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How to Polish Your Boots

Updated on January 28, 2014

You may need to have nicely polished boots because you are in the military or law enforcement. Or maybe you are going dancing this weekend, or its your 50th birthday party and you want to look your best! For me, I just had to make my sergeant happy.

After months of trying different methods to polish my boots to make my him happy, I came across a method that seemed to work great for me and got a shine on my boots that I could see myself in! Finally I wasn’t getting yelled at anymore for an inadequate shine on my boots! Here’s what you need:

- Your Boots

- A lighter

- Kiwi (or other similar) shoe polish

- A small cup of water

- 100% cotton, polishing rag (an old soft t-shirt works great)

First things first, you need to build up a couple of base layers before you can really get a shine. So don’t be surprised if the first time or two you do this to your boots you aren’t seeing very impressive results. For me it was about the fourth layer before I started getting a pretty amazing looking shine. The more layers you have the shinier it’ll get. It takes awhile but if it meant keeping my Sergeant off of my back I was willing to put in the time. If you are also, you will have some pretty impressive boots. Now, traditionally just the toe area of the boot needs to have a reflective shine, which is good because if you did this on the whole boot it could take quite awhile.

Melting on the first layer of wax.
Melting on the first layer of wax.

To start the base layer wrap the cotton rag around two of your fingers (as pictured), dip it in some water, and then get some polish on the end. Now wipe this polish onto the toe of the boot in a small circular motion until the whole toe is covered in a decent layer of shoe polish. Now, if this is your FIRST layer on the boot take your lighter and hold it up to the toe. Go back and forth smoothly over the polish until it “flows”. Basically it’ll just look like the polish is getting really shiny on its own when the flame is over it and then get hazy again once it cools. Once you’ve done that to the whole toe dip your rag in water and get a much smaller amount of additional polish. Put this polish on the toe area you just heated and allowed to cool and rub it in with small, circular motions.

With a few layers of cloth wrapped around two fingers, make small circular motions.
With a few layers of cloth wrapped around two fingers, make small circular motions.

Continue these small circular motions until the polish on the toe area of the boot is all worked in. You’ll see it get shiny and the haze will slowly disappear the more you work the polish in. Do not change the part of the rag you are using while you do this. Continue using the exact same spot on the rag. Now this can take awhile especially if this is one of your first few layers. Expect about 15 minutes or so to completely work in each layer to a shine. After the first layer you should no longer need the lighter to melt on the wax, you can just grab the rag, dip it in water, then get wax on it and rub it in again until it shines. 

The only other time you may need a lighter is after you get many layers on and the wax is starting to flake off while you are polishing on a new layer. Typically this flaking will cause little small rolls of hard wax to scratch your boot while you polish and create a very frustrating experience for you. If this is happening try melting the wax on again and that tends to get rid of the hard excess wax flakes. 

After you have built up a good base of about 5 layers of wax you will see a pretty amazing shine. Also, when you go to shine your boots in the future it should only take one layer now that you have the base on. This will make maintaining your shine a whole lot easier. 


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    • Wolfy profile image

      Kate Daily 6 years ago from California

      I've never had any cracking but it has flaked before with too much Kiwi and/or water. If that happens, just use the lighter and melt the existing Kiwi (don't add more) onto the boot again and start polishing. You should be fine.

    • profile image

      oofcire 6 years ago

      wont the polish crack or flake if u put too much water or kiwi