The Ultimate How-To Guide For Polishing Your Boots

Everyone loves the shiny, luxurious look of a freshly polished boot. But while shoe-shining stations used to be a common commodity, you’d be hard-pressed to find one in a pinch today (unless you happen to live in an airport terminal).

The good news is that you can learn how to polish boots like a pro right from the comfort of your home. This method is not only uber convenient, but it’s incredibly cost-effective, too. 

Want to learn how to shine boots until they positively sparkle? Read on for all the strategies you need to make your favorite pair of trusty boots look as good as they did the day you first bought them—if not better. 


Understanding the Importance of Boot Polishing

The beauty of a good boot lies in its functionality. Boots are robust footwear staples that are meant to help you maintain optimal comfort even if you have to be on your feet for a good while. They’re also known for being robust shoes that stand the test of time. 

But sometimes, all the work and responsibility we put on our boots can end up dulling their shine.

However, a little routine wear and tear is nothing to worry about with boot polish. A quality shoe shine can quickly breathe life into any pair of boots. 

After all, boots are about more than just function: they’re about fashion, too. You can help your boots look their best by keeping them in top shape with a polish every few months—or as often as you need a little shape-up.

The process of shoe polishing serves to: 

  1. Remove built-up dirt and grime from boots
  2. Keep your shoes in better shape for longer
  3. Retain the shape and integrity of your boot
  4. Restore a shiny glow to your shoes
  5. Add an extra layer of protection 

With all these benefits in store, the simple process of polishing your shoes is well worth your time and energy.


Step-by-Step Guide: How to Polish Your Boots

Here’s all the main gear you’ll need to start polishing your shoes at home: 

  • Some old newspaper
  • A shoe brush with bristles
  • A clean microfiber cloth or towel
  • Shoe polish 
  • Warm water

When you’ve gathered all these materials and you’re ready to go, follow these tried-and-true procedures to achieve a beautiful boot shine: 

  1. Prepare your boots for polishing – Start by removing the laces from your boots. Laces are typically made from soft fabric that won’t take well to polish, so you don’t want to risk getting them wet. Next, use some old newspaper pieces to stuff the insides of your boots. This will allow you to be liberal with your polish application without needing to worry about getting the treatment inside your shoes. 
  2. Clean your boots thoroughly – Polish won’t be able to set in properly unless it’s applied to a clean canvas. Use a shoe brush to clear off any dirt and debris that may have accumulated on your boots. Then, take a damp cloth and swipe it over the shoe to catch any stragglers. When you’re done, you should be able to run your hand across the shoe’s exterior without any grime getting in the way. Finally, if any mud is coated on the soles of your boots, use warm water to soak it off before getting started. 
  3. Start polishing – Now’s the time to break out that clean cloth. Apply some shoe polish to a soft cloth and use your fingers to control it in circular motions as you apply an even coat or two, depending on how much polish you think your shoe needs. Then, set the boots aside and take a well-earned break while they dry. 
  4. Buff your boots – This is the part where you’ll start seeing your shoes take on a radiant glow. Use your shoe brush to scrub the outside of your boots and smooth out your polish job. This process helps to get rid of any excess polish that you may have applied to the shoe. 
  5. Finish off with a quick shine – Use a damp cloth with just a tiny bit of polish to rub the exterior of your shoes one last time. This final (and most satisfying step) is what’s going to make your shoes truly sparkle. 

Part of the joy of owning a high-quality pair of boots is taking the time to extend their lifespan with attentive care. Many people find the process of boot polishing to be rather meditative once they get into the swing of it—so don’t be afraid to give it a try now that you know how to shine boots like a pro.  


Choosing the Right Polish for Different Boot Materials

Shoe polish comes in many different forms, from waxes to creams to liquids. 

Here’s a quick rundown on when you should use each type:

  1. Wax – Perfect for leaving behind a strong protective layer on your boots, wax polish does not restore color. Instead, it works well for covering up scuffs and scratches while you achieve a nice shine.  
  2. Cream – Softer and easier to apply than wax, cream polish is ideal for nourishing and recoloring leather shoes. 
  3. Liquid – Although liquid polish comes out on top in the category of convenience, it does sacrifice a bit of shine. It’s a great user-friendly option, but it may not give your shoes the same glow as waxes and creams can. 

Whichever method of application you choose, just make sure you pay close attention to the color of the formula if it has one. You always want to buy a polish that will blend in seamlessly with the fabric of your boots.

Wondering how to shine boots without polish? While it’s possible to do so with the help of household ingredients like orange peels, baking soda, olive oil, and more, you’re generally going to enjoy the best results if you stick to trusted shoe-cleaning solutions.  


Investing in Boots with Superior Style and Longevity

To make the most of your time and money, invest in boots that will stand the test of time and stay looking fantastic for years. That way, you won’t have to rejuvenate them as often, and when you do, the results will be well worth your effort. 

At Vionic, we know that the key to creating boots you’ll love for a long time is crafting each shoe with only the highest quality materials. 

Take a look at our top 5 suggestions for weather-resistant shoes for women that will stay looking incredible for years after you take them out of the box: 

  1. Hazal Ankle Boot – On the hunt for a stylish shoe that effortlessly transitions from day to night? Say hello to your new boot bestie. This easygoing lug sole wedge boot is crafted with luxe suede that looks high-end and responds well to cleaning. We recommend using a dry cotton cloth to wipe away any dirt or dust that may accumulate on these boots from routine wear. 
  2. Rhiannon Ankle Boot – Embrace sophistication without giving up your rustic side with this equestrian-inspired short boot. Crafted from soft yet durable materials, this shoe comes in Chocolate Nubuck, Cognac Nubuck, or classic Black Leather. This meticulously-designed boot gives off a distinct air of elegance. 
  3. Nella Ankle Boot – Whether you choose the striking Black Leather or the glossy Camel Leather version of this boot, you’re sure to stun with this versatile style. A slim, playful platform provides a bit of extra height, making this boot the ideal accent for any look. Shine these shoes with a bit of color-matched polish every couple of months to keep them in mint condition. 
  4. Sibley Ankle Boot – Crafted with water-repellent oiled nubuck, these boots perfectly blend timeless appeal with stylish intrigue. Go for the sandy Taupe Suede style if you prefer a more matte, earthy look, or opt for the Black Leather color to achieve a sleek and edgy aesthetic. Polish the leather boot to your heart’s content, but make sure to test new products on a small area of the shoe before covering the entire boot. 
  5. Regan Ankle Bootie – Available in three gorgeous shades of vintage leather, these boots have a classic silhouette and just a hint of walked-in character. Wear them out on the town for a fashionable and functional walking experience. Then, easily restore their sheen with the leather boot polishing methods outlined in this article.  

Although leather, nubuck, and suede can all be restored, each material requires a different kind of polishing treatment. For example, while classic leather shoes respond well to liquid polish, suede and nubuck are prone to damage from moisture. Therefore, they respond better to dry brushes, suede erasers, and special cleansers.

Be sure to select your shining product carefully to ensure you don’t accidentally damage your footwear investment. 


Find Boots Worth Shining at Vionic

Now that you know how to polish leather boots all by yourself, you’ll never need to spend time or money taking your shoes to a repair shop again. Use the strategies in this guide to revive an old pair of boots or refresh your current favorite kicks. 

Just as a good wax can only do so much for a beaten-up car, even the best shoe shine can’t completely transform a low-quality boot. Browse our selection of beautiful, meticulously made, and most importantly, comfortable boots for women at Vionic. Explore footwear that will stand the test of time and look impeccable with or without an at-home polish. 



Arkansas Department of Public Safety. GUIDE TO BOOT POLISHING: TIPS AND TRICKS.

CNN. Everything you need to know about how to clean suede, according to experts.

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