Polishing Leather Shoes - A Step-by-Step Guide
January 24, 2024

Polishing Leather Shoes - A Step-by-Step Guide


If you’re wondering whether leather shoes can last in a humid climate like Singapore’s, the short answer is yes. But, you’ll have to put in the effort and a little TLC. Leather is porous and will absorb moisture from the environment. Too much moisture causes the leather to deteriorate and too little will lead it to crack. With the right care steps, your leather products will be able to last a lifetime.

Creating a Home Shoe Polishing Kit

If you want your leather shoes to remain sleek and sharp, every man should invest in the right shoe polishing tools to maintain their leather shoes at home - this will save you time and money.

Here are the essential items needed to create your first shoe polishing kit.

Shoe Brush
Always opt for a horsehair brush. Horsehair brushes are firm enough to give your shoes a lovely shine without removing any of the shoe polish you just applied. They are also able to get in between all the nooks and crannies to remove excess dirt.

Soft Cloth

A cotton or microfiber cloth is needed for cleaning as well. An old t-shirt could be used too, just cut it into strips or small squares, and you’ll be good to go. Avoid using rough or coarse fabrics such as rough towels or canvas.


                                                           Wren’s Polishing Mitten

Leather Cleaner and Lotion
Leather cleaner does exactly what its name says. It cleans your leather by removing grime and accumulated dirt by loosening them. Leather cream or lotion on the other hand, conditions the leather, by preventing it from becoming brittle or cracking; extending its longevity.  

Shoe polish
We suggest opting for a wax-based polish as it adds a shine and enhances the colour of your shoes, as opposed to cream-based polishes.

To help you in starting your very own shoe care kit, we have curated the items for you here - WREN'S LEATHER CARE KIT.

Step-by-Step Guide to Polishing your Leather Shoes

1. Preparation

To polish your shoes well, preparation is key. Start by preparing your polishing kit and removing your laces, to prevent polish from getting onto them; prepare a little water while you’re at it.  

2. Buff and Clean

Next, take your Wren’s horsehair brush and start buffing your leather shoes, ensuring that you get into all crevices, to ensure thorough cleaning. Alternatively, you can also use a damp cotton cloth, to remove dust or dirt. Thereafter, apply our Wren’s leather cleaning foam to your leather shoes. Start by applying a little to your cotton cloth, and rub it hard and thoroughly onto your shoes, in a circular clockwise motion, until all excess dirt and polish comes off. Important for shoe cleaning - always go in circular motions. Leave it to dry for 30 minutes.

Image credit via Pinterest and Google

 3. Condition

Next, for thorough cleaning and priming, use a leather conditioner. Our Wren’s leather lotion is the perfect product to get this job done. Only a small amount is required here. Apply a pea-sized amount onto the polishing cloth, and again, apply the lotion onto the shoe in circular motions; with less pressure this time. Let it rest for another 15 minutes. Leather conditioners do clean to a certain extent, and can be used for simpler cleaning.

Image credit via Google

4. Recolouring, Care and Protection

Now it’s time to restore your shoe’s colour. Use our Wren’s shoe cream to enhance the colour of the leather. Leather cream as opposed to leather lotion, helps retain and enhance the colour of your shoes. Whereas lotion helps retain the natural oils of the leather, to maintain its suppleness and prevent it from cracking. Try to get a leather cream that matches the shade of your shoe, if not go for a lighter shade. That said, with the use of a neutral leather cream, it will preserve the natural colours of the leather.

You can start by applying the shoe cream to the part in between the sole and the upper. For this area, you can use a toothbrush to hit every nook and cranny. For the upper, let’s go back to the cotton cloth. Take the cloth, wrap it twice around your index and middle finger, take a little bit of the cream and again, apply to the shoe area-by-area in a circular motion. With cream, apply more pressure than you did with the lotion. Once every inch of the shoe has been covered with a thin layer of the cream, let it rest for 15 minutes, give it a little buff to smoothen the cream layer.

Image credit via Shoegazing

Video Illustration - Similar Guide in 4 minutes

Video credit via Shoegazing

Now that we know how to polish our leather shoes, let’s look at some preventive measures. It is always essential that we know what not to do when polishing leather shoes, to prolong its durability and longevity. 

7 Don’ts When Polishing Shoes

1. DON’T use instant shoe polish
2. DON’T neglect cleaning the shoe before polishing
3. DON’T use too much polish
4. DON’T apply polish to wet shoes
5. DON’T neglect the sole edge
6. DON’T use the wrong shoe polish colour
7. DON’T store wet or polished shoes immediately  

If you are a beginner, don’t get disheartened if your shoes do not get the sheen you want, even if you followed the steps above in detail. As with all things, practice makes perfect.