How to Polish Your Work Boots

How Should Work Boots ACTUALLY Be Polished?
Are Your Work Boots Looking Dull & Lifeless? They Might Be In Need of a Good Polish. Follow These Easy Steps To Get Your Boots Looking Brand New & Shiny Again!
How Should Work Boots ACTUALLY Be Polished?

How to polish your work boots the correct way? There are numerous ways to polish your work boots, some involving the use of brushes, cloths, waxes and polishes.

Polishing your work boots has fantastic benefits, like shielding your work boots from the elements, minor scratches and bumps.

While you don’t need to eat yeast and shoe polish every morning to rise and shine, it is essential that you find out about the best ways to polish your work boots to give you that extra work boot edge.

Through this article, you’ll discover:

    Our editorial squad at MyBestWorkBoots works tirelessly to bring you the latest retail scoops.

    We applied our specialist knowledge to compiling this professional manual on how to polish your work boots with class.

    Let’s get started.

    Why Polish Your Work Boots?

    Polishing your work boots is the best way to revitalize them, especially if you have an old pair of boots that may benefit from some TLC.

    Best of all, if you follow the methods we’re about to give you, you’ll have a gorgeous shine on your boots in less than 30 minutes. 

    The procedures are straightforward, but the results are profound. 

    This is how you do it.

    What You’ll Need to Polish Your Work Boots

    What you’ll need to polish your work boots is: 

    • Shoe polish
    • A brush made of horsehair
    • A welt brush (alternatively, a toothbrush works as well)
    • A cloth for cleaning and polishing (alternatively, microfiber or an old t-shirt will do)
    • A warm cup of water
    • Wax for polishing (if you want a mirror shine)

    Ensure you have the right color shoe polish for the boot you want to spruce up.

    Black shoe polish will look dreadful on a brown boot, and vice versa.

    A horsehair brush is far superior to any other sort for buffing your boots—the hairs are soft enough to provide a consistent finish over the leather, so there is no substitute.

    You don’t need all of the brushes, but if you have a small collection of boots, shoes, or leather bags that you want to keep in good condition, spending a little money upfront is useful.


    Because polishing your shoes is all about the details, you’ll need a welt brush.

    It’s only a little brush that can reach into tight spaces like between the upper and sole and around the eyelets.

    If you need a polishing cloth, microfiber cloths are recommended, but you may also use old t-shirts or socks. 

    Be sure to use either a t-short or sock/s that you don’t intend to wear again, as you won’t be able to remove the polish stains from them once used for polishing.

    Before you begin

    Prepare a cup of warm water to assist the polish in dispersing evenly and provide a lovely sheen.

    Do you have everything you need?

    Let’s get this party started.

    How to Polish & Shine Your Work Boots in 4 Easy Steps 

    The 4 easy steps to polish and shine your work boots are:

    1. Cleaning off the dirt
    2. Applying the polish
    3. Buffing and distributing the polish
    4. Shining your boots

    Let’s get into it.

    Step 1: Clean off Dirt

    First and foremost, gently beat your boots together to dislodge any dirt or mud that has clung to the sides or their bottoms.

    To remove any dust or stray dirt, run a towel, old shirt, or even a soiled pair of socks over your boots.

    While this may appear to be a minor first step, dirt may cause your polish to distribute unevenly and may even cause permanent scratches to the leather.

    So take the first step seriously and give your boots a quick wipe down.

    If your boots are unclean, use saddle soap to clean and condition them before polishing.

    Step 2: Apply the Polish

    1. Wrap your microfiber polishing cloth tightly around your finger and make tight circles to gather up a layer of polish.
    2. You can also apply the polish with a dauber horsehair brush.
    3. Friction will liquefy the polish enough to attach to the towel, so if you’re working with old polish, it may take a little longer, but don’t give up; you’ll get it eventually.
    4. This step should be simple if you’re using a polishing cream rather than a solid puck.
    5. Simply take a dime-sized amount.
    6. Begin with a small amount and gradually increase it.
    7. Polish one section of your boot at a time.
    8. Start with the toes.
    9. Rub the polish into the leather in small circles, pushing it into every crevice.
    10. Apply one layer for a light cleaning or several layers for a brighter shine.

    When you initially apply the polish to your boots, they will not appear shiny.

    That will happen later.

    For the time being, just make sure you’ve applied a few layers of polish to every portion of the boot.

    Step 3: Buff & Distribute the Polish

    It’s time to buff your boots now that you’ve applied enough layers of polish to them.

    This step evens out the layers of polish you’ve applied, so there are no dark patches on the leather.

    Make even strokes on each part of your boots with your horsehair brush.

    You don’t need to spend too much time on this step.

    5 or 6 swipes around each portion of your boot should be enough to disperse the polish evenly.

    Step 4: Shine Your Boots

    Now that you’ve applied and levelled out the polish, it’s time to shine your boots.

    1. Dampen your finger with water after wrapping it in the clean end of the microfiber towel. 
    2. Begin shining your boots with the same motion you used to apply the polish (small circles). 
    3. After 10-15 little circles for each portion of your boot, if not sooner, you should have a significant shine.

    More water means more shine during the shining phase.

    However, don’t saturate your microfiber towel because you won’t see any effects. 


    As with the other steps of the polishing procedure, begin with a small amount.

    If you want extra shine, wet your towel again and repeat this step if you want extra shine.

    Proceed to repeat this process from the toe cap to the rest of the boot.

    3 Methods for Polishing Your Leather Work Boots

    The 3 methods for polishing your leather boots are:

    1. The quick way to polish leather work boots.
    2. Boot polishing to get the shine out of your leather boots.
    3. The intensive shining method for leather work boots.

    Let’s unpack the steps to each one of these.

    The Quick Way to Polish Leather Work Boots

    The quick way to polish leather work boots is simple and makes your boots look exquisite.

    However, it will not give a high shine, which some people enjoy. 

    It’s the same as giving your car a fast 10-minute wash but not waxing it.

    Your automobile will be clean and presentable, but not as well as it may be with extra time.

    1. Make sure your leather work boots are clean and dry, especially around the welt stitching.
    2. Apply the proper color polish to your work boots.
    3. You want a uniform coat that isn’t too thick or too thin. 
    4. Then, spot them in a warm, dry place and leave them alone.
    5. You might wait an hour or two, or you could save time by applying the polish before going to bed.
    6. After that, buff your work boots with a polishing brush.
    7. This removes extra polish and smooths the surface, making your work boots appear as good as new. 

    Again, it’s not the high shine that some people prefer, but it’ll suffice in a hurry.

    Boot Polishing: Getting a Shine on Your Leather Boots

    The second method for polishing leather boots uses the same ingredients as the first, but it’s more thorough boot care.

    It will, however, pay off in terms of appearance. 

    If you’re not satisfied with anything less than a good shine, this is your product.

    1. Before continuing, make sure your shoes or boots are clean and dry.
    2. The first step is to apply a thin, even layer of high-quality polish to your shoes.
    3. Don’t be conservative either; the leather should be coated generously.
    4. The secret to achieving a good shine is to apply a layer of polish.
    5. Since it’s impossible to “shine” the leather, you generate a gleam on the polish.
    6. After applying the polish, use a polishing brush to remove any excess.
    7. A second layer may be required to ensure uniform dispersion of the polish across the surface of your leather work boots. 
    8. Get a soft, clean towel after you’ve rubbed away the excess.
    9. Dunk it in water and thoroughly wring it out until almost dry; it should be moist but not drenched or sopping.
    10. Insert your index finger into the cloth and wrap it tightly around it.
    11. Pull the material tight with your thumb and the rest of your fingers.
    12. Dip the cloth into the polish and dab a small amount on your fingertip.
    13. Make your way around your work boot using a circular motion.
    14. You want to cut small circles less than a square inch in size.
    15. This produces a swirling look on the polish, followed by a matte-like gloss.
    16. If you make it too small, you’ll stay there all day.
    17. You’ll get the hang of the right-sized motion with practice.
    18. Repeat this process with the next boot.
    19. To get a gleaming toe cap, buff it with a dry, lint-free soft cloth; a shoeshine chamois works great.
    20. That will give your boots a great sheen.
    21. It takes some time – maybe an hour at most – but it’s worth every minute.

    Now for the fireworks!

    Creamed, Buffed & Shined: The Intensive Shining Method for Leather Work Boots

    However, if you want the best looking leather work boots, you must invest in materials and be willing to put in some effort. 

    To achieve and maintain a high mirror shine, you must first apply a thick layer of polish.

    What you’ll need:

    • Wax polish
    • Cream polish
    • A couple of soft, clean chamois or other extremely soft cloths
    • A polishing brush
    • A spray bottle filled with water

    The intensive shining method for leather work boots is as follows: 

    1. After cleaning your work boot, add a light coat of cream polish to it in the swirling motion previously described.
    2. Allow a uniform coat to dry.
    3. This closes pores and conditions the leather.
    4. Lightly spray a chamois or other soft cloth with water and buff the cream polish. 
    5. Allow it to dry.
    6. The wax polish is then applied.
    7. Depending on your preferences, you can pick either a gloss or a normal kind.
    8. Spray a clean chamois or other soft cloth using the spray bottle.
    9. Apply a small amount of polish to your boots in a circular swirling motion. 
    10. It should be applied without resistance.
    11. Should you experience resistance, softly spray with water, dab on the polish, and repeat the process.
    12. Pay close attention to the heel and toe cap at this point.
    13. Excess polish will peel and fracture where the boot flexes.
    14. Don’t ignore certain regions.
    15. Set aside some time because this method requires 3 to 5 layers of wax.
    16. When you begin to notice the sheen, you’re coming close to that mirror shine.
    17. You may need to do more if your boots are brand new.
    18. Apply wax polish without wetting the cloth when you detect a good matte shine on the toe cap and heel.
    19. Swirl it onto your boot until you have a good uniform coat, then buff them gently with a clean chamois or other soft cloth.
    20. This melts the top layer of polish with friction, giving you that highly sought mirror sheen.
    21. Dedicate an hour or two for this, as this procedure shouldn’t be rushed.

    Should You Use Cream or Wax Shoe Polish?

    It’s ideal to use both cream and wax shoe polish, but if you have to choose, wax shoe polish is the superior option.

    Some people ask which is the best because wax has some advantages that cream polishes do not, such as providing significantly greater leather protection.


    If you could only have one type of shoe polish, that’s the one to get, but that’s not the whole story.

    Polish is only one component of shoe care; you’ll need more to preserve a pair of beautiful leather boots in good condition while also making them shine like a mirror.

    But why is this the case?

    Wax Shoe Polish Provides Protection That Cream Doesn’t

    Polishing compounds are widely misunderstood in terms of what they do; wax shoe polish produces a surface layer of substance between the leather and the elements, which you then adjust to achieve the desired appearance.

    It’s similar to the way paint looks on a car.

    Yes, it gives it a specific color, whether white, black, red, or blue, but it also keeps the metal underneath from rusting.

    Wax, which is similar to fats or oils, forms a seal on the surface of the leather.

    On the other hand, Cream polish is simply a pigmented, non-runny liquid that spreads thinly over the surface and fills in cracks, crevices, and crannies, similar to spreading mayonnaise on bread to make a sandwich.


    When you polish your leather boots, you create a layer of polish on the leather, which makes them shine.

    A layer of wax polish gives the toe that high sheen we all like, but it also protects the leather from the elements and minor knocks and dents.

    On the other hand, a cream polish can do things that wax polishes can’t.

    With that said

    Wax polish, and indeed polishing in general, is not the only component of boot maintenance, and neither is it the most significant.

    Consider this: it’s necessary to wash your car to look good, but it’s far more crucial to replace the oil.

    What should you do to preserve a pair of work boots?

    You must condition the leather and protect it from moisture to keep your boots in good shape.

    To some extent, Wax polish can help with the latter but does nothing for the former.

    After all

    Leather is skin, and it, like our skin, has to be hydrated from time to time.

    When your boots are clean, you should use some boot grease or oil to keep the leather fed and hydrated so it stays supple and robust.

    Following that, some waterproofing is recommended, which wax polish can aid.

    After all, it’s just a layer of wax.

    Cream polish won’t protect your boots from the elements and won’t take a shine very well.

    On the other hand, cream polish helps to preserve and nurture them since boot creams, like boot oil or boot grease, provide hydration to the shoe leather, preventing it from drying out and splitting.

    Why It’s a Good Idea to Use Both Types of Shoe Polish

    It’s a good idea to use both types of shoe polish if you want to achieve and keep a great shine.

    It’s labor-intensive to go through the entire process, but it pays off.

    When your boots are clean and dry, apply a layer of cream polish on the surface, smear it about, and wipe away any excess.

    Then, similarly, apply the wax polish, evenly coating the entire surface and removing any excess polish.

    After you’ve applied a good layer of wax polish to your boots or shoes, you can shine them as you choose; a thorough brushing or buffing will give them a lovely matte finish that works well, or get to work with a little damp cloth in a tight swirling pattern to build up that high mirror gloss.

    Bonus Tip for Polishing Your Work Boots: Deodorize

    Deodorize your boots if you want to give them a thorough treatment.

    The most convenient method is to use reusable deodorizing balls or spray.

    If you don’t have any of these, you can substitute them with baking soda or coffee grounds. 

    You can lightly sprinkle the inside of your boot with baking soda and leave it to dry. 

    Keep in mind

    If you deodorize using coffee grounds, make sure they’re completely dry, or you’ll have even more foul foot odors.

    Put a coffee filter (or, much better, a reusable tea bag) in the bottom of your boot.

    Allow the spent dry coffee grinds to rest in the filter for a day or two. 

    Common Questions

    How Do You Make Work Boots Shine?

    How Can I Shine My Work Boots Without Polish?

    How Do I Make Work Boots Shine Like Glass

    In Conclusion

    So, which pair of boots will you be polishing today?

    Is it those worn-out work boots?

    Or do you have plans to go out tonight and need a stylish little edge for the evening?

    In any case, if you follow our tips on how to polish your work boots a shot you will be amazed.

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