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First, make sure you cover the area you are working in. Polishing your shoes can get messy.
Choosing the right polish is important, polish comes in cream, wax and liquid forms. Waxes and creams tend to be heavier so work really well for leather shoes and they sink in better. Liquid polishes are good for a quick and easy shine
Remember that shoe polishes come in a variety of colours. Its best to pick the one that suits your shoes best, or a neutral colour that will work on different colours
If you have a polishing kit then great, you should have all the right equipment you need. Otherwise and old T-Shirt or cotton cloth plus a toothbrush will do the job too.
If you want to go the full hog then get your hands on a horse hair brush. This is the best brush to get the shine into your old shoes.
Storing your shoes
How you store your shoes can also help keep them in good condition and of course make them last longer. So as a general rule of thumb we have compiled a list of shoe storage hacks for you to take note.
Leathers– When it comes to your leathers, it’s best to keep your leather shoes stored in shoe bags. This way they won’t scratch, they’re safe from dust and kept away from light that can damage leather. Also, plastic bags ensure that your leather shoes retain their moisture preventing them from drying out.
Suede– Suede shoes are best stored out in the open where they can get fresh air as unlike other types of shoes, suede shoes need air so they can breathe.
Trainers – The best way to store your sports shoes and trainers is to keep them stuffed with paper or acid-free newspaper to help them keep their shape and absorb any excess sweat. Be careful of using paper with prints/text on them so that the ink doesn’t transfer onto your shoes.
A good shoe polishing technique will not only make your shoes look great, it will also extend their life. Learning how to polish your own shoes will give you a great sense of satisfaction and save you a lot of money over the years. Shoe polishing is very easy to do, once you have the right materials and a little patience.
Gathering the Right Materials
Choose your polish. Shoe polishes are available in wax, cream and liquid forms. Waxes and creams are heavier and will feed the leather and protect the shoes from water damage. Liquid polishes are good for a quick and easy shine. Shoe polishes are available in a variety of colors -- you can buy specific shades to match the shoes you wish to polish, or you can buy a neutral polish which will work on a variety of shoe colors.
Decide whether to use a polishing brush or an old t-shirt. You have a couple of options when it comes to applying your polish. Most people just use an old cotton t-shirt or other soft rag, however it is also possible to get specific polishing brushes with stiff, short bristles. These brushes are included in most shoe polishing kits, which you may choose to invest in. You will also need an old toothbrush or some q-tips to works the polish into hard-to-reach areas.
Get your hands on a horsehair brush. A good horsehair shoe shining brush is the one essential tool you need to properly polish your shoes. It has longer, softer bristles than the polishing brush described above. It is used to brush excess polish from the shoes and to really work the remaining polish into the leather.
Find a soft, lint-free cloth. If you want to add a shiny finish to your polished shoes, you will need to get your hands on a chamois, which is a type of soft leather cloth. Alternatively, you can use any soft, lint-free cloth, such as an old cotton t-shirt.
Cover your work space with newspaper. Polishing shoes is a messy job, so protect your floor and furniture by laying down some old newspaper on your work area. You could also use brown paper bags.
Applying the Polish
Clean the shoes. Before you begin polishing, it is important that you first clean your shoes to remove any built up dirt, salt or dust. Otherwise the dirt could get trapped beneath the polish or scratch the surface of the shoes. Brush the shoe vigorously with your horsehair brush to remove any debris.
Alternatively, use a dampened cloth to wipe all around the surface of the shoe. Just leave the shoes to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
At this point, you may also want to remove the laces from your shoes. This will give you easier access to the tongue of the shoe and will prevent any polish from getting on the laces.
Apply the polish using small circular motions. Dip the old t-shirt or polishing brush into your chosen polish and work it into the surface of the shoe, using small circular motions. Apply a medium pressure and make sure to coat the surface evenly, paying special attention to the toe and heel which get the most wear.
The easiest way to use an old t-shirt is to wrap the material tightly around your index and middle fingers and use them to work the polish into the shoes.
Use a toothbrush or q-tip to work the polish into the hard-to-reach places, such as the edge of the upper and the cracks in the tongue.
You may also want to apply polish to the sole of each shoe, in the space between the toe and heel which doesn't touch the ground.
Allow the polish to dry and add additional layers, if necessary. Once you have applied polish to the first shoe, set it aside on the newspaper and begin working on the second shoe. Each shoe will require about 15 to 20 minutes drying time.
If you feel like your shoes require another layer of polish, apply this second layer using the same technique as above.
Remember to use the minimum amount of polish necessary to cover the shoe. It is better to build-up multiple light layers than apply a single thick layer.
Brush off the excess polish. Once any additional layers of polish have dried, grab your horsehair brush and remove the excess polish using short, quick strokes. Don't be afraid to put some elbow grease into it -- the heat generated from the vigorous brush strokes helps the polish to sink into the leather.
Most of the movement involved in these strokes should come from your wrist. Keep the rest of your arm stationary while your wrist quickly flicks the brush back and forth.
Make sure to evenly brush the surface of both shoes. When you are done, the shoes should have an even finish with a slight shine. If super shiny shoes are not your thing, you can stop here.
Shining the Shoes
Buff the shoes with a soft cloth. The easiest way to add shine to your shoes is to use a soft cloth -- such as a chamois or an old cotton t-shirt -- to buff the shoes. Place one hand on either end of the cloth and work it across the shoe in a brisk side-to side motion.
Some people like to breath on the shoe (as if fogging a mirror) before buffing to increase shine.
If you like, you can place the first shoe on a shoe butler (or on your foot) to make this process easier.
Use the spit-shine method. Spit shining is a method used in the military to achieve a hard shine. After you have applied the first layer of polish, spray a little water onto the shoes and work it into the surface of the shoe. Then dip the cloth in warm water and use it to apply a second layer of polish.
Keep repeating this process until you achieve the desired level of shine. Just make sure that you let each layer of polish dry fully before applying the next.
Spit shining can be done using a soft cloth or a number of cotton balls.
Try fire shining. Fire shining is a fun, if slightly dangerous, method of shining shoes. It involves lighting the shoe polish on fire for a couple of seconds, until it becomes melted and gooey. This melted polish is then applied to the shoes using the same technique as spit shining.
Once you have applied several layers of the melted polish, you can take the fire play once step further by using your lighter to evenly heat the polish on the surface of the shoe, until it melts and achieves a wet look.
Do not let the flame actually touch the shoe and move the lighter constantly, as if spray painting. Once the polish has evenly melted, allow it to dry.
Apply one final layer of polish, then buff the shoes with a soft cloth to achieve a high-glass shine.
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