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Caring Soles: How To Correctly Polish Your Shoes

Whether you’ve never polished your shoes or you're simply looking to perfect your technique, keep reading to discover our handy guide on the basics of shoe polishing.

Why polish your shoes?

Polishing is essential to keep your shoes looking their best and, if done correctly, will also help prolong their life. Because leather is a natural material it dries out over time, so shoe polish works to help keep the leather in tip top condition by preventing any cracking. Polish also forms a semi-protective layer on your shoes uppers that lessens the effects of time and the elements.

What you’ll need:

If you’ve treated yourself to a high-quality pair of shoes, then it is worth investing in some quality shoe polish and shoe care equipment. We recommend using products that contain natural ingredients as they will complement the natural leather of your shoes and help to keep them looking their best. It is worth noting that while they may seem to achieve the same effect aesthetically, cheaper shoe polish alternatives can contain artificial ingredients that can actually do more harm to the leather than good over time. Neither our Quarter & Last branded shoe care products, or Saphir Medaille D'or feature artificial ingredients. You can shop the full range here. 

Polish - Pick a polish that matches the colour of your shoes. Shop our colours here

Cotton cloth - While an old but clean cloth can work, if you're treating your shoes to some quality care products you might as well spend that little extra and purchase a cloth exclusively made for polishing. You can shop ours here

Buffing brush - We recommend using a natural horsehair brush as they are sturdy but soft enough to not scratch the leather. They also help raise the fibres of the leather to create a great surface for shining. Shop our collection here.


Step One: Preparing the shoes

Make sure that your shoes are dry and remove the laces. Give your shoes a quick brush with your soft haired brush to remove any dust or dirt as these will affect the application of your polish.

Step Two: Applying the polish

You don’t want to over saturate your shoes with polish so always start out with a relatively small amount. If your first coat of polish doesn’t quite achieve the shine that you’re after, you can always apply another coat on top. It is always best to build up your polish in layers so that you don’t overload the leather. Apply your polish to the leather and using your cotton cloth, spread it by moving in small circular motions until the entire of your shoes uppers have been covered.

Step Three: Buffing your shoes

You should leave your shoes to one side so that the polish can work its way into the leather to condition and restore it. The longer you leave the polish on your shoes the better it will work, but about half an hour to an hour should do the trick.

Once you’ve left the polish to do its job, it’s time to give your shoes a good buff. Take your horsehair brush and brush the entire uppers of your shoes using a firm, back and forth motion. The more you buff the greater the shine you’ll achieve. Once you’ve got your shoes to your desired level of shine, simply lace them back up and you’re good to go.

Bonus Tip: As well as polishing, using shoe trees and giving your shoes a days rest between wear will also help prolong their life. 

Are there any extra measures you take to ensure your shoes receive the best polishing treatment? Let us know and don't forget to browse our full shoe care collection. 

Copy by Tom Mankin. 



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