How To Shine Boots?

If you want your old boots to look brand new again, you can try to buff and polish them. Continue reading this article to learn how to shine boots properly.

Do you have a lot of old boots that you do not use anymore? If so, we are on the same boat. I used to love these shoes, but over time, I neglected them. Now, I am tempted to throw them away because they just take up space in my room.

Fortunately, I did my research first and found out that there is a way to restore old boots. In this article, I will walk you through the proper way to shine boots. Simply follow these steps if you want your old footwear to look good as new.

I will also answer some of your frequently asked questions about shining boots. These include what you will need for polishing and how often you should shine boots.

So, without further ado, let us get on with the article!

What Creates A Mirror Shine?

FRYE Men's Smith Engineer Boot

Before shining your boots, it is important to understand the process of creating a mirror shine. This way, you can better grasp the topic and adjust your actions based on your results.

The first thing to know is that leather boots are filled with pits and pores. They may seem smooth to the naked eye but they actually feature an uneven surface. This jagged exterior can scatter light in different directions. Hence, they can create reflections that are not clear and ultimately make the surface matte.

Fortunately, hard waxes found in shoe polishes can fill in the pits to form a smoother layer over the leather grain. They can result in a glossy finish, which eventually creates clear reflections on the boot surface. The more hard wax you add, the clearer the reflections become. These reflections create an impression of sheen.

A mirror shine refers to boots that have achieved the perfect high gloss on their tips. In order to achieve this, you need to apply enough wax to fill up all the pits in the leather grains. Doing so can create a level surface layer of wax on the exterior. This way, you can ensure that the light will hit the boots evenly and reflect luster effectively.

What Do You Need to Polish Boots?

If you want to polish your boots, you will need to get a few handy tools. These include the following items:

  • Shoe polish
  • Shoe brush
  • Horsehair brush
  • Welt brush
  • Clean cloth or rag
  • Cup of warm water

You can use any brand of shoe polish. But if you want to ensure effectiveness, you can never go wrong with the old standard Kiwi wax polish.

As for the brushes, you will need two types. The first one is a larger shoe or buffing brush that can help buff the entire boot surface. The second type of brush should be small enough to reach hard-to-reach areas of the boots. These refer to the upper, sole, and around the eyelets. In case you cannot find a welt brush, you can also opt to use an old toothbrush. 

You will also need a polishing cotton cloth or rag. It is best to use microfiber towels for best results. However, it is perfectly fine to recycle old shirts or socks to get the job done. Just avoid using any piece of clothing that you might want to wear again. That is because you probably would not be able to remove the polish stains. 

Finally, get a cup of warm water before you start. This liquid can help distribute the wax polish or cream polish evenly for a beautiful sheen.

How to Shine Boots?

Now that you have everything you need, it is time to shine your boots. Read on below for the step-by-step instructions for polishing your boots.

Prepare the Boots

First things first, you should prepare to polish leather boots.

Start by removing the shoelaces from the boots. This way, you can easily access the entire surface of the shoe.

It is also best to insert a pair of shoe trees. If you do not have these shoe trees, you can simply stuff the toebox of the boots using any paper. Doing so can give you a firm surface to work on.

Finally, put down some newspapers in your work area. These can protect your floor or table because the process of shoe polishing can quickly get messy.

Clean Off Dirt from the Boots

Now that you have prepared your boots, it is time to clean their exterior surface. Try banging the boots together to remove any chunks of dirt or mud stuck on the sides or bottom of the shoes.

Then, you can grab a towel, an old shirt, and even a dirty pair of old socks. You can slightly wet them with water. Once damp, you can run them over the entire surface of the boots to remove any dirt and debris.

You can even use a toothbrush to reach corners and small spaces on the boot’s surface where the dirt might be stuck. 

It is essential to do this second step. If not, the dirt on your boots will cause the polish to spread unevenly. It can also result in permanent scratches to the leather if you are not careful. So, make sure to give your boots a good cleaning.

Apply the Polish

Once your boots are squeaky clean, you can proceed with applying the shoe polish.

Take your microfiber cloth and wrap it tightly over your index finger. Then, gather up a thick base coat of polish by making small circular motions. You can expect the wax polish to stick onto the towel easily due to friction. However, if you are using old polish, you might want to be patient because the material will take a little while to adhere to your cloth or towel.

If you already have enough amount of polishing wax or cream, you can now apply them to one part of your boot. Start at the toe box and work your way into every inch of the leather boots. It is best to rub the polish in small circles.

As for the layer of polish, you can stick with a single one if you want to achieve a subtle, clean look. Add several layers of polish for a more glossy shine.

Buff the Polish

Now that you’ve got several layers of polish on your boots, it is time to buff them.

In general, this step evens out the layers of polish that you have added. Hence, you can ensure that there are no dark spots on the leather boots.

Grab your horsehair brush to make even strokes across each side of the boots. There is no need to overthink this step. Five or six swipes at each boot part are enough to spread the shoe polish evenly. You can expect a nice sheen to come through after buffing the boots.

Wipe Away the Polish

The next step is to remove the polish from the boots.

To do this, get a clean rag or cloth. Rub it over the entire surface. You must also make sure to reach every part of the shoes.

Then, wait for a few minutes before moving on to the next step of shining your boots.

Spit Shine Your Boots

Once you wipe away the polish from the boots, it is time to get your shine on.

Grab a microfiber towel and dampen it with water. Then, use small circular motions to shine your boots. Start from the toe cap and continue to the rest of the shoes. You can expect a noticeable sheen after rubbing the towel 10 to 15 times on each part of the boots.

When it comes to shining boots, more water means more shine. With that said, avoid soaking your towel because you will not see any results. Instead, stick with a moderate amount. Then, simply add some more water later on if you want a more glossy look.

Finally, use the spit-shine finish. This method simply refers to the act of placing a droplet of water on the boots.

Dry and Re-lace the Boots

The last step on how to shine your boots is to let them dry completely. Leave the shoes in a cold and well-ventilated area, so they can quickly absorb the polish and water.

Once they are dry, you can proceed to insert their laces, which you removed earlier.

Now, you are done—you have successfully shone your boots.

How Often Should I Shine Boots?

It is recommended to polish and shine boots at least once every month. But if you are using these boots in harsh working conditions, you can consider polishing them twice a month or once every two weeks. Doing so can help protect the leather and avoid wear and tear. 

Can I Shine My Boots Without Polish?

If you have matte boots or shoes without a touch of sheen, it is very difficult to shine them without polish. But for those who have fairly polished leather boots, you can try applying canola oil to them. Doing so can give them a quick shine.


Believe it or not, you do not have to throw away old boots. You can make them look brand new again by applying polish and shining them. Besides a glossy surface, polishing boots can also help preserve the leather material of the boots.

Hopefully, this article about the polishing process helped you achieve the luster and protection you want.