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How to Shine Leather Shoes in 4 Easy Steps

BY Buffalo Jackson Insight
BY Amanda Uher

Any time of year is a great time to wear leather shoes. But this time of year, they’re likely getting worn a LOT. Knowing how to shine leather shoes will go a long way toward keeping your favorites looking sharp. It’s easy to do it yourself, so grab your supplies and get to work.  


- Shoe brush

- Soft cloths (old t-shirts work great)

Leather cleaner

Leather conditioner

- Shoe polish


1. Clean

Using the shoe brush, brush off any dust or dirt from the shoes. If needed, use your leather cleaner to remove any remaining dirt or residue. Go ahead and remove the shoelaces at this time if your shoes have them.

2. Condition

When your leather shoes are clean, apply your leather conditioner with a soft cloth. Be sure to apply the conditioner on the cloth and not directly onto the leather -- a little bit goes a long way. Massage the conditioner into the leather in a small circular motion, section by section, so you don’t miss anything. After applying the conditioner, use a clean cloth to gently buff away any excess and allow to air dry (20-30 minutes). (Refer to this article for more info on how to use leather conditioner.)

3. Polish

Now that your shoes are clean and conditioned, they’re ready for shoe polish. Be sure to carefully match the color of your polish to the shoes you’re working on. (Also be sure to put down a towel or some newspapers for this step, as shoe polish can make a mess, and it’s notoriously difficult to get out of carpet.) 

Grab a clean, soft cloth and apply the shoe polish the same way you applied the conditioner: small, circular motions. And, like the conditioner, a little can go a long way. Start with one thin layer, and then look them over. If needed, go ahead and apply a second layer. Then, let them dry. (Another 20-ish minutes.)

4. Buff

Time to buff those leather shoes ‘till they shine. Use your shoe brush to vigorously buff your shoes -- this will work the polish into the leather while also removing excess polish. Then, wipe them down with a clean, soft cloth. 

There you have it. How to shine leather shoes. Not too bad, was it? And really, if you’re going to invest in a pair of quality leather shoes, it’s worth some elbow grease to protect your investment and keep them looking their best.

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How to use Leather Conditioner

DIY Leather Cleaner

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