Super Shine Your Boots




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In this Instructable, I will show you how to shine your military boots (or other fully leather boots) properly, so that you could see your own reflection in'Em ;).

After all, one's appearance at work is very important, and it says a lot about their personality and hygiene :-).

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Step 1: Tools and Materials

-A pair of disposable plastic gloves.

-A Thick cleaning brush ( for cleaning carpets ).

-Shoe polish (preferably KIWI brand).

-A shoe cleaning brush.

-A piece of thick nylon stockings.

-A piece of thin nylon stockings.

-Kiwi® Express Shine Sponges, Neutral (184000)

-A small piece of sponge.
-An old toothbrush.

-A rag or old piece of cloth.
-A lighter.

-A bucket of hot water.

-A square meter of plastic sheets ( to protect the floor from polish spilling ).

Step 2: Clean

With Hot water and the carpet cleaning brush, clean the shoes ( also the bottom sole ) from any dust or mud that they may be carrying.

Let them dry for 15-20 minutes.

Step 3: Polish

Heat the shoe polish can with the lighter, or on the stove if you are at home until the polish becomes liquid.

(don't spill on your skin, it hurts like hell, been there..)

With the old toothbrush, spread a generous layer of polish around the sides of the shoe ( on the cords where the sole is sewed onto the shoe-check the photo).

With the sponge, spread a generous layer of polish on the sides of the sole and on all the leather parts of the shoe except the top part where your pants might get in contact with the shoe.

Let it dry for 10-15 minutes.

Step 4: Clean Excess Polish

Clean excess polish with the shoe cleaning brush.

Don't push the brush too hard against the leather to avoid creating scratches.

Step 5: Brighten - 1st Run

With the thick nylon stocking, rub against the polish to even the layer out all around the shoe.

cover all the surfaces of the shoe 2 or 3 times.

rub with brute force.

Step 6: Brighten - 2nd Run

With the thin nylon stocking, rub again against the polish to bring out the shine.

cover all the surfaces of the shoe 2 or 3 times.

rub with medium force.

Step 7: Brighten - Last Run

With the Kiwi® Express Shine Sponges, Neutral (184000), squeeze the sponge to get some shine liquid on it, and rub the whole shoe.

Rub gently, do 2 layers.


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    16 Discussions


    2 years ago

    As a former Army DI, I advise using baby diapers. NOT DISPOSABLE. Get the nice soft cotton ones. Cleaning and redyeing are the first steps. Don't light or melt your polish (unless you haven't used it in a long time, and its dried and cracked). New polish is soft and goes on easy. You just have to put the diaper over your finger (or fingers), twist it so its tight, dip it in water, glop on some polish, rub it into your boots in small circles, when it starts getting rough feeling, more water and polish, keep going until you are satisfied with the shine. All you need are:

    1. Brush or green pad.

    2. Shoe Dye

    3. Polish

    4. Cotton Diaper

    5. Water (or spit, which is why its called a "spit shine")

    You don't need a shoe brush or the little round ones for the polish.


    3 years ago

    As a former member of God's chosen United States Marine Corps (just a little friendly inter-service rivalry) I can safely say "WHAT KIND OF CANDY BAR DID YOU USE TO SHINE THESE BOOTS, MAGGOT???!!!"
    In all seriousness, we cleaned our boots well with alcohol, coated them with 2 or 3 coats of black leather dye, buffing in between coats. THEN we started the spit-shine process. Some used melted polish, but I never found much difference between melting the polish and just using a fresh can. Nothing beats the smell of opening a new can of Kiwi. It's AMAZING I tell you.

    I think the key is to seal the pores of the leather, because it will absorb a good bit of polish before you can start to see the real shine.

    When you're done, nothing finishes it like using edge dressing on the soles.

    Just remember, four days to get an acceptable Marine Corps shine, and 11 seconds on the parade field to ruin it.

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    MartyK1, I got a kick out of your answer about the candy bar. When I saw the boots above and the person saying the awesome shine. One phrase leaped out of my memory banks! "You call that a shine? What the heck did you use, Hershey bars & steel wool?? :)

    I always used Kiwi and water, build it up & take the time to get the shine, then polish it off with Glo Coat brand liquid wax. Then you can get the shine the D.I. wanted, the shine where when he walked down the line, holding his hand at waist level and his fingers spread. He could count his fingers and he usually did. The shine above is laughable to say the least!!!


    Reply 3 years ago

    hehe,your comment reminded me of basic training days ???.
    I like your way of doing it,it s always good to learn different ways of doing this.
    by the way, these shoes are beaten down,i got them from a retired military..they re over 32 years old. as you can see in the photos,even after finishing them up,the right shoe just doesnt want to shine ?.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Yep, when they get old and wrinkled, it's a lot more difficult to get a really sparkling shine. Used to keep 2 pairs spit-shined and one buff-shined for field and rainy muddy days.


    3 years ago

    melting the polish, as others dangerous.
    having done polishing for Drum and Bugle corp. when I was younger. a few steps that could help is stripping the shoes with a green scrunge pad and a mild degreaser. then after it dries use a leather shoe dye. before putting polish on gives a great base for the polish.
    then use the steps above to shine.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    what you are talking about is "Boning" the leather. Many times the contractors for the military would get the cheapest leather for the shoes during the civil war and the soldiers would have to take the porous chicken bones to the tops of the shoes to get out nicks and burrs before they could redye and polish their shoes for inspection, hence the term "boning" up on means to work something out and make it better.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks.. never knew what its called..
    and I do remember it was some of the worst leather on the military boots..


    3 years ago

    I find the only difference with melting the polish is that it goes on easier. I have always just put a lighter to it and let it burn till its melted enough then just put the lid back on! fire goes out ready to use. OK this is not what i would recommend, just how have done it in the past. Some good pointers here to do it safer ;) Thanks


    3 years ago

    We call it ' bulling ' your boots in the British Armed Forces and the secret to a mirror finish is, just that a secret;) ! But I will tell you it involves bees wax, pure pure beeswax.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    I'm so glad i posted this Instructable because of all the feedback I'm getting on the different ways to do this.
    Thank you very much for your tip.
    I will try it next time I shine :)


    Reply 3 years ago

    and Marty K one has it right, only kiwi polish will do.


    3 years ago

    I've used saddle soap to clean boots. I'm not sure about some of the other cleaners folks say they're using here.


    3 years ago

    Shoe polish is highly flammable. I was a military firefighter for over 20 years and saw more than one person burned and barrarofires caused by melting polish. DON'T DO IT.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    there is a point where the polish starts s way after all of it become completely liquid and it burns like a candle not like kerosene.if it starts to burn, a small blow will put it s safe we ve been doing this technique for years here in the biggy.


    Reply 3 years ago

    In 87 I was placed on a shaving profile for a month in AIT because my roommate decided to try and blow out the flame i had going on my can of black, JUST as I was getting ready to blow. my whiskers always grew in white where I got the burns ever since then.