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How Often Should You Polish Your Shoes?

Polishing your shoes can help restore their beauty and even extend their lifespan. But how often should it be done? Check out our complete guide to polishing your fancy leather shoes the right way.

Black leather shoes with shoe creams and brushes on the sides.

Right now, you may only polish your shoes for special occasions, such as a wedding. Or maybe you polish them regularly for your job. How do you know if you’re polishing them too might or not enough? According to the experts at Savvy About Shoes, “On average, you should polish your shoes once per week.” This figure varies, though, based on how often you wear your shoes and how you care for your shoes, among other factors. 

Benefits of Polishing Your Shoes

Man polishing a brown leather shoe.

First and foremost, the staff at The Gentle Manual states “A regular polish will extend the lifespan of your shoes and ensure that they always look new.” 

For one, polish adds a protective coating to your shoes that shields them from dirty and other debris they come in contact with as you wear them. 

Secondly, when you polish and condition your shoes, you prevent the leather from cracking. The polish will cover up minor blemishes, such as scuffs as well. 

And finally, your shoes will look newer longer, and a pair of polished shoes can enhance your outfit immensely. This is especially the case when you’re a professional who has to look pristine for business meetings and being in the office in general. 

Why One Time a Week Is Average 

A businessman polishing his shoes.

Any more than one time per week is overkill, even if you’re wearing your shoes several times per week. While you should clean your shoes after your wear them each time, the polish is merely to protect them and give them a glossy finish. Once you apply the polish, it’ll remain on your shoes during several wears. 

If you’re only wearing a particular pair of shoes a few times per month, you can get away with only polishing them a few times per year. Moreover, the pairs of shoes you have in your closet that you seldom wear could benefit from a polish a few times per year. You should, however, regularly clean them to remove dust that accumulates as they sit under your bed or tucked away in a closet. You’ll need to clean them much less if you store them in the box they came in.

Keep in mind, if you’re using a shoe tree, you won’t need to polish them as much. These wooden devices hold your shoes in place as they sit, so it helps to maintain the shoes’ size and shape. As a result, if you’re not wearing your shoes regularly, you won’t need to condition and polish them as much.

Choosing a Shoe Polish 

Black leather shoes on a wooden stool surrounded by brushes and shoe polish.

Ideally, you should select a wax shoe polish if you want the highest level of shine. On the other hand, if you’re looking to add moisture, a cream polish will work best. 

As you’re selecting the polish, make sure you consider color. Opt for a hue that matches the natural hue of your shoes or brings out any highlights within the color. For instance, if your shoes have hints of red along with brown, use a cherry polish. You don’t need to choose a color, though. A clear finish is ideal if you’re only looking to add shine to the shoes. 

Proper Polishing Technique

Man cleaning his shoes.

Before you polish your shoes, you must clean and condition them. If you have several pairs of shoes that you maintain, it could benefit you to purchase a shoe brush. However, if you don’t have one, an old cotton T-shirt will do just fine. The idea is to use something on the shoe that won’t damage it but will remove any dirt or grime. 

You should be cleaning your shoes off after every use, not just before you polish them. It’s essential before you polish them, though. It helps to dampen the cloth or brush to remove all the salt, dirt, and other debris that builds up on your shoes. 

Next, you should apply a conditioner. While polishing your shoes does help them maintain their moisture, it’s not as effective as a conditioner. Therefore, apply conditioner to your shoes prior to polishing them. Make sure you put the conditioner on dry shoes only. 

Man applying cream on his shoes.

You can now apply the polish to your shoes. Apply it with a clean, dry rag. For this process, dip the rag into the shoe polish to acquire a small amount of polish. Then, you move the rag in a circular motion on every part of the leather on your shoes. You should have a thin coating of polish on each shoe. You may now add a second layer of polish to the shoes to give them the shine you desire. Once done, let the shoes sit for 20 to 30 minutes before you wear them. 

Once completed, take a shoe brush over them to remove any excess polish, which is known as buffing. 

With the proper care, you can extend your shoes’ lifespan. Polishing is one habit that’ll preserve your shoes and ensure they last, and as a general rule, you only need to do it after you wear your shoes several times or occasionally if their shoes you don’t wear much. Moreover, for shoes you wear regularly, every week is advised.  


Savvy About Shoes: How Often Should You Polish Your Shoes? Caring for Your Dress Shoes the Right Way