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5 November, 2005

Random queries no.11

One of a series of genuine search engine enquiries which successfully brought visitors to the Ministry.  Can I help?

how do you polish boots

If they're dirty, clean them. If the boots get wet, let them dry completely before proceeding.

I use Kiwi 'Parade Gloss' premium shoe polish (the price difference between 'premium' and basic shoe polish is trivial, so don't waste money on false economy); what I mean is standard, wax & turpentine-based shoe polish, as sold as a solid 'cake' in a small round tin. I understand the US version of 'Parade Gloss' is not the same, replacing the turpentine with silicone. I don't know whether the result is as good.

Open the tin and place it under a desk lamp. Switch the the lamp on.... My lamp has a mirror-backed high-intensity bulb, so the desk becomes appreciably warm after a few minutes. Hence, the top few millimetres of the shoe polish will melt.

Using a clean rag, transfer a little polish to a boot, and work it in. This is far better done with semi-liquid polish than cold, as it's easier, quicker and penetrates the leather very well.
This vigorous massage tends to remove even quite major scuffs, and not only by filling them with polish.
Give the boots a good coverage, but only leave a thin film on the surface – a thick, lumpy coating is just a waste of polish. The finish should be fairly smooth, but entirely matt.

I suppose that by the time the second boot is finished, one could proceed with the next stage on the first boot, but I prefer to give the polish a little longer to penetrate (that'll only happen in a warm room, of course). Go and have a cup of tea, and try to scrub the shoe polish off your hands. Turpentine is an irritant.

Next, wet the cloth – not saturated and dripping, just thoroughly damp. Use this (not necessarily the part already stained black) to polish the boots until a shine begins to appear. Only 'begins' – don't try for presentation-quality with the cloth.

The miracle stage involves a soft, standard shoe brush. Use this to briskly yet gently polish the surface – don't scrub! I can rarely prevent myself grinning as this point, as I suddenly seem to have patent boots. No, not patent: this process gives a richer shine than just a glossy surface. The extra effort really is worthwhile.

I do all this once every 5-6 weeks, but maintain the finish weekly or as required using a liquid wax polish – the type that looks like a tall roll-on deodorant with a sponge tip. This is very quick to apply, and can give a good, immediate shine, but note that it doesn't 'feed' the leather in the same way as solid polish, and the patent shine on the surface doesn't have the same depth as solid polish worked into the leather. It's a top-up, but no substitute for the real thing.

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