How To Polish Police Boots- Boot Shining Guide
How to Clean Boots - Blauer How to Clean Boots - Blauer

How To Polish Police Boots- The Ultimate Boot Shining Guide

To shine your police boots to a glossy mirror finish, you’ll need to gather the right supplies and follow our easy step-by-step guide to create that polished, spit-shine look you’re after. We asked former Massachusetts State Trooper Rick Cronin to share his secrets, so keep an eye out for Rick’s tips throughout. Gather your patience alongside the essential tools, and let’s learn how to polish police boots.

Spit-Shine Supply List

Before you begin the labor of love that is shining your police boots, you’ll want to make sure you have all the necessary materials. Everyone has their own “perfect shine kit” that they swear by, but we’ve gathered intel from across the internet and the industry to provide the ultimate list:


How to Clean Tactical Boots- Blauer How to Clean Tactical Boots- Blauer

Mandatory Items

  • Wax shoe polish. Be sure to use polish that matches the color of your boots, or use a neutral polish. Rick swears by Kelley’s of Lynn Shoe Stain, but Kiwi Parade Gloss is another good option.
  • Horsehair shine brush. Horsehair is less likely to scratch or damage your boots than synthetic brushes. A soft toothbrush is a good back up—just avoid hard bristles.
  • 100% Cotton Polishing Cloths. Use a nice, clean cloth. This is your key tool for polishing.
  • Water. There are alternatives to water—more on that below.
Cleaning Leather Boots - Blauer Cleaning Leather Boots - Blauer

Optional Items

  • Rubbing Alcohol. Some prefer to use rubbing alcohol in place of water when shining their police or tactical boots.
  • Aftershave. Yes, you read that right. We’ve seen that some pros swear by Aqua Velva Aftershave (Sport Variant). If you choose to go this route, there are some slightly different steps to follow. We’ll get to that later.
  • Saliva. If you’re a purist and want a literal spit shine, then that is an option, but it’s not without risk. Refer to our What to Avoid list for more info.
  • Cotton balls. You can use these in place of, or in conjunction with, the cotton polishing cloths. That just comes down to your preference.
  • Cotton swabs. These can help you get into seams and other crevices more easily.

Prep Your Boots

Pick a place to work where you’re not worried about making a mess, because—especially if it’s your first time—things can certainly get messy. Before you can polish your boots to a perfect shine, you need to clean them up. 


How to Clean Suede Boots - Blauer How to Clean Suede Boots - Blauer

Enter the horsehair brush. Use the brush (dampened if you like) to thoroughly clean any dirt off of your boots. Place a hand inside to brace it, and clean every surface, including the soles. If the brush isn’t getting into the creases and tight spots well enough, dampen a cloth or cotton swab to get in those hard-to-reach places. Your toothbrush is another good tool for cleaning along the Welt and other tight spots.

This would be a good time to remove the laces from your boots so you can clean the tongue and eyelets too.

Finally, Rick recommends packing your boot with rags to help give it form, which gives you a more solid base to polish against.


Step-by-Step: Polishing Your Police Boots

Now that your boots have been cleaned and properly prepped, let's get right in to how to polish your police boots or combat boots to that perfect shine with a step-by-step guide from Rick...


How to Dry Boots Properly - Blauer How to Dry Boots Properly - Blauer

1. Start with a base coat. 

You can skip this step if your boots already have a base coat. Otherwise, start with these steps to give your police boots a good starting base coat. This will help create a smooth, even surface for the polish, making it easier to get that shiny mirror-finish later on. 

  1. Using a soft cloth or applicator brush, apply a generous layer of polish using small circular motions. Wrap the cloth around your index and middle finger and pull it tight over the fingers to create a firm, smooth surface.
  2. Let that boot dry for about 15 minutes. While it dries, start working on the other boot.
  3. Once they’ve dried, remove excess polish by scrubbing the boots with your cleaning brush or a dry cotton cloth. Your duty boots won’t be shiny yet, so don’t worry about that.
  4. Let the boots dry for 5 more minutes. You could lace your boots back up now.
How to clean your dirty tactical boots - Blauer How to clean your dirty tactical boots - Blauer

2. Properly apply polish.

Once your boots are cleaned and prepped, you’re ready to start polishing your police boots. 

  1. Once again, wrap a clean, dry cotton cloth around your index and middle finger and pull it tight over the fingers to create a firm, smooth surface.
  2. Rub the cloth in the polish and apply it to your boots with small, circular motions. Most people start at the toe end and work their way across the entire surface of the boot. Pick up more polish on your cloth as needed.

*TIP: Keep in mind that this is a thinner coat than your base coat, so start with a small amount of polish. Remember, you can always add more if you feel the need. Once you’ve applied a thin, even layer of polish to both boots, you’re ready to work on that glossy finish.

How to clean your dirty tactical boots - Blauer How to clean your dirty tactical boots - Blauer

3. Wrap a fresh cloth around your fingers and dampen it with room-temperature water. The water is what will actually bring out the shine, so be sure to keep the cloth or cotton balls damp, but not dripping wet. If you’re seeing droplets on your boot, you’re using too much water. Here you can use one of the water alternatives such as your own saliva, rubbing alcohol, or even aftershave.

4. Pick up some more polish with the damp cloth and use the same small, circular motions as before to apply the polish. Note that if you’re using aftershave you might see faint white streaks at first. This is normal, don’t panic. As the alcohol in the aftershave evaporates they’ll dissipate. 

5. Repeat this process a few times with each boot. The shine will become glossier as you go, so repeat it at least three to four times or until the boots have reached your desired level of shine. Use a little less polish each time—by the end you should be just dabbing in the polish.

*TIP: Frequently reposition your polishing rag on your fingers so you have a new damp area of the rag to use.

How to Clean your Duty Boots- Blauer How to Clean your Duty Boots- Blauer

6. After the polish has dried on the boots, it’s time to buff them. Take a deep breath and breathe onto the spot you’re shining and using a fresh cloth or cotton ball, buff the boots with small, fast circles. The condensation from your breath will help make your boots shiny. Repeat this buffing process until you get the level of shine you want.

7. As an optional last step, put some polish on an old toothbrush and rub it on the welts of your boots to deepen their color. Additionally, you can focus a little extra on places you want to be especially shiny, such as the toe.

What To Avoid

Over the years, former Massachusetts State Trooper Rick Cronin has perfected the process of shining police boots, and part of his know-how stems from knowing what not to do. These are his top things to avoid:


How to Clean your Duty Boots- Blauer How to Clean your Duty Boots- Blauer
  • Avoid spit: the enzymes that are located in your saliva are the first digestive process to break down the food you consume. Leather is an organic material and saliva eventually breaks down the wax and leather of your boot. Also, what cobbler would want to handle a boot loaded with spit in this day and age?
  • Do not melt off old wax with lighter fluid and a flame
  • Do not apply alcohol to a leather boot
  • Do not boil the wax off. Build the wax up. High spots or imperfections in the shine can be re-polished and buffed to equal out the shine.


How Often Should I Polish My Boots?
It’s good practice to polish your boots regularly. Doing so keeps your appearance squared away and professional, and helps to extend the life of your boots. Polishing once a week would ensure a continuous sharp appearance, and you can always spot-shine as needed.

How Do I Weatherproof My Boots?
Some boots are already waterproof, but leather can be damaged by water exposure, so it might be a good idea to take additional action to protect your duty boots. Use a silicone spray for new boots, or apply a leather wax sealant for boots that you've had with you on the job for a while.

How to Handle Suede Boots?
We don’t recommend using this shining process for suede military boots. To improve the look of suede boots, simply cleaning them will go a long way.

How Do I Strip My Boots?
To remove all the polish off of your boots, some recommend carefully pouring boiling water over them. However, Rick does not support this method. Rather than boiling the wax off, Rick says to build the wax up. High spots or imperfections in the shine can be re-polished and buffed to equal out the shine.

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