Whilst it’s not a task that people say they enjoy, it’s a task that needs doing every so often. If you’ve paid good money for a pair of boots and you consider your leather boots and shoes an investment piece, you need to look after them. That means polishing them regularly to make them last as long as possible. It really doesn’t take as long as you might think if you get into a routine of doing so.
Polishing boots can seem like a complicated process but it really doesn’t have to be. Put some newspaper down in your living room and clean your boots whilst watching a movie or catching up with your favourite TV show. You might as well make it fun whilst cleaning! You don’t need tonnes of specialist items to clean or polish a pair of boots.
For the sake of this article, we’ll be focusing on leather boots as this is the most common type of material we sell and the easiest to clean. You’ll see from our guide that you don’t need to invest in an expensive toolkit, other than a decent polish, a couple of cloths and a toothbrush! Keep reading and follow our step by step guide.
Before you even start polishing them, you need to clean your boots first. If you clean/polish them regularly, this won’t take you as long compared to if you rarely clean them. We recommend removing the laces for a thorough clean and washing them separately. It means you don’t have to clean around them and can also get to the eyelets much easier. Before you start cleaning, it can also be easier to stuff your shoes with newspaper or a shoe horn, if you have one. Not only does it help your boots maintain their shape, it also means that your boots won’t squish when you have to clean or scrub them.
Next, dry brush your boots to get rid of any debris first. There are plenty of brushes on there but a basic one for a couple of pounds is suitable for this job. It’s important not to miss this step because if you polish them straight away, you might be adding that dirt deeper into the leather. Pay attention to certain areas where dust and dirt might collect, such as the sole of the boot, any patterns on top of the boots and eyelets.
Wipe down with soapy water
You can use specialised saddle soap or baby shampoo works just as well. Use a splash of soap/shampoo and warm water and a soft cloth. Do not soak your boots in a bowl or get them saturated. You want to use a small amount to get rid of any excess dirt and buff them with the cloth. Make sure you wash the entire boot first before concentrating on smaller areas of the boots, such as metal fastenings and eyelets. Pat them down with an old towel once you’ve finished and leave them to dry for 10-15 minutes before polishing. They need to be completely dry so leave them longer if they’re still damp. You might find you’ve got them too wet if they’re taking a while to dry. At least you’ll know for next time not to use as much water!
Apply the polish
Grab yourself a clean, dry cloth and dip the corner of it into the polish. You want to use a moderate amount but not too much; it will go further than you think. Start by using circular motions on the main part of the boot. Focus on one area, such as the toes, to begin with and move around the boot. Add more polish as you do to get an even finish but try not to use too much as you want a smooth finish.
To get to the edges and the finer details, grab a clean toothbrush, dip the bristles in the polish and move it around. You might think you’ve got to the harder parts with the cloth but a toothbrush just makes sure it’s even. Whilst you can invest in a proper polish brush, a cheap toothbrush does the trick just as well (and it’s much cheaper).
Time to buff
Leave the polish to dry for at least 10 minutes. Some polishes take longer to dry so always check the packaging first. Once the polish is completely dry, use a clean brush to lightly buff your boots. Move the brush from side to side to make sure the polish is distributed fully. It can take a while but when the leather starts to shine, that’s when you know it’s working!
Grab the dry cloth you used early and with the rest of the cloth (the part without any polish on), wipe away any excess polish that you might have missed with the brush to finish off.
It’s recommended that you leave your boots around 24 hours to dry completely and to allow the polish to sink in properly. However, leaving them overnight to use the next day is enough time for most polishes. Do check the packaging beforehand though as different types require different drying times.
If your boots still look stained, repeat from the ‘apply the polish’ step again. However, if you keep your boots clean, you’ll only have to polish them infrequently. Before the winter kicks in, now is actually a great time to polish any leather boots or shoes. These pairs have probably been stored away in boxes or at the back of the wardrobe for months so will need polishing again to have them looking like new.
You can also invest in a leather protector spray, which means you won’t need to polish your boots as often. Use this spray monthly if you wear your boots daily and you’ll only need to polish them between every season.
If you have multiple pairs of leather boots, it might be a good idea to clean and polish them altogether, especially if they’re the same colour. It will mean that you won’t have to polish them individually when you can spare an hour or two cleaning them all! Make sure you have all the toolkit to hand before starting and it won’t take you as long! You can even get the help of your kids and teach them how to polish their own shoes!
For more footwear care, be sure to check out the full range of Rydale care products. Out clothing and footwear care range has everything you need to safely and efficiently clean, protect and repair your items. From leather and suede footwear, to wax cotton jackets and much more. All of our Rydale care products have been made here in the England using eco-friendly reproofers, dressings and sprays.