This is a longer process, but it is satisfying, therapeutic and produces an excellent result if you can set aside a little time every now and again. Put on some nice music and become a shoe-care craftsperson …
1) Take the laces out of the shoes (and your feet or their shoe trees. You did have shoe trees in, didn’t you?).
2) Use a stiff brush (cheap nail brush?) to get any loose dirt off the uppers and soles. Pay especial attention to the welt and under the eyelets, where gunge can collect, and to any broguing. A cocktail stick is useful for rootling gunk out of broguing.
3) Use a damp cloth to get any stubborn dirt off. Let the shoes dry.
4) Make a cup of tea if your shoes are drying. Or pour yourself a nice beer. Or a G and T. Or …
5) Work some kind of cream into the soles, if they are leather. Neutral shoe cream or some kind of leather conditioner works, and so do things like Nivea, aimed at human skin. If it’s good enough for a baby’s bum, it’s good enough for your leather soles. Leave this to sink in and dry off naturally while you get on with the rest of the job. Don’t scrub or wipe it off. Make sure that it is dry before you go walkies.
6) Work a small amount of cream or polish well into the uppers with a small brush (one for each colour) and/or a cloth (cheap microfibre cloths are good). Don’t slather it on like plaster – but work it well into the leather and the seams. Get it on to the tongue as well, under the eyelets. Don’t put on too much, as that just makes more to take off.
7) Use an old toothbrush (one for each colour) to work polish or wax well into the welt, if there is one … into its stitching and the edge of the sole.
8) Leave things as long as you can. Perhaps do another pair of shoes? Set up a bit of production line?
9) Make another cup of tea. Or pour yourself another nice beer. Or a G and T. etc. In fact – get a biscuit or some crisps/peanuts as well. You deserve it.
10) Buff the shoe with a softer brush (one for each colour). Pay special attention to broguing – to make sure that you don’t leave any wax or cream in the holes. It will catch dirt and look naff, so rootle out anything that has got lodged in the broguing. A cocktail stick is quite good for this purpose.
11) Finish buffing with a soft cloth.
13) Put either your feet (with a shoe horn) or shoe trees in the shoes, depending upon what is to happen to them next.
14) Sit back and admire your handiwork – and enjoy your tea/beer/G and T and nice music.