being obsessive when you do.</p>
<p>Thanks - it takes a little time, but the results are worth it. </p>
<p>This appears to be what I learned as the standard army shoe and ankle boot stripping and spit-polishing routine.</p>
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>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>

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