How To Polish Leather Boots to Perfection

Your shoes say a lot about you. People can look at your shoes and tell whether you are fashion-forward or like to follow trends. The shoes you wear, how you wear them, and you care for them help people form a first impression when meeting you.

This is why you need to learn how to take good care of your boots. You can make your footwear last longer and look better by learning how to polish leather boots.

What is the best way to polish, shine and condition boots? Which products should you use? How often should you shine your boots?

Let’s find out! Here are some methods you should know about if boots are a staple of your wardrobe.

Method 1 – How To Polish With Kiwi

Kiwi is one of the most well-known brands of shoe polish. You can purchase Kiwi Shoe polish, Kiwi Shoe Care Kit or Deluxe Shine Kit online and at any major retailer or shoe store. 

Kiwi Shoe polish comes in different colors. You absolutely need to purchase a spit shine polish or polish paste that matches the color of your boots.

You are going to need:

  • Your boots
  • A horsehair shine brush.
  • A cloth or rag.
  • An old newspaper.
  • Leather boot polish. You can use polish paste or spit shine polish.
  • A shoe polish brush (only if you use polish paste).

Take a few minutes to watch this video before you get started:

Here is how you can get your boots looking shiny and spotless with some Kiwi polish:

  • Use a cloth to wipe your boots clean. Apply some water if you need to.
  • Let your boots dry if you used water to clean them.
  • Open an old newspaper on the floor so you don’t accidently get polish on your carpet or vinyl flooring.
  • Use the horsehair shine brush to clean your boots.
  • Remove the shoe laces to avoid getting polish on them.
  • If you use spit shine polish, rub the applicator over the boot in small circular motions. If you use a polish paste, you will need to apply the paste with the shoe polish brush. Make sure there is only a small quantity of polish on the brush, and use small circular motions.
  • Use the cloth to get rid of excess polish and shine your shoes.
  • Let the shoes dry.

Pro tip: use a cotton ball dipped in shoe polish to get some extra shine on your heel and toe.

There are other brands of shoe polish you can use for your boots, but Kiwi has been around for more than a century and is known for making quality products.

leather boot polish

Photo by JamesDeMers Licensed under CC0

Pro tip: keep all the items you need to shine and polish your shoes in a small box to make your own shoe shine kit.

If you wear your boots on a daily basis, you should shine them at least twice a month.

You might only need to shine your shoes twice a year for a pair that you wear on a few occasions.

Note that shoes with a glossy finish such as police boots will need to be shined more regularly since they will quickly start looking dull if you don’t properly take care of them.


  • Shining your shoes will make them look brand new.
  • This is something you can easily do at home.
  • Shone polish is inexpensive and nourishes the leather of your boots.


  • Shoe polish stains are hard to get rid of.
  • Your boots will look shiny and glossy when you are done, which might not be the look you want.

Method 2 – How To Shine Boots Without Polish

You might not get the same results as you would with a quality shoe polish, but you can clean and shine your boots with some things you probably have around your home. This is good to know in case you run out of shoe polish or want to shine your shoes without making them look too glossy.

We’re not talking about a spit shine. There are common household items that will nourish the leather of your favorite pair of boots and make them look brand new.

These items are:

  • Olive oil.
  • Vegetable oil.
  • Banana peel.
  • Vinegar
  • Petroleum jelly.

Here is a helpful video that will show you how to shine your shoes with olive oil:

Each one of these household items has its pros and cons:

  • Olive oil and vegetable oil might leave a slight smell behind but will nourish the leather of your boots. You will get a very noticeable glossy look with this method.
  • Using a banana peel is a better alternative if you want a less noticeable gloss, but a banana peel won’t nourish the leather like oil would.
  • Vinegar is great for scuff marks but will leave a smell behind.
  • Petroleum jelly can repair small cracks in the leather and nourish it. Dealing with the excess Petroleum jelly can get messy.

Here is what you will need if you decide to use any of these items to shine your shoes:

  • A cloth or rag.
  • An old newspaper.
  • A small recipient if you decide to use oil or vinegar.
  • Cotton balls for oil, vinegar or Petroleum jelly.

Let’s get started:

  • Use the cloth or rag to get your boots as clean as possible.
  • Lay an old newspaper on the floor to prevent stains.
  • If you decided to use olive or vegetable oil, vinegar or Petroleum jelly, dip a cotton ball in it.
  • Use the cotton ball to rub the oil, vinegar or Petroleum jelly over your boots in small circular motions.
  • If you decided to use a banana peel, all you have to do is rub the inside of the banana peel on your boots.
  • Use the cloth or rag to wipe your boots and get rid of the excess oil or Petroleum jelly.
  • Let your boots dry.
shine boots without polish

Photo by Succo Licensed under CC0

This is a good alternative to using shoe polish if you don’t want to use any chemicals or are out of shoe polish.

Keep in mind that these are methods you can use occasionally but you need to use a quality shoe polish to make your boots last.

Pro tip:  get rid of scuff marks by applying a small quantity of vinegar on the area and using a brush with soft bristles to polish the area.


  • Use any of these items to make your boots look new and shiny in no time.
  • Shine your boots without using any chemicals.
  • Petroleum jelly can repair cracks.
  • Vinegar can remove scuff marks.


  • Some of these things will leave a smell behind.
  • You need to use real shoe polish to make your boots last.

Method 3 – How To Condition Boots

Conditioning leather boots makes them more resistant to dirt and dust. Purchasing a pair of military boots can set you back a few hundreds of dollars, which is why you should look into making your footwear last.

You can condition boots directly after polishing them, but make sure the polish has had enough time to dry. You should condition your boots once a year but can do it more often for boots you wear on a daily basis.

conditioning boots

Photo by Quinntheislander Licensed under CC0

Here is what you will need:

This video will walk you through conditioning your favorite pair of boots:

Here is how you can condition your leather boots:

  • Polish your boots and let them dry.
  • Wipe any dust with the cloth.
  • Remove the laces.
  • Apply a small quantity of leather conditioner or leather oil.
  • Use the soft bristle brush to work the conditioner or oil into the leather.
  • Apply a second coat if you are conditioning old shoes.
  • Let your boots dry.

Finding the right leather conditioner can be difficult because some products will darken your boots. A product like Leather Honey should work on all types of leather, but some conditioners and oils are made specifically for smooth-finished leathers while others are made for oil-tanned leather.

Pro tip: use a waterproofing spray on your boots to add a layer of protection against water and stains once you are conditioning them.


  • Will make your boots last longer.
  • Only takes a few minutes.


  • Can darken your boots.

Method 4 - Make Your Own Leather Conditioner At Home

You might not want to purchase a leather conditioner for an old pair of boots. You can make your own leather conditioner at home with a few simple ingredients and restore leather shoes, no matter how worn-out they look.

This homemade leather condition nourishes the fabric, makes your shoes look clean and shiny, and will reduce the appearance of cracks and scuff marks.

This is what you will need to make your own leather conditioner:

  • A toothbrush.
  • Two cloths or rags.
  • ¼ cup olive oil.
  • ¼ cup vinegar.
  • 10 drops of essential oil.

Note that the olive oil by itself is enough to restore leather and make your boots shine, but an essential oil like lavender, lemon, vanilla, or eucalyptus will mask the strong smell of the vinegar. Besides, these essential oils have anti-bacterial properties and will make your boots cleaner.

leather condition

Photo by Monicore Licensed under CC0

Follow these steps to restore and condition your old leather boots:

  • Mix the olive oil, the vinegar and the essential oil.
  • Use a cloth or rag to wipe your boots as clean as possible.
  • Dip the toothbrush in your homemade leather condition and brush your boots. Don’t be afraid to apply pressure, and spend more time on the areas that look damaged.
  • Use the second cloth or rag to remove the excess conditioner that wasn’t absorbed by the leather.
  • If the vinegar smell is still noticeable, wet the cloth or rag and wipe your boots.
  • Wait for your boots to dry.

Pro tip: you can follow these steps again and apply another coat of conditioner if you aren’t fully satisfied with the result. Try a store-bought conditioner if you are still not happy with the results after applying the homemade conditioner two or three times.

Watch this video to get a better idea of how to apply the leather conditioner:

You can apply a coat of polish once you have restored your old shoes with this leather conditioner to achieve a shinier look. You probably won’t get the same results as you would with a store-bought leather conditioner, but this is a useful trick you should think about using

 if you want to wear an old pair of shoes one more time and can’t justify buying a leather conditioner.

This homemade leather conditioner is also great for breaking in new boots. If you purchased a pair of leather boot that feel too stiff, follow the steps listed above and the olive oil should soften the leather and give it a suppler feel.

There is no need to use the vinegar since you are not trying to remove any stains.


  • Quick way to make old boots look new again.
  • Your boots will look clean and shiny.
  • You might already have the ingredients at home.


  • Not as efficient as a store-bought leather conditioner.
  • The vinegar smells.


Did you find these tips on how to polish boots useful? Were you already familiar with some of these methods? Take a few seconds to share this article and let us know what you thought in the comments.

If you decide to use some of the polishing and shining methods discussed above, share your experience with us. Let us know about the products you used and what you thought about them. And share some before and after pictures of your boots, we love to see old boots completely transformed with a little bit of leather oil!

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