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Polish Those Shoes!

by Ryan Guina

polished shoesWhat does polishing shoes have to do with personal finance? A lot more than you might think at first. Polishing your shoes saves you money, and can have a positive effect on your career.

Polishing shoes saves you money: How? By protecting and extending the life of your shoes. Shoe polish is usually a wax or oil based product and a regular coat of polish will provide some waterproofing protection and keep dirt, oils, stains, and other substances from getting ingrained into the leather in your shoes. These foreign substances will more quickly degrade the leather quality, and ultimately ruin the shoes.

Polish helps prevent scuffs and scrapes from ruining the leather, and can also have a moisturizing effect on the leather which also helps extend the life of your shoes. Untreated or unpolished leather shoes easily get scuffed, scraped, and will eventually dry out and crack.

I have a nice pair of black leather shoes I have worn about 3 times a week for the last 4 years and with the exception of the soles, they still look new. I have a pair of brown shoes that I have owned for 1 year with similar wear, and I have had the same results. With proper care, I fully expect these shoes to give me several more years of wear.

Good for your career: Would you wear a dirty, wrinkled shirt to the office? No way! So why would you do that with your shoes? Polished shoes say something about a man or woman, and studies have shown that dress and appearance has a major factor in perceived ability in the workplace. Dress and appearance is a major factor in a first impression, and that first impression is often the lasting impression. Polishing your shoes is a must when preparing for an interview!

What you need to polish your shoes: At the minimum, you need a jar of polish (or bottle of cream or oil) and a rag. I personally prefer to use a shoe polish kit that includes a jar of polish, a dauber (applicator), and a shoe brush. A decent show polishing kit is inexpensive – usually only around $7-10. I use one shoe brush for all my shoes, but I use a different dauber for applying black polish and neutral polish, which I use on my brown leather shoes. You can find polishes in all ranges of qualities and prices, but I use Kiwi shoe polish, which is a good quality polish at an inexpensive price. It’s also very easy to find.

How to do polish your shoes: First you want to lay down a layer of newspaper or a plastic garbage bag to prevent polish from getting on your work surface. Next, clean the shoes by brushing away any dust, dirt, oils, or any other foreign substances. If your shoes are very dirty, clean them with a moist rag and allow them to dry before applying any polish. After this, you are ready to get started.

Apply a small amount of polish in a circular motion. Pay special attention to cracks and scuffs, and be sure to cover the entire shoe. Allow the polish to dry for a few minutes before buffing the shoe. At this point, your shoe will have a very dull appearance. This is normal.

Next, grab your shoe brush or a rag, and use quick light strokes to buff the polish. If you use a rag, be sure to use a thin, soft cloth and add a few drops of water, which will help in the buffing process. Another trick I learned in the military was using wet cotton balls to get a mirror-like shine. Personally, I think the shoe brush is the quickest, easiest, and most effective method for getting a shine worthy of your church or workplace. A mirror-like polish is not necessary.

How often should you polish your shoes?: You should polish your shoes as needed, which is usually about once a month with regular wear. In between wearings, you should wipe off accumulated dust and dirt to keep them looking clean and new. You can also buff them with your shoe brush or rag to bring back the shine.

The benefits are many, the cost is little. So polish your shoes! :)

photo credit: pdsimao.


Published or updated December 9, 2010.
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