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How to Polish Military & Tactical Boots

Polishing your tactical boots is one of the most beneficial things you can do to increase their durability and lifespan. With regular polishing you'll have a squared away look, and help prevent any future cracking or flaking. Although the process is time consuming, with a little patience you can achieve that perfectly glossy finish. Before getting started, you'll need to gather a few supplies:

  • Shoe polish
  • Cleaning brush
  • Applicator brush
  • Cotton balls
  • 100% cotton cloth
  • Water

Horsetail bristle brushes are typically found in basic shoe shining kits. This material is much less likely to damage the leather on your boots. Follow our guide below to start shining your boots.

Step 1

First, make sure your boots are dirt and dust free. Remove the laces from your boots and slightly dampen the cleaning brush. Use the cleaning brush to remove debris using a gentle back-and-forth motion. Be sure to clean the crevices between the tongue and eyelets.

Step 2

The next step is to apply a base coat of shoe polish. Dip the applicator brush into the polish and apply an even, generous layer using small circular motions. This can also be done with a damp cotton cloth instead of a brush, if preferred. Let dry for about 15 minutes. While it's drying, go ahead and repeat this process on the other boot.

Step 3

Remove excess polish using the cleaning brush or a clean, dry cotton cloth. Then let the boots dry for another 5 minutes. This is also a good time to lace your boots back up.

Step 4

Apply a new, thin coat of polish. This time, be sure to use a damp cloth or cotton ball, the water is what's bringing out the shine. Use small circular motions to apply the polish, dampening as needed. Repeat this step at least three to four more times on each boot, letting each layer sit for a few minutes. If you prefer a more traditional spit shine look, use your own saliva instead of water.

Step 5

Using a new cotton ball or clean 100% cotton cloth, buff the boots with a few back and forth strokes. To further increase shine, you can breathe onto the boot and then buff.

Tactical boots should be thoroughly polished once a week, and touched up between polishes. This is a time-intensive process and does require patience, especially if you're striving for that high-gloss finish or traditional spit-shine look. We do not recommend using this process for any kind of suede military boots.

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