How To Polish Boots (3 Step Guide)

Keen to learn how To Polish Boots?  

Fantastic, you have landed in the right place!

In this blog, we will show you:

  • How the polish affects the finish
  • Which brush to choose for which boot
  • Step by Step walkthrough
  • And So Much More!
How to Polish Work Boots

Why this guide about how to Polish Boots

At some point whether you work in an office, onsite or even as a weekend warrior doing DIY projects on your house, you have owned or worn a pair of boots.

Over time since most boots are made from genuine leather or a synthetic alternative. They gather dust and do not maintain the same level of shininess that you once remember when you initially removed them out of the box.

But the question will always then remain, how do I effectively polish my boots? Also how do I make sure that I polish them in a way that doesn’t damage the boot material and restores the the original shine?

No need to worry, I have created this guide to walk you through this process step by step. I’ll focus on what type of shoe shine and polish you should use, and the correct technique to ensure that your boot’s integrity remains intact.

Read More:>>> Sometimes you also need to remove paint from your boots. Learn how to in this guide

What You Need To Know About How To Polish Boots

Different types of shoe polish produce different results

Choosing the right type of shoe polish for boots can be a daunting task.

However, the good news is that each type has its advantages and applications.

  • To start, there is paste polish used more often on leather shoes due to its natural oil extracts,
  • wax polish used for daily conditioning and waterproofing,
  • liquid polish applied using the brush-on method with handy cloths designed specifically for liquid shoe polish and;
  • cream polish that provides long-lasting shine and color.
Different types of polish

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the pros and cons of each polish type

Paste Polish

Paste polish is generally considered as a “go-to” polish for quick low hassle results, when it comes to boot maintenance, however cautious consideration is warranted.

On the positive side, those new to polishing may find paste polish requires less time and effort to achieve a good shine compared to other types of polish.

An added benefit is that paste polish also does not contain synthetic ingredients.

When it comes to shoe polish, synthetic ingredients can be more of a hindrance than a help. These harsh chemicals can break down the natural fibers and leather of shoes over time, leading to fading colors and peeling surfaces.

Unfortunately, synthetic ingredients are also hard to identify, and many of them simply look just like the same harmless compounds that are common in perfectly good shoe polish.

I like to describe it like playing a game of whack-a-mole: you don't want synthetic polymers popping up where normal ones should be!

To avoid purchasing shoe polish with synthetic ingredients, simply read the label and make sure that it’s free of any unwanted artificial additives.

When it comes to the negatives, there are a few worth noting.

Paste polish often cannot provide the same depth of color and protection against dirt and water that more advanced formulas.

Additionally, important parts – such as the shoe's uppers near the welt – are not fully covered by paste polish applications.

So if you're looking for a quick, relatively hassle-free shine without all the bells and whistles, then paste polish is your best bet. But those seeking maximum deep-shine satisfaction may need to look elsewhere.

Read More:>>> Welders have heavy duty boots that need to be polished as well.

Wax Polish

Applying wax polish to boots can be a popular part of the boot-care routine, but it’s worth understanding the pros and cons of this approach.

On the plus side, wax can provide a protective layer that helps water-proof leather material and if you use a high quality wax polish, even provide a visually appealing finish.

However, since wax polishes can darken some leather finishes, be sure to test an inconspicuous area first before using on the whole boot.

Additionally, be prepared for more frequent applications because this type of polish can wear off easier than other polishes.

Liquid Polish

The primary benefit of using liquid polish is the ease of application - liquid doesn't require as much effort to rub into the leather material as traditional wax, which makes it a great option for those who just want to quickly spruce up their boots.

But if you will also often find which is my experience that liquid polish has less staying power than wax and needs to be applied more often.

This is especially the case if you will be wearing your boots in either wet or humid conditions

Cream Polish (my personal favourite)

Using cream polish to shine your boots is a classic way to revitalize leather, giving it a supple sheen and adding longevity to the lifespan of your boot.

Cream polish has its advantages and disadvantages, even though it’s my personal favourite out of all the polishes lets analyze them below. ,

I appreciate the finer touches, but if you use cream polish incorrectly, it can leave you feeling more embarrassed at the outcome.

I’ll give you an example, cream polishes typically require regular buffing to stay clean - otherwise they can make your boots appear grubby over time.

The reason this is the case, is because when you apply cream polish, the waxes and resins in the polish give your shoes great protection against the elements and make them look glossy and shiny. But to maintain this good shine you will need to regularly (2 or 3 times a week if you wear your boot every day) buff the boot.

What this does is that by buffing away dirt and getting a nice deep luster, your polished boots stay “looking” polished for longer. If you don’t do this after polish maintenance, dirt get’s easily trapped inside the resin or wax and bacteria over a long time can slowly eat away at the leather material.

On the positive note, cream polishes are easy to apply, have strong color tinting capabilities that can darken or add nuances of color to your favorite pair of leather shoes or boots, and provide an extra layer of waterproof sealant that is especially beneficial in wet climates.

Bringing it all together and understanding luster levels

The reason, I say cream polishes are best for me, is because in my experience - I feel that it provides the best balance when it comes to both moisture protection and shine, irrespective of the luster level of your boot.

This is a very important consideration because as you know, luster determines the amount of shine applied to the finish of your boots.

Shoes are manufactured with a preset luster level and you can choose from low luster which is great if you want your shoes to remain low key.

Alternatively, on the other hand, you could take things up a notch and choose high luster boots when you're looking for something that will stand out in a crowd, and really shine especially during the day.

Type of Brush you should use

When it comes to polishing boots, the type of brush you choose can make all the difference. Avoid just going for the cheapest option you find at your general convenience store. In some instances these brushes can actually do more harm than good.

For shining leather boots, natural bristled horsehair brushes are the preferred option.

The reasons are quite simple. They're tougher than nylon brushes, allowing you to really dig into tough creases and corners.

Natural bristled horsehair brushes are also the tried and true way to bring out the best in leather boots.

Not only is the course, durable hair able to reach into all of the grooved lines that may otherwise be difficult to shine with a cloth, but it also creates less static electricity so no tacky deposits can remain on your newly-polished boots.

Aside from being eco-friendly and good for the environment, horsehair is also affordable and long-lasting, ensuring that you can restore your boots back to good condition in a cost effective and timely manner.  

Of course your boot may be made from other materials such as vinyl or rubber. In this instance – synthetic bristled brushes are often the best choice.

These brushes can be powerful enough to break down caked-on debris, yet gentle enough to avoid damaging the vinyl or rubber.

To add onto that, they don't require a lot of force or elbow grease as you are brushing.

Read More:>>> In this article we debunk the myth if Doctor Martens are good enough for snow or not

Equipment You’ll Need To Properly Learn How To Polish Boots

In order to get your boots clean and polished effectively. You will require the equipment below.

  • Boot polish or wax of your choice
  • Brush or cloth
  • Water or leather conditioner (optional)
  • Rag or cotton cloth for buffing.

3 Step Guide On How To Polish Boots

Step 1: First off, choose a boot polish or wax of your choice and apply it to the entire surface of the boot.

Step 2: Using either a brush or cloth - whichever you have at hand - spread the product over the shoe in small circles until there is an even coverage.

Optional: if the leather is looking dry, you can use some water with a few drops of leather conditioner for extra nourishment.

Let the product sit on the boots for a minute before brushing off any residue with a damp rag.

Finding the sweet spot of how long polish should sit on your boots before brushing can be quite a balancing act! Too little time, and you can't brush out any residue. Too much time, however, and you'll create a thicker adhesive layer that's harder to remove.

My trick is to apply a light layer of polish, wait around 20-30 minutes then move onto the next step.

Step 3: Finally, buff and shine with your cotton rag and you should have a really good looking and sleek shine. Key is also to ensure that you operate in a well ventilated area

How to polish shoe

Extra Tips on How to Get Your Boots to Shine

Invest in a good quality leather protector and conditioning cream. This has really made the difference for me.

A good quality leather protector and conditioning cream not only helps keep the leather looking fresh and new, but it also prevents it from cracking, fading or becoming brittle with time. The protective layer of cream acts as a barrier against water, dirt and everyday wear and tear.

If you are like me and spend regular time outside, I would highly recommend that you look into.

Final Thoughts On How To Polish Boots

Polishing boots is more of an art form than a chore. I hope that this article has helped you to appreciate this more. It is very simple but preparation and having the correct brushes and polish are vital. Also depending on the method you decide to go with be mindful of after polish shoe care you will need to implement to extend the shine and life of your boots. All the best.

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale is a professional engineer (PrEng). With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale is a professional engineer (PrEng). With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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