How Often to Polish Shoes

When you want to get a nice and expensive pair of leather footwear, it can be a really exciting experience. You might be starting out at a new job or you’re getting a promotion and you decide that you desire a new pair of black leather shoes for the office. You might be getting married and you want to invest in proper leather footwear that makes you feel and look great at the same time.

When you invest your hard-earned bucks into a finely made pair of shoes, you always want to make sure that you take care of them. But you might not know how often to polish shoes or have them moisturized. You might not be aware of how you would protect a new pair of shoes or how to buff out scuffs and scratches.

Shoe maintenance is an art in itself. There are many facets that go into maintaining and taking care of your shoes. There are all sorts of processes and practices involved and it can all get very overwhelming when you’re new at the game. Don’t worry about that. This article is going to highlight all of the basics of shoe shining, polishing, and maintenance so that you can know everything that you have to know to take care of your precious pups.  This piece is also going to cover all of the best shoe care and maintenance products which would help you prolong the lifespan of your shoes.

How Often Do You Need to Polish Your Shoes?

Truthfully, the answer to this question really depends on you. How many times are you wearing your shoes in a week? For how long do you typically wear your shoes? What kinds of roads or streets do your shoes typically walk on? If you’re looking for a safe answer, it would be at least once a week.

If you don’t wear your footwear all that often, then maybe you can get away with just polishing them once a month. Whether you’re sporting a basic black piece or an outrageous patina oxblood, you must take the time to polish your footwear. On another hand if you use soccer cleats we recommend apply leather cream after every match played to protect them.

How To Polish Your Leather Footwear

You would be surprised at how many people aren’t really aware of the proper ways to clean or polish their shoes. Again, if you’re investing in a fine piece of footwear, you must know how to take care of it. There are many ways in which you might approach cleaning and polishing your shoes. However, here is a general guide that you can follow to make sure that your fine footwear is always taken care of.

1. Cleaning

First you must clean your shoes by stripping it of any dirt, dust, debris, or any other unwanted agents. To do this, give your shoe a good brushing. If your shoe has shoelaces, remove them first. Then, take at least five minutes to thoroughly brush each shoe. Next, apply a leather cleaner and give your footwear a good wipe-down.

2. Moisturizing

After cleaning your shoes, it’s now time to moisturize it. Sometimes, the leather cleaner that you utilize in step one is going to have a moisturizing component to it as well. If not, then apply a dedicated conditioner or moisturizer to your shoe with a chamois or with your fingers. Allow the shoes to absorb the conditioner and dry for a few minutes

3: Polishing

Once your shoes have absorbed the conditioner and have dried up, it’s time to a apply shoe polish. Prepare a dedicated applicator or a chamois to apply an even coat of shoe polish all around the exterior of your shoe. Allow the shoe polish to dry. Depending on the shoe polish, the drying process could be just a few minutes or even overnight. If you have black shoes, then it’s best to stick to black solution. If you are unable to match the colors of your footwear and your polish, then go for a neutral cream or wax.

4: Buffing

After the shoe polish has dried and settled, it’s time to take a horsehair brush to buff your shoes out. Continually buff your shoes until it achieves the shine or polish that you desire. The buffing process can take quite some time depending on how shiny you want your footwear to be.

5: Waterproofing

After buffing your shoe, apply a waterproofing solution for an added layer of protection against moisture and dust.

For more details check it out our video about How To Polish Your shoes.

Quickest way to shine my shoes

There is a simple 4-step process that should work for any kind of leather shoe. Clean, condition, protect, and buff. First clean the shoe by using a brush to get rid of dust and debris. Finish the cleaning process by wiping the shoe down with a leather cleaner and a microfiber towel or chamois.

Then, condition the shoe by gently massaging leather conditioner or moisturizer into the shoe. After application, allow the shoe to rest and breathe for a few minutes. Then, protect the shoe by adding a layer of wax or shoe polish all throughout the shoe. Allow the shoe polish to dry for a while and then buff the shoe with a horsehair brush until you achieve your desired shine.

Differences between shoe polisher, shoe conditioner, shoe cream and wax

There are some very small differences between each shoe care item. Here is a brief explanation of the purpose for each:

Shoe polisher – a product used to create a shiny effect on the exterior of the shoe leather.

Shoe conditioner – a product used to moisturize and nourish the leather of the shoe.

Shoe cream – a product that is used to add more color and shine to the leather of a shoe. This is preferably used on shoes with textured surfaces like alligator and pebbled calf.

Shoe wax – a product that is used to shine and protect the leather of the shoe. It serves as an extra layer of coating to help protect against buffs and scratches. This is preferably used on shoes with smooth leather surfaces.

Best Polish Shoes Products Reviews

Now its time to talk about the best products for polish your shoes.

Best Shoe Polish Reviews

Shoe polishes primarily function as aesthetic components to a shoe. They exist to help make the shoe shine a little more prominently. However, the best shoe polishes should also carry moisturizing and waterproofing capabilities. There are all sorts of different shoe polishes out there that come in different forms and packages. Here are a few examples of some of the best shoe polish products on the market.

Moneysworth & Best Shoe Cream

✔ Affordable
✔ Effective at nourishing and moisturizing
✔ Versatile

✘ Very little wax content
✘ Not very protective like other wax-based products

Moneysworth & Best Shoe Cream Review

From its name alone, you would probably be able to guess that you would be able to get a lot of bang for buck with this product. It’s one of the more affordable items on this list, but it really packs a punch. It also comes in cream form and that makes it more viable for different types of surfaces. It contains a lot of natural oils and pigments that help nourish and moisturize the skin.

Saphir Crème Surfine Pommadier Shoe Polish

✔ Great at protecting leather
✔ Offers a variety of different uses including moisturizing, restoration, and protection
✔ Varied color options for all types of leather colors

✘ Not the cheapest product out there

Saphir Crème Surfine Pommadier Shoe Polish Review

Saphir is one of the most trusted brands all over the world when it comes to outer shoe care and maintenance. The Surfine Pommadier is marketed as an all-around shoe cream that is able to moisturize, restore, shine, and protect the shoe. It’s made out of a beeswax formula and functions well in protecting leather products from harmful elements. Regardless if your shoe is black, brown, oxblood, or whatnot, this does a great job at polishing.

Best Shoe Conditioner

Not a lot of people realize that the leather that is being used in high quality shoes is actually skin. And like the skin that you have on your body, you always have to moisturize the leather in order to prevent creases, scars, and cracks. If you care a lot about skincare, you might regularly use lotions, moisturizers, or lip balms. It’s all the same with shoes as well. The leather in your shoes demand to be nourished and moisturized regularly. This is why shoe conditioners are a staple fixture in any shoe care or maintenance kit. 

Saphir Renovateur

✔ Reasonably priced
✔ Very good at moisturizing and nourishing leather
✔ Also works well as a cleaner and polisher

✘ Offers very little protection or waterproofing

Saphir Renovateur Review

Saphir makes another appearance on this article with the Saphir Renovateur. This is a product that is well-loved by shoe enthusiasts worldwide. Most people say that if you could only have one shoe-care product, it should be this. When you apply this product, it primarily functions as a conditioner and moisturizer. But it is also very effective at cleaning and polishing shoes.

Leather Honey Conditioner

✔ Long-lasting effects with minimal need for reapplication
✔ Effective at moisturizing and nourishing leather
✔ Also works well as a protective device for leather products
✔ Can also be applied to other leather products like belts, jackets, bags, etc.

✘ Expensive
✘ Does not work as a cleaner
✘ Some users have complained that the product oversaturates the leather

Leather Honey Conditioner Review

When it comes to timelessness, this product has a lot going on for itself. With a formula that was originally developed and sold to the public over 50 years ago, the Leather Honey Conditioner has solidified itself as one of the premium brands in shoe care. Even though one bottle of the leather conditioner is a lot pricier than other competitors, the makers of this product claim that a single treatment will be good for six months or longer. It’s very effective at moisturizing and protecting all sorts of leather, not just your shoes.

Best Shoe Cream

Shoe cream is typically used for leather shoes that have certain textures that don’t work well with wax polishes. There are all sorts of textures for leather shoes out there. Some of the most popular textured leather variations are pebbled calf and crocodile/alligator leather. Shoe creams work best for these kinds of leather shoes because they are able to seep into the nooks and crannies of these textures to make sure that the entire shoe is well-protected and colored evenly.

OrthoStep Shoe Cream Polish

✔ Affordable
✔ Varied color options
✔ Effective at moisturizing
✔ Has cleaning and restoration properties

✘ Not very good at protecting leather

OrthoStep Shoe Cream Polish Review

One of the best things that the OrthoStep Shoe Cream Polish has going for it is that it’s incredibly cheap. It’s the perfect product for someone who wants to take care of their shoes without having to shell out too much cash on maintenance needs.  It’s a product that is rich in a variety of natural oils, waxes, and pigments that help add life to a piece of dead leather. It’s also vastly lauded because of its ease of use and no-fuss nature about it. It’s an effective product that is reasonably priced and does its job fairly well.

Dr. Martens Men’s Wonder Balsam

✔ Reasonably priced
✔ Effective at nourishing and moisturizing
✔ Has some protective properties

✘ Users have complained that the formula for the product has degraded over the years

Dr. Martens Men’s Wonder Balsam  Review

Dr. Martens is one of the most popular shoe manufacturing brands in the world. They are widely known for creating some of the sturdiest and most reliable leather boots on the market. However, they are also known for manufacturing some of the best shoe care products as well. One such example is the Men’s Wonder Balsam. It is an effective all-around shoe cream that nourishes, moisturizes, and protects leather products.

Best Shoe Wax

A wax polish is a shoe care item that should strictly be reserved for smooth leather shoes. Wax tends to be a little tougher than cream-based shoe care products. This means that they might not necessarily get absorbed into shoes that have varying textures and rougher terrains. Now, while shoe waxes aren’t going to be as versatile as cream polishes, they perform significantly better when it comes to shining and protecting your shoes. The hardened wax is a more effective at serving as a protective layer for your leather.

Saphir Pate de Luxe

✔ Reasonably priced
✔ Effective at offering high shine and polish
✔ Great at protecting shoes

✘ Still has to be used with a dedicated conditioner for moisturizing

Saphir Pate de Luxe Review

Making yet another appearance in this article, Saphir has really solidified its status as one of the go-to shoe care and maintenance brands in the world. The Saphir Pate de Luxe is a top-of-class shoe wax polish made out of traditional beeswax and carnauba. It’s very effective at giving shoes a high gloss finish while also offering premium protection from harmful elements.

Angelus Shoe Wax Polish

✔ Effective at waterproofing and leather protection
✔ Made of high quality waxes and oils to nourish and protect leather

✘ Only acts as a wax and only works best on smooth leather shoes

Angelus Shoe Wax Polish Review

The Angelus Shoe Wax Polish is a blend of different waxes and oils including pure carnauba and bees wax. This makes it a heavy wax polish that does a good job of cleaning, preserving, and waterproofing leather footwear. However, given that it’s a wax product, it’s not the easiest to apply, especially on textured leather shoes.

Best Shoe Shine Brushes

Typically, there are only two types of brushes that you have to concern yourself with when you’re shining shoes. The first brush is the soft horsehair bristle brush. This is the kind of brush that you would use on smooth leather shoes. The other kind of brush would be a hard horsehair or nylon bristle brush. This is the kind of brush that you would use on textured leather materials like alligator or pebbled calf. It’s important that you choose a quality product that will not harm your shoes and maximize the potency of your shoe care products.

Kiwi Horsehair Shine Brush

✔ Affordable
✔ Effective at cleaning and polishing

✘ Horsehair tends to fall out quicker than more premium alternatives
✘ Not the longest brush length

Kiwi Horsehair Shine Brush Review

Kiwi has always been a solid name in the shoe care industry for the longest time now. It’s a household name and they really do make quality products. Their horsehair shine brush is no exception. It’s an easy buy at a relatively affordable price and it definitely gets the job done. It’s not the longest brush out there with just 5 inches of length. But it’s still a great product.

Takavu Horsehair Brush

✔ Horsehair doesn’t fall out easily
✔ Bristles are made of premium quality
✔ It has admirable length and girth

✘ Expensive

Takavu Horsehair Brush Review

This product is a premium shoeshine brush that is definitely up for any task. Its bristles are soft enough to ensure the safety of your footwear. But they are also stiff enough to dislodge any dust and buff your shoes out effectively. It’s also relatively long with a length of 6.7 inches. However, it’s also one of the more expensive options out there.

How long does shoe polish take to dry?

The answer for this question can range from a few minutes to a few hours. It all depends on the type of shoe polish that you’re using and what kind of technique you are employing. There certain fast-acting shoe polishes that dry after just 5 to 10 minutes. However, there are also slower acting shoe polishes that will have you waiting a few hours before you can start buffing them.

How Often to Polish Shoes FAQs

How to remove shoe polish?

To remove shoe polish, make use of a dedicated shoe soap. Some leather creams or conditioners have cleansing properties which will help remove any shoe polish. Then, use a chamois to wipe away any unwanted shoe polish that remains on your shoes.

Why should you polish your shoes?

You should always polish your shoes regularly for two reasons. For one, it makes your shoe look neater, newer, and more aesthetically pleasing. Also, shoe polishes and waxes help preserve the integrity of your shoe leather and it helps protects against any potential scuffs and scratches.

Do you need to polish brand new shoes?

Yes. Just because your shoe comes straight from the store doesn’t mean that it’s going to be in peak condition. In some higher end stores, the staff will offer to moisturize and polish the shoes for you before you leave. However, most of the time, this might not be the case. When you buy a shoe, keep in mind that that shoe has probably been sitting in storage for a long time. No one has been taking care of that shoe. So, before you wear it for the first time, make sure to clean, moisturize, and wax it so that you protect the leather.

How often should you clean your shoes?

This really depends on how often you wear your shoes. Ideally, you would brush your shoes before and after every wear. However, you should do a deep cleaning of a shoe weekly if you’re wearing it three or more times a week. If you only wear your shoe once or twice weekly, then you can perform a deep cleaning just once a month.

How often should you condition your shoes?

Again, this all depends on the usage rate of a particular pair. If you are wearing your shoes on a daily basis, then it’s important to condition them at least once a week. If you only wear your shoes occasionally, then at least try to condition them at least once a month.

How long to wait for shoe polish to dry before buffing?

It all depends on the brand of shoe polish that you are using. There are certain shoe polishes that are ready for buffing just 5 minutes after application. However, there are also other shoe polishes that work best when they are left on the shoe overnight prior to buffing.

Does shoe polish have an expiration date?

No, shoe polish doesn’t have an expiration date. This is why you will only see the manufacturing date on the bottle or container.

Does shoe cream work better than a wax polish?

One doesn’t generally work better than the other all of the time. It all depends on the type of leather that the polish or cream is being used on. Generally, a cream works best on textured leather while a wax works best on smooth leather. Polishing a shoe isn’t a cut and dry process. You really need to understand the nuances of the shoe before you can begin polishing.


Again, there are a myriad of different ways in which you might approach taking care of your shoes. But it shouldn’t really be too complicated of a process. When you pour your money into a good piece of footwear, it’s important that you do everything possible to make it last. Hopefully, this article will have given you substantial insight into everything that you need to know about how often to polish shoes, how you should maintain your leather, what the best shoe care products are out there, and more.  

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