Shoeshine stands were once prevalent in barbershops, train stations and city street corners. Finding someone to shine your shoes is much more difficult these days, but you can keep your footwear looking top-notch with a DIY shine. All you need are the proper tools, the best shoe polish, a bit of elbow grease and a little know-how.
Benefits Of Shining Your Shoes
Americans spend an average of $419 on shoes each year. Cleaning and polishing your footwear is an effective way to get the most out of your investment.
The shine looks great, but it can also help leather shoes last longer. The best shoe polish will moisturize and waterproof the material.
Removing scuffs and scratches helps your wardrobe look more put-together and polished. And if you love shopping at secondhand stores, yard sales or consignment shops, you can revitalize a well-loved but otherwise sturdy pair of shoes. As a result, you get like-new footwear at a fraction of the cost.
Choosing The Best Shoe Polish And Tools
Before you can get busy cleaning, buffing and polishing your shoes, you need the right equipment. You need a shoe brush, a cleaning rag, leather cleaner, leather conditioner and shoe polish. You might want a special polishing brush as well.
Look for a medium-hard, round shoe brush made of horsehair. It should be pretty stiff but still manageable. You can use it to brush the dirt off of leather or suede shoes, remove excess cream and build shine.
Microfiber cloths work well to clean and polish without leaving lint or marks. Squares of old cotton T-shirts also work well. Leather conditioner softens and shines dry, rough leather.
Stanley Mayes, founder and co-owner of Washington, DC, shoe-care shop A Divine Shine, says you should clean dull or flaking shoes with solvent.
“Once in a while, it’s important to use a cleaner to strip off the layers of polish (that will often have dirt and other contaminants caked in it) that have accumulated so that the shoe can accept new polish and moisturizer,” Mayes told the New York Times.
And the best shoe polish will contain quality waxes, such as carnauba and beeswax, oils like shea butter and color pigments. Look for a polish close to the color of your shoes that is also easy to apply.
How To Shine Your Shoes Properly
Before you begin shining your shoes, prepare your work area by spreading out an old towel or some newspaper. Then, use the shoe brush to clean off dirt and dust. You can dampen your rag and wipe the dirt away for stubborn soil, but let the shoes dry completely before moving on.
Next, apply the conditioner. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. Generally, you will dab it around the shoe and then rub it into the leather with a cloth.
Finally, apply just enough shoe polish to cover the surface of the footwear. Avoid caking it on. Buff with a polishing brush or a clean cloth, starting at the toe and working toward the heel. Once you have finished, polish the shoe a second time for a gleaming shine you’ll be proud to wear.
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