My employer recently returned from a shooting weekend and informed me that many of his fellow guests had commented on how exceptionally smart and shiny his shoes were. I was delighted by the compliment.
For the average plain, black leather shoes with plain toecaps, or brogues, you’ll need a basin, a brush, a candle, a soft clean rag, a yellow duster and a well known brand of polish. I tend to use Kiwi because it is not too greasy.
I recommend working on one shoe at a time. First, remove the mud from the upper, sole and heel to prevent dirt soiling the shoe bag. If the mud is dried on, wet the shoe in cold – never hot or even warm – water. As soon as all the mud has been scrubbed off, you should start to polish immediately. Apply a dab of polish to the brush and wipe the arch area between the sole and the heel of the shoe underneath. This will protect the area. However, it is not necessary to brush the whole sole.
Add more polish to the brush and clean the welt – the strip sewn around the edge of the shoe upper and attached to the sole – all around the shoe. Brush the polish in thoroughly as it preserves the stitching. Then brush the upper. Wrap the rag around the index finger. Starting at the toe, spit on the shoe then rub in the spit with small circular movements. Working down the shoe, continue spitting and polishing, rubbing the spit into the polish.
Find a safe place and stand the candle on the inside lid of the can of shoe polish. Hold the shoe approximately 2in away from the flame and let the heat warm the polish all over the shoe, taking great care no to burn the shoe. Repeat the polish, with the small circular movement, the heating, again small circular movement, the polish, the same movement, the heating, the polish and so on at least four times each. Each time between the polish and the heating use the small circular movement with the rag and it should come up looking like glass.
It should be noted that brown shoes will finish up looking much darker and the candle should be avoided with tan coloured shoes. For these, simply spit and polish as above. The process takes about 20 minutes per pair of shoes.
Last Updated: March 9, 2013