How to Polish Leather School Shoes

The Facts

  • What to expect: Dirty hands, possibly sore arms and hands, clean shoes and long stares.
  • Timing: 15-30 minutes
  • Equipment required: Cleaning brush, polishing brush, shoe polish that matches shoe colour, cleaning cloth, and water.


You can tell a lot about a person by how they look after their shoes, this is also true of a child’s parents. Part respect, part pride, call it what you will clean shoes look good and your kids will walk a little taller if their footwear is sharp.


Shoe Cleaning Kit

First you’ll need to assemble a kit, below are the basics.

  • At least two brushes, I’ll explain why later.
  • Shoe polish, the colour of the shoe you wish to polish. I like Kiwi Parade Gloss Black for black leather shoes.
  • A polishing rag.
  • a small bowl of water, or simply your own spit.
  • An old towel, to protect your cloths and floor.



First remove any laces on the shoe, if you polish onto them then you’ll find your hands will turn black every time you tie your shoes.

Brush One

The first thing to do is clean off any filth and dust that has accumulated on the leather parts of the shoe, for this you’ll use your cleaning brush. This brush should never be used to apply polish, it’s only role is to clean the shoe and remove particulates.


Brush the entire leather outer with this brush, being sure to get rid of all dirt, dust, undesirables and random globs of kid mess.
You don’t need apply a lot of pressure, but be sure to get all the grime off.

Brush Two

Load your polishing brush with shoe polish, you need just enough to cover the tip of the brush without it being clumpy. Chose an end to apply this, you do not need to load the whole brush, just one end.

Rub it gently on all exposed leather surfaces in concentric circles, paying special attention to the toe and heal areas as these are generally the most scuffed and most visible.


You want a good coverage on all outside leather parts, not incredibly thick, just a good layer, make sure all scuffs and scratches are well covered.

Leave the shoes to sit for about 5 minutes and then brush this coat off with the clean brush and finish by giving the whole shoe a good rub with the cleaning cloth.

Spit Polish

Once all residual polish is off drip some water on the toe (we’ll be focusing on the toe as this is the most visible part of a shoe).


Load your polish brush again and rub it gently into the damp area using circular motions. You want to do this until all of the water is gone.

Once the water and polish has been worked into the shoe buff it vigorously with the cleaning cloth. I like to clutch the shoe between my knees and pull the cloth back and forth like an accordion.


Repeat this process several times (apply water, polish, buff), you can pretty much do this infinitely but at some point it’ll become an exercise in futility.

To finish up the polishing apply a thin layer of polish over the whole shoe and then buff off with the cleaning cloth.

The Final Buff

Finish up by buffing the whole shoe with the cloth to get any left over polish off, black polish is hard to get out of school uniforms so give it a good rub down.


In the end you should have restored the shoes to a decent condition, something that you and your kid should be proud of.



Many thanks




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