The first signs of spring are finally here, it almost reaches zero during the day then is icy cold again at night which means out comes the salt and sand to prevent slips on the sidewalks. It also means white spots and mucky sand all over my nice leather work shoes. Shoe's aren't cheap so one has to spend some time on upkeep. I polished them up and now they're back to looking fine.
The first step to polishing shoes is to clean them, I use a clean damp rag to get off any salt, mud or even just dust. I use a dry rag to take off any excess moisture. Once completely dry, I sray them with some store bought "weather-spray." You can usually find these type of sprays at any shoe store, they last a long time and really do protect your shoes, just make sure to read the directions because some of them aren't good for all leather types (suede for example). Once the spray has dried you are ready to start polishing. I use two old socks to polish my shoes, one for applying the polish, the other for buffing.
Rub the sock in the polish, then rub the polish filled part of the sock on your shoe in a circular motion, you want the leather to be covered but not have a noticable excess of polish on the shoe. You will probably have to grab polish a couple of times to cover the whole shoes.
Once the shoe is covered in polish, take your buffing sock and rub off the polish, again in a cicular motion. You'll notice that the leather goes from a matte to slighly shiny. You will need to use some pressure to get a good shine so it's best to have one hand in the shoe while buffing.
If you haven't polished your shoes in awhile or they are really scuffed you will probably have to repeat the whole process again to get a good shine. Also, rough leather (like the shoes I'm polishing in the pictures) will never get a really good shine, only a slight sheen.
and for your amusement, I found some hilarious vintage shoe polish ads on the blog "Found in Mom's Basement." You should check it out because they have a bunch of other good ones.
Images from Found in Mom's Basement, found March 13/2011.