How to Clean Dress Shoes

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Every man and woman needs to have a variety of dress shoes to choose from. Whether you're attending a formal event, such as a wedding or a funeral, or if you're employed in a professional work environment, you'll want to have an assortment of quality footwear.

Sneakers and running shoes are not acceptable in many workplaces, and it's crucial to your image wear shoes that look decent.

Dress shoes can look very worn if you're using the same pair every day. They tend to get dirty, especially if they're made out of leather. Then your once beautiful looking dress shoes can appear neglected and unattractive.

This is why cleaning dress shoes is essential. Like any wardrobe article, you need to wash, clean, and dry them to reduce smells and make them look new again. Why should shoes be any different?

How to Clean Dress Shoes

We have included a straightforward process on how to clean shoes, so you can get them looking like new again. For you to stay organized, we recommend that you buy a shoe shine kit. This is going to be your new best friend.

Professional Shoe Shine Supplies

Rather than separately purchasing every item you need, shoe shine kits are going to come with all the tools and resources at a lower price. Every kit should come with the polish, brushes for the shoes, a brush with horse hair, a buffing cloth (even though you can use any white handkerchief or old t-shirt), and a case to carry all of these items.

Many shoe brands have their own specific shining kit that will benefit the shoes of that brand. Check the dress shoe brand that you own and see if there's a particular kit they sell that will complement your shoe even further.

Once you have the kit, you need to determine the area you're going to use to shine your shoes. This is important because you need proper lighting and you need an area free from dirt and dust.

The shoe polish will stain items, so keep this space away from anything you don't want to be stained in the process. We recommend maybe doing this in a well-lit garage. Lay down a tarp, newspapers, or garbage bags on the floor before you start the process.

Next, it's time to prepare the shoe. The first thing to do is remove the laces. Once that is done, you'll want to clean all the exterior dirt and grime that's on the shoe.

We recommend using a horsehair brush that comes with a wooden handle. It should be able to buff the shoe and also wipe off any dirt.

For an added cleaning, take a cloth and add a little warm water and soap. You don't want the cloth to be very wet, so make sure it's rung out.

If you have polished the shoes before and want to get rid of the old polish, use nail polish remover to take it off.

If the shoe is leather, it's time to wash and condition the leather. There are many specialized products to do this, such as saddle soap, and it protects the leather and makes it look like new again.

There are also leather conditioners available on the market that you can apply easily.

When you polish the shoe, you're going to want to cover it with a generous amount of polish, using a shoe polish applicator brush to get it everywhere. You will then have to brush the shoe vigorously to remove all the excess polish that you don't need.


By following the guide above, you'll get your shoes looking like new again. You'll be amazed that by keeping up with the maintenance of your shoes, they're going to last longer and will save you money by not having to buy new pairs of shoes as often.

We recommend looking up tutorials on YouTube as well, if you're doing it for the first time, as having a visual guide will sometimes help you.

Last Updated on April 2, 2020 by

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