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Shoe polishing

Updated: Mar 15

Shoe polish

Today you are going to learn how to turn your shoes from brand-new to inspection-ready. There are several key things to keep in mind when polishing shoes.

  • Don't make polishing a chore

  • Polish regularly in small amounts - 5 minutes a day is better than 20 minutes a week

  • Always ask for help if needed - your staff and cadet NCOs are there to help you out


 

What you need

  • Shoe polish - Saphir Pate De Luxe or Kiwi Black

  • Polish rag - an old t-shirt ideally cotton

  • Cotton wool - cotton pads or cotton balls

  • Hair dryer, boiling water or a heat gun - Any of these will work

  • A toothbrush - not one you need or are using

  • Water


Optional


 

Stripping

This section is for new shoes or for shoes that you can't polish any more. We are going to remove all of the polish from the shoe allowing for a fresh start.


Get a hair dryer, a heat gun or boiling water and a cloth you can get dirty. If using boiling water, pour the water slowly over the shoe. The polish will melt allowing you to take it off with the cloth. If using a hair dryer or a heat gun, heat the polish on the shoe until it goes shiny and then use the cloth to remove the polish. You may need to repeat this if your shoe is in very bad condition. Ensure these steps are completed on all sides of each shoe.


Important note - if the leather underneath the polish is damaged then you need new shoes


 

Bulling

This section will take the longest. This is where you build up the layers on your shoes.


Take your cloth and wipe down the shoe to remove any dust or dirt. Take your Saphir Pate De Luxe or Kiwi Black and a cup of lukewarm water. Wrap the cloth around your index finger and hold the shoe in your other hand. Apply a small amount of polish to your cloth and spread the polish around the part of the shoe you are currently shining. Use small circles, apply light pressure, and move around in an orderly fashion. Dip the rag into the water and hold it for 1-2 seconds. Your shoe will begin to get water on it as the polish is worked in and becomes less cloudy/streaky. You can work the water in quickly as small scratches can be fixed later, as you move faster your circles will become ovals.


Repeat this process evenly across both shoes to build up your base layers. Your shoes should get shiny. Once you think you are ready you can move on to polishing.


Important note - don't put the water in the lid of your polish, this can dry out your polish if not removed completely or cause your lid to rust


 

Polishing

In this section, you will add the finishing layer to your shoes. Each layer will take longer, but your shoe will become far more shiny.


Take your cloth and wipe down the shoe to remove any dust or dirt. Take your Saphir Amiral Gloss or Kiwi Parade Gloss and a cup of lukewarm water. Wrap the cloth around your index finger and hold the shoe in your other hand. Apply a very small amount of water to your cloth and work around the shoe in a circular motion with very light pressure in the same way as before. Now apply a very small amount of polish to your cloth. Apply this in the same way, your shoe should not go dull it should remain shiny. If it goes dull you have applied too much polish. Repeat this process all over both shoes until they have a good and consistent shine to them.


Note - Amiral Gloss or Parade Gloss are optional, they contain more oil and take longer to polish but they produce better layers


Now get your cotton wool, run it under a tap and squeeze it out so the bottom is flat. Put a tiny amount of polish on it and polish it like you normally would but apply a little bit more pressure. This will help to remove small scratches. Also don't worry if your shoe has lots of water on it, this is normal. Repeat this until you are happy. To remove the water run your shoe under the tap, ensure the tap isn't hot or the pressure is too strong as this damages the shoe.


Important note - while most prioritise their toe caps your shoes should be evenly shiny all around - you can achieve this with a 2:1 ratio of toe cap to other parts ratio - this is due to the different leather treatment


 

Maintenance

In this section, you will learn how to store and clean your shoes.


Always store your shoes in a shoe box to protect them from dust, keep them safe and don't put anything on top of the box. If you need to transport your shoes in a bag try to use a shoe box padded with something soft to protect the shoes from bumps and scratches. Over time your shoes will accumulate dirt, dust and other stuff that will make them look bad. To clean most of your shoes you can just use a damp cloth. The part where the sole of your shoe meets the leather tends to catch a lot of dirt, you can clean this with an old toothbrush.


Important note - just remember the most important parts of polishing

  • Don't make polishing a chore

  • Polish regularly in small amounts - 5 minutes a day is better than 20 minutes a week

  • Always ask for help if needed - your staff and cadet NCOs are there to help you out


 

Original version written by CI Jacob Gill

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