How to shine your shoes – shoe shining 101


We’ve written about shoes quite a few times here at SuitUpp… From how to maintain your shoes to a description of the different shoe types you could buy, we’ve covered a variety of topics. What we haven’t talked about yet is how to shine your shoes. While it does feel great to get your shoes shined professionally, we all know it’s not very practical to rely on finding a shoe shining facility whenever you need one and so we’ll take the time to write about what you need to know in this post.

First and foremost, we would strongly recommend that you go out and buy yourself a professional shoe shining kit. Here’s an example of one we found from Kiwi on

For the most part, every shoe shine kit will come with fine haired brushes – usually one for each color (typically brown and black) that are made of horse hair. Shine cloths, daubers (for the application of the polish, a shoe horn, and of course the polish (black and brown). Now if you don’t have a shoe shine kit, don’t worry. You can still do without one by using an old t-shirt or cotton cloth to take the place of the shine cloths (also called chammys or chamois) and you can use any fine haired brush – maybe even a toothbrush – to replace the shine brushes. We’re not necessarily recommending not buying a shoeshine kit, but, if you’re in an emergency situation and you need shined shoes, then you’ll have to improvise as we mentioned.

Here are the steps to take when shining your shoes:

1) Find some newspaper to cover the floor. Cover the area where you will be shining your shoes. You don’t want stains on carpet or even hardwood and so this first step is of utmost importance.

2) Take out shoe any shoe trees if present.

3) If your shoes have laces, take them out too – this will allow for the tongue of the shoe to be polished as well.

4) Now clean off your shoe with a damp cloth to get all dust and other particles that don’t belong off. After this cleansing process, allow for your shoes to dry before proceeding.

5) Now you can use a toothbrush or perhaps the “on-brush” to get the polish onto areas that are hard to reach. Once you’ve reached the hard to reach areas, you can apply the polish elsewhere.

5a) Quick note on types of polish – a wax-type will help waterproof your shoes whereas a cream-type will make your shoes shinier.

6) After applying the polish, let your shoes dry a bit. Once they are dry enough, you can then use the off-brush to start polishing your shoes.

7) After polishing with the brush, you can use your chammy to do some extra polishing.

8) Let your shoes dry for a bit afterwards and they should have a beautiful shine.

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