The other day I was polishing my shoes with the standard black wax polish using a cloth to apply in small circle motions, however when it came to buffing the polish layer off with a polish / shoe brush it didn't really leave them with the shine factor I have been used to in the past.

I am not sure whether it is just the new polish I am using or the fact the brush is new / different that it doesn't really give it a shine but I was just wondering if there are any techniques / hacks to make the shoes that little bit more shiny without having to purchase a shoe buffer designed for the task?

6 Answers 6


In my experience, brushes are better for "maintenance shining", where you just want a quick touch-up. For a high shine, I've always found a rag to be more effective.

You can use just about any soft, lint-free cloth, but my favorite was old t-shirts. Polish with a back-and-forth motion of the cloth at high speed.

In addition, once you have it mostly done, using a bit of water helps give it a nice glossy coat. Normally I'd just dampen the cloth/rag a bit and keep the same polishing motion as before.

This is how I was taught to do it upon joining the military, and I haven't found a more reliable way since.

Of course, if you just want a "cheater" shine, use a bit of oil (cooking oil is fine) instead of water. Just a touch, though. This will add an impressive shine, but it won't last long. After a few hours, it will start collecting dust and look terrible until reshined. It's useful if you only wear these shoes once in a great while, for short periods.

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    I use an old sock each time I wear the shoes before returning to the rack. It is seldom necessary to use polish. Use once initially, and what remains on the shoe the next few times is sufficient. I spit on the shoe and rub briskly. The trick is to make heat which melts the polish and glosses it out. If done after each wearing it is quick, easy, and shoes are always shined. Feb 5, 2015 at 6:38
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    +1 I was taught this approach in a military context too. We referred to it as "bulling" your boots. I find that once you've done this well a couple of times, the polishing comes easier each time thereafter. Feb 5, 2015 at 12:39

Weirdly enough, I was given this advice a week or so ago at the grocery store. The old man ringing me up told me that shining your shoes with bananas was the best way to do it. I believe it was using the peel to shine the shoe, then wipe off the residue. Haven't tried it but he swore by the method. If you give it a try, leave a comment with the results.

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    I've actually seen this done. It works, but similarly to the oil method I mentioned above (maybe due to oils in the peel? dunno). It gives a nice shine for a while, but fades/ruins quicker than a regular shine.
    – TIO Begs
    Feb 5, 2015 at 3:38
  • certainly not the first time I see this trick, but never used it (I'm much more of a sneaker fan and bananas on Nike Air don't do much ^-^ )
    – Laurent S.
    Jul 7, 2015 at 12:50

I recommend you to use body or face lotion. Apply ample amount of lotion in your shoes and will make you shoes shine without dust sticking unto them


There are some steps for the perfect polish of shoes. You should have with you two brushes, one soft and other a normal brush, a good quality polish, some of the polish diluted well with water and a piece of cloth. Firstly, remove all the dust from the shoes using the ordinary brush, leaving the lower surface of the sole. Apply liquid polish on the shoes and let it dry which will take a minute or two. Now apply polish, not the liquid polish, on the shoes and keep for about a half of a minute. Apply soft brush on the shoes and then the dry cloth circle wise with some good speed. You can apply wax brush also in place of dry cloth.


Use almond oil

Have one or two drops of almond oil to the shoe and wipe it with a cloth, it will feed the leather while having it shiny.


I have seen in childhood the Shoe Shiners. They would clean, polish and shine. Then they wrap cloth on two fingers; put a drop of water on shoe, dab the cloth covered finger on polish and rub the shoe for shine and this process goes on and on and then finished with buffing. Used to take about 15 to 20 minutes.

I few years back I read on internet how to polish shoes. Clean with hard brush, not softly. Polish with another brush (soft) or apply polish with cloth / sponge. Apply neither less nor excess; just medium polish. Let the shoes sit for the polish to dry (as is the case with Car Polish, Wax - shoe polish is also wax). Shine the shoe with the soft brush with which you applied the polish, it is a soft brush so you cannot brush hard. Finish with soft cloth buffing. (You can apply a dab of water, if you wish) I kept polishing my shoes every time I wore them, after few applications I don't have to polish them every time I wear them.

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