How To Shine Shoes

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Shining shoes is not all that difficult and learning how to shine shoes can save you a lot of money! With a little practice, you can get really good at it!

How To Shine Shoes

We asked what our readers wanted to learn and many said “the basics”. One of those basics was how to shine shoes.

You have come to the right person to ask that question. The subject it is in my blood. My grandfather owned a shoe repair and shoe shine shop and my father is a retired Marine- talk about learning how to”spit shine” your  shoes at an early age. I think I was watching my dad shine his before I was even wearing them.

Having neat, clean and shiny shoes is the same to me as having clothes nicely ironed, whether it is for a job interview or in daily life. As much as we don’t think people should judge us by our appearance, people’s first impression of us usually relates to the way we look and this can determine how much respect we will receive. Why do you think top business men and FBI agents wear suits?

There are circumstances in life that might prevent us from keeping up with everything like regularly shining shoes, but do the best you can when you can.

Shining shoes is not really all that difficult. With a little practice, you can get really good at it so that it becomes a quick and easy habit!

How To Shine Shoes


These materials are found where the shoes are sold in most stores.


save money shining shoes

Polish – Start with neutral wax polish if you have many different colored shoes because it can be used on all colors. If you have all black or brown shoes, then buy black or brown.

Buffing cloth – You can buy special buffing cloths where they sell polish, but I just use a soft rag which has the feel of flannel (an old sweat sock or a t-shirt).

Rags or old cloths

Shoe brush



  • Work on newspaper because it could be messy.
  • With a slightly damp cloth, clean shoes of any mud or dirt. You can also use a brush to brush them.
  • Open the polish can and put 3-4 drops of water in the lid.
use a rag to polish shoes
  • Use a thick enough rag so the polish won’t seep through to your finger and stain it. Wrap it smoothly around your finger and dip into polish and dip slightly in water in the lid.

    If the polish comes with a sponge use that. If you plan on doing this all the time you can buy a small round brush used to apply the polish, this works best. I manage with just a rag but I do like this little brush. It is found with the other supplies.

  • Using a circular motion, rub polish on to the shoe moving around the shoe and re-dipping in wax and water as needed.
  • Set aside and let dry (about 15 minutes).
how to shine shoes
  • When dry brush briskly with shoe brush.
  • Buff briskly with soft cloth to shine.

Following these easy steps, you can learn to shine shoes in no time! As I mentioned, keeping your shoes shined will add to a more professional appearance. You will also save money by shining your own shoes instead of paying someone else to do it or buying new shoes when the ones you have still have lots of life in them.



  1. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    You brought back memories of my sailor husband polishing my uniform shoes, and my ironing his uniforms.

    I use panty hose to polish shoes to a spit shine. I also shine them the day before I wash my hair in case any polish works its way under my nails. Nothing like washing your hair to get the shoe polish off.

    I am incredulous that people need to be taught to shine shoes. I remember shining my shoes every Saturday night as a child to prepare for church. Remember the days when the places we went were speical enough to dress for them?

    • says

      I do remember those days. We dressed to the nines just to go to the kids school concert, church, even to the store we would change from our daily work clothes into something nicer to run to the grocery store. Always always we kept our shoes shined and clothes ironed.

      • Sheri says

        I still change from my daily home clothes to go shopping! I want to look nice whenever leave the house. I am still shocked at the people that go shopping or the DMV in pajamas and slippers! Really! I don’t get it…

        The iron is my friend.

        • says

          You’re a woman after my own hear Sheri. I love to iron too. I remember seeing a lady once going to a garage sale and she stood out to me because everyone was dressed in old faded clothes her in included but why she was so different was because she had neatly ironed her clothes. She looked so crisp, clean and neat compared to the others. I’m not knocking it if you can only afford faded old clothes the point I am trying to make is you can at least try the best you can to keep them clean and neat looking.

  2. carrotriver says

    In regards to shining shoes, I worked in a shoe repair for nearly ten years. I was taught to put emphasis on keeping/or putting back the natural oils in the leather.

    I have seen lots of polished shoes that were dry and cracked. I believe and continue to believe that feeding the leather is equally as important as just polishing.

    • says

      You are so right about keeping the natural oils in shoes. I’m not positive but I think liquid polish drys shoes out more then the other kinds.

  3. JAMES R. says

    I keep a steady supply of latex gloves in my shoebox, along with 3 cans of polish(black, brown & natural), 4 different brushes, 3 daubers(1 for each color), and 3 toothbrushes for the tiny nooks & crannies that are on some shoes…

    Wing tips are the worse as far as getting a great shine, and not leaving clumps of polish behind.

    U.S.Army taught me how to shine shoes. 8 – )

  4. donna b says

    believe it or not, helping my dad shine his shoes as a child was our quality time, LOL! Also, when I went to parochial school, I had to polish the UGLIEST green oxfords this world has ever seen!, those uniform shoes were hideous!

  5. grizzly bear mom says

    I have to disagree. The iron is on the devil. My clothes don’t get wrinkly unless I don’t hang them up and I would never consider that. I saw up all of my ironing until I have nothing left to wear, and then I iron for an hour or 3.

    As for liquid polish, it doesn’t have any oil or wax in it to keep your shoes supple so they crack. Use the polish kid. Also, polish “stains” if it gets under your nails. Polish shoes the day before you hand wash dishes or wash your hair. Save time by polishing all of your shoes at once.

    As a girl I would “get ready for Sunday School” Saturday night by washing my patent leather shoes off with a wet rag and rubbing petroleum jelly on them.

  6. Mary Ellen says

    I still shine shoes – Mine and my husbands. That was my job as a kid growing up – shining my Dad’s dress shoes. Shining shoes is one big thing that stretches the budget. Our shoes still look nice after a long time.

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