3 Methods For Polishing Your Leather Boots

Wondering how to polish leather boots? There are a few different methods. As the old saying goes, there's more than one way to pet a cat.

Yes, the actual saying is a little more ribald, but we try to keep things clean here.

Anyhow, let's go over three different methods, ranging from quick and easy to more labor-intensive. After all, if you invest in quality leather boots or shoes that you wear for other-than-work purposes, you want to keep up a good appearance.

So let's dive in.

The Quick Way To Polish Leather Boots

shiny leather boots

The quick method is easy, and will give your boots a decent appearance. However, it won't produce a high shine, which some people prefer. It's like...giving your car a quick 10-minute wash but not waxing it. Your car will be clean and look good, but not as good as it could with more time.

First, make sure your leather shoes or boots are clean and dry, including around the welt stitching.

Step One: put on polish of the appropriate color. You want a good uniform coat that's neither too thick nor too thin. Set them in a warm, dry place and go away for a while. You could wait an hour or two, or make it real easy on yourself and apply the polish before you go to bed.

Step two: use a polishing brush and give them a buff. This gets the excess polish off and smooths the surface so your boots or shoes look good. Again, it's not the high shine some people want, but it'll do in a pinch.

Another benefit of this method is that all the supplies you need are easily found in pretty much any store. We won't say what brand, but it's the name of a fruit as well as a small flightless bird that lives in New Zealand. And rhymes with pee-wee.

Boot Polishing Method 2: Getting A Shine On Your Leather Boots

oil for boot polishing

The second method for polishing leather boots and shoes can likewise be done with the same materials, but it's more labor intensive boot care. However, it will pay dividends in terms of appearance. If you aren't happy with anything less than a good shine, then this is the go-to for you.

Again, make sure your shoes or boots are clean and dry before proceeding.

The first step is to get a good, uniform layer of high quality polish onto your shoes. Don't be sparing, either; you need to get the leather coated.

The key to a good shine is build up a layer of polish. You don't "shine" the leather; that's impossible. Instead, you create a shine on the polish itself.

After you've applied the coat of polish, then buff away the excess with a polishing brush. You may need to apply a second coat to get a good, even distribution of polish across the surface. It's okay if you do, and in truth may actually be better.

When the excess is buffed away, get a soft, clean cloth. Dunk it in water and wring it thoroughly until almost dry; it needs to be damp but not soaked or sopping.

Put your index finger into the cloth, and then wrap it tightly around your finger. Grasp the cloth with your thumb and the rest of your fingers to pull it tight. Dab the cloth into the polish, getting a small dot of it on your fingertip.

Using a swirling motion, make your way around the entire shoe. You want to make small circles, less than a square inch in size. This creates a swirling effect on the polish at first, and then develops into a matte-like shine. If you make too large a circle, you won't get the desired effect, but too small and you'll be there all day. You'll get the feel for it rather quickly.

Then repeat on the other boot.

To get that shining toe-cap, use a dry lint-free soft cloth (a shoe shine chamois works well) and buff it. That gets you that nice shine on your boots. It takes a while - maybe an hour at most - but pays dividends.

Now for the full-court press.

Creamed, Buffed And Shined: The Intensive Shining Method For Leather Boots

boots with really good shine

However, if you want the utmost in shining leather boots or shoes…you need to invest in materials and be prepared to put in some time. To get and preserve a high mirror shine, you have to build up a substantial layer of polish to start with.

You need wax polish (see above; rhymes with Pee-Wee) AND cream polish, a few soft, clean chamois or other very soft cloths, a polishing brush, and it's also a good idea to get a spray bottle with flat water in it.

After ensuring the shoe is clean, apply a light coat of cream polish to the shoe in a swirling motion like we mentioned above. Get a good uniform coat, and let it dry. This seals up the pores and conditions the leather.

Lightly mist a chamois or other soft cloth - just a light spritz - and buff the cream polish. Let it dry.

Next, you apply the wax polish. You can use either a gloss or standard, whichever is your preference.

Take a clean chamois or other soft cloth, and give it a spritz with the spray bottle. Get a bit of polish on it, and start applying it to your shoes in a circular swirling motion. It should apply without resistance; once you feel any, lightly spritz with water and dab in the polish and start again.

Now, pay most of your attention to the heel and the toe cap. Excess polish will crack and flake off in areas where the boot or shoe flexes. Don't skip those areas, but just be aware that those areas need less attention.

Settle in, because you need to apply 3 to 5 coats of the wax finish in this manner. When you start to really notice the shine, that's when you're getting close to that mirror shine. If your shoes are new, you may need to do more.

And now for the end game:

When you start to notice a good matte shine on the toe cap and the heel, apply wax polish without adding any water to the cloth. Swirl it onto the shoe until you've got a good uniform coat on those areas, and then vigorously buff with a clean chamois or other soft cloth. This actually helps melt the top layer of polish with friction, and gets you that mirror shine that's so coveted.

Set aside an hour or two for this, because you can't rush it.