Combat Boots

How to First Shine Military-Style Leather Boots

If you are planning on joining the military or like to wear military uniforms, particularly the black steel-toe boots, you'll need to know how to shine them. If you plan on taking the easy way out and using Leather Luster (which looks horrible and fake after a few weeks), don't bother reading any further. But if you want your shine to look professional and real, keep on reading. Applying this technique will make for a beautiful boot that you can eat off of and make a drill instructor tear up with joy.

1) Gather your supplies, soldier! You'll need a bag of cotton balls, alcohol, ice-cold water, Kiwi shoe polish, a lighter, Kiwi edge finish and either nylon panty hose or a cut-up t-shirt about 4"x8". If you do the shining inside the house, get some newspaper, too. Put on some old sweat pants that you don't mind getting dirty.

2) Strip and shower. Get the factory gunk off the boots by rubbing alcohol all over your boot. Use some cloth, dip it with rubbing alcohol, and apply. Then take the laces out and put your boots in a warm shower. This breaks 'em in a little easier to take in the wax. It's almost like opening up the pores for your boots. Let them sit in the shower for 10 minutes and then take them out.

3) Apply heat. Sometimes you see people set the boot wax on fire before putting it on the boot. That's just too messy and doesn't work all that well. The best way to get the boot to accept the wax is to heat the boot itself. Start in sections so that the wax takes faster. For instance, heat up just the steel toe area of the boot for about 10 seconds before you do step 4. Then do the heel and repeat step 4 again.

4) Give the boot a waxing. Once you've applied heat to the appropriate area, take a cotton ball and swipe about a thumbnail's worth of Kiwi wax onto it. Dip it into the cold water and then apply to the heated area. Use small circles until the entire area is covered. You'll need to do this fairly quickly so that you don't lose the heat. Repeat the process for the heel and the sides of the boot. Once you've covered the entire area, set the boot aside and to the same for the opposite boot.

5) Buff and repeat. Once the boot has cooled for about 5 minutes (usually the time it takes to apply wax to one boot), take your cotton balls and dip them in cold water. Use the small-circle technique again to each area of the boot that was waxed. Once you've done each boot, do the heat/wax/buff pattern one more time. Then just do a wax/buff with no heat.

6) Finish it off. After the third coat of wax, you'll finish the boot off with a smooth final buffing. The best thing to use is pantyhose if you can get it. Hold the boot between your legs. Grab each end of pantyhose with your hands, stretch it out, and run it over the steel toe of the boot vigorously for 20 seconds. Repeat the same for the heel area. You can use wet cotton balls for the sides. If you don't have pantyhose lying around, use a cut up T-shirt that isn't already mucked up with stuff and do the same thing.

7) Edge dressing. Once you're finished, your boot should have lost the dullness of a new boot and have a little shine to it. Finish the edges with edge dressing and let your boots dry.

You can upkeep the shine by doing this at least once a month on your boots. For just a general shine, skip the heat part of the process and use the cotton ball-and-wax technique once a week on them. Buff out surface scratches with nylon or a cloth. Now you're ready to look like a professional member of the military!

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License