How Often Should You Polish Your Shoes?

You bought some high-quality shoes and you want to keep them in pristine condition, and rightfully so, considering how expensive they are nowadays. But while there are a lot of tutorials on how to polish and condition your shoes, there is not enough useful information on how often you should do it and when.

How often do you need to polish your shoes?

On average, you should polish your shoes once a week, but depending on how often you wear them, whether you use shoe trees or not, and how often you brush and condition them, you can get away with polishing them only a couple of times per month. Read further for more details.

Looking for the best shoe polish?

Why should you polish your shoes?

Polishing your shoes is not only important for making sure you look sharp, but also for increasing the lifespan of your shoes. Regular shoe polishing increases their durability, water and dirt resistance, and protects them from scuffs and scratches, otherwise, the leather will break down much quicker and you’ll need to replace them.

Do you need to polish brand new shoes? 

Yes, indubitably so. Polishing your new shoes will not only help restore some moisture back to your leather – you don’t know how long they’ve been sitting idle in a store – but also adds a layer of protection so when you spill something on them, it’s the polish that gets attacked and not the leather.

How often should you clean your shoes?

You should clean your shoes whenever they get dirty, either with a brush or wiping them with a cloth. This usually means daily, or whenever you use them, but you don’t need to polish them every time you clean them. As mentioned before, polishing them once a week it’s more than enough in most cases.

How often should you condition your shoes?

You should condition your shoes whenever the leather is dry and dull, which is usually after you wear them about 20 times or once a month. If you’re polishing them regularly and you use cream polish, you don’t need to condition them as often since cream polish has moisturizers in it.

However, shoe polishing is not a replacement for proper conditioning, so invest in a high-quality conditioner and do it once a month.

What is the difference between a shoe polisher and a shoe conditioner?

Shoe conditioners are used to moisturize and nourish the leather. They are generic and colorless and their purpose is to make your leather last longer and not crack.

Shoe polishers perform some of the functions of conditioners in that they help with leather restoration (but not as well as dedicated conditioners do), but they are able to restore color and repair scuffs as well, giving your shoes that shiny look.

If you don’t want a mirror shine look, should you still polish your shoes?

Some people don’t like the traditional mirror shine look that wax-based polish provides, considering it tacky, and decide not to polish their shoes at all, but that’s a mistake since you lose out on the other benefits that polishing provides. You can use a cream polish instead, which is able to provide protection for your shoes while giving you a smoother and more natural look.

How to polish your shoes

There’s nothing that screams fashionably smart than freshly polished leather shoes at your disposal. A glistening pair of leather shoes look professional, and can always be worn proudly. In this quick how-to-guide, we’re making sure your favorite pair is always buffed and ready to go when you need them.

To properly polish your shoes, you need a shoe brush for buffing and cleaning, and a soft cotton cloth for conditioning. A leather cleaner is optional but what’s important is that you should always have a shoe polish in hand. Remove the shoelaces and then start by brushing any dirt from your shoes. Damp the cloth with polish and rub it in with a thin layer. Dry for 20-30 minutes then brush again to buff. Repeat as necessary.

What tools are needed for a perfect shoeshine?

We all know first impressions always last so you don’t want to get caught flat-footed only because you don’t have perfectly ready leather shoes at your disposal. Having the right tools and skills to ensure your leather shoes always shine is easy and doesn’t take much time at all once you’ve gotten the hang of it.

Polishing is not tedious as long as you do the basics right. Before you go and start buffing your pair, make sure your shoes are dry. Remove the laces, and proceed with cleaning them with your shoe brush. Having no dirt on the leather is your primary concern before applying any products. After that, it’s time to apply some shoe polish to your leather pair.

For this part, having a clean and soft cloth, even an old T-shirt you no longer wear should be fine. Cut the fabric into strips then damp slightly with water. Start wiping your pair of shoes and shoelaces, as dirt can also build up on them. Take another clean cloth then apply your shoe polish. Start rubbing in circular motions until the shoe is completely covered with a thin layer. Add another layer while the shoe still looks dull before setting it for at least 20-30 minutes.

Now that the polish is dry, give the pair another scrub with your brush to remove any excess polish. In this step in the buffing process, you should see your favorite pair starting to shine. Take another damp clean cloth and add another layer of polish to rub into your shoes once more. Your pair of killer shoes should be glossy, bright, and shiny by this time.

I bought a new pair of shoes, should I polish them?

A nice new pair of leather shoes straight out of the store probably has little to no polish in them. They won’t be as shiny and glossy as you want them to be so it’s actually a pretty good idea to polish them before wearing them for the first time.

What are the benefits of a polished shoe?

Polished leather shoes are very resistant to cracking. They also prevent your pair from losing shape, which is an issue not just for shoes but any leather product in general. Polishing your shoes also gives them protection from dirt and grime build-up from everyday wear. Your shoes benefit greatly from leather conditioning as the process itself protects the material.

Another added benefit of a polished shoe is you’re generally more professional looking and more dashing. I mean, who doesn’t want that in their repertoire? You’ll always look fresh with a clean and shiny pair of shoes. It is a great way to back your confidence with looks.

What happens if I use different colored polish for my shoes?

There are instances when you only have black shoe polish for your brown shoes. For some, this could be a problem, but if you’re an experienced shoe polisher, then you shouldn’t worry as you know the basics. Dyes in shoes are generally weak and only add a slight darkening effect.

You should be fine if you need to quickly shine your brown shoes with only a black polish in hand in an emergency. Just remind yourself to not do the same if you own thick coats of polish as they’ll cause more problems than good.

How can I shine my shoes without shoe polish?

A more pressing problem than having the wrong color of shoe polish is having no polish at all. Fortunately, there are some home remedies to help you with this scenario. A great substitute for shoe polish is olive oil and warm water. Brush your shoes as usual then use olive oil in place of shoe polish to rub all over your leather pair. Other oils found at home work just as well but it’s ideal to patch test first in a small spot to avoid botching your whole shoes.

Another solution is using the white part of banana peels to shine your shoes before using a cloth or a tissue to clean it off. Use a brush or a fresh cloth to buff your fruity shoes to a shine. Alcohol and petroleum jelly also work at varying degrees. Use them like how you clean shoes with shoe polish. However, remember to test in a small area as always to make sure it won’t impact the color of the leather.


Shoes that mean business boost your confidence like no other. A shoe that looks worn out and dull reduces your capacity to stand out in an event. It’s tempting to bring your shoes to a professional, but knowing how to polish your shoes on your own is an easy skill that shouldn’t take much of your time at all.