The days of shining up your shoes to look professional are certainly not in the past. Shoe shine kits are great for men and women, but they tend to be marketed toward men. The best shoe shine kits will contain everything you need to give your leather shoes a boost and help them to look brand new. But, which shoe shiner can you count on?
Whether you’re giving a shoe shine kit as a gift (such as a Groomsmen gift at a wedding) or want one for yourself, it’s important to know what you’re getting, and why it works so well.
For men especially, it’s easy to ignore our shoes even if you put a lot of time and effort into other aspects of your wardrobe. But, shoes should be given even more care and attention than other parts of your ensemble. They tend to go through the most wear and tear on a regular basis. They are prone to things like scuffing and scratching. It doesn’t take long for a pair of smart shoes to start looking dull and old.
Thankfully, shoe shiners exist so you don’t have to go out and purchase a new pair of work or dress shoes. They are effective when it comes to cleaning, polishing, and buffing your shoes. A quality kit will contain everything you need to make your shoes look like new in a short amount of time.
Table of Contents:
- 1 What’s the Best Shoe Shine Kit?
- 1.1 What Are the Parts of a Shoe Shine Kit?
- 1.2 How to Use a Shoe Shine Kit
- 1.3 What Is the Best Shoe Polish?
- 1.4 Why Is a Shoe Shine Brush So Important?
- 1.5 Do I Need a Professional Shoe Shine Kit?
- 1.6 Other Related Articles:
What’s the Best Shoe Shine Kit?
This guide will focus on five of the best professional shoe shine kits. We will offer a short review of each. These reviews will include what is in the kit, how it works, and what you can expect with regular use. We’ll also quickly cover any significant pros or cons of each kit, so you can make the best determination as to which box will work for you.
First, you should know the parts of a shoe shine kit, and how to use it. They may still be useful and even necessary, but a lot of people may not know how to use them properly. Let’s cover the ins and outs of a shoe shine kit with a box before diving into the best brands.
What Are the Parts of a Shoe Shine Kit?
Shoe shine boxes should always contain several distinct components. There are certain tools necessary to ensure you’re getting a quality product and to know you’ll have everything you need to make your shoes look like new.
Some of the kits listed below will contain more items. While many times these ‘extras’ aren’t necessary, they can be nice to have, and will often be put to good use. When it comes to the basics, though, you should look for the following with any great shine kit:
- A tin of polish
- A shine cloth
- A polish applicator (horsehair works best)
- A shine brush
Again, these are the very basic tools necessary to polish your shoes and remove scuffing. Each kit will be slightly different. Even if they contain the same tools, you have to look at the quality of those tools (and the polish) to determine which is better.
Some boxes will contain bonus items, such as:
- A foot rest – These are becoming more and more common in luxury kits. They allow you to rest your foot while polishing your shoe. It mimics the feel of an old shoe shine parlor. From a practical standpoint, being able to have your foot slightly elevated also ensures you won’t miss a spot while buffing and polishing.
- Disposable gloves – Some polishes can cause staining to your skin. While in most cases you won’t have to touch the polish directly, accidents do happen. Some people prefer wearing disposable gloves when polishing their shoes. It will keep the wax and any unwanted smells away.
- Edge dressing – Polishing wax typically focuses on the toe and heel surface areas of the shoes. Edge dressing is a spray that protects your heel and sole edges while restoring the color. Many of them come with an included sponge tip to make the application even easier.
You should always look at the basics of a kit to determine its quality, instead of which extra features it contains. These extras can be nice to have, but don’t let them take away from the main components. Often, the more extras, the lower quality the key tools.
When choosing the right kit for your personal needs, it’s also necessary to think about how you’ll be using it. Some people prefer a more solid kit they can keep in their homes. For others, a more portable version is necessary for travel. Determine what you’ll be using the kit for and how often you’ll need to take it with you. If you have a solid wood shoe kit, for example, it may not be the best choice for air travel.
How to Use a Shoe Shine Kit
Once you have a shoe shine kit, you’ll need to know how to use shine your shoes. After taking out the components, it may seem pretty self-explanatory. But, it’s more than simply rubbing some polish on top of your shoes. Properly polishing and cleaning your shoes should be done in a few steps. This will ensure even coverage and will help your shoes look shiny and new.
Follow the steps below for best results:
- Clean your shoes thoroughly using a slightly damp rag or the included shine brush.
- Using a polish applicator, apply a layer of the included polish all over the leather.
- Give the polish time to dry. It can take up to 15 minutes.
- Brush away any excess polish from the shoes.
- Buff gently with a shine cloth in circular motions. Pay special attention to the heel and toe areas.
To make shining your shoes easier, you can use a foot rest (sometimes included in a kit) or prop the shoes up on something. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting a clear picture of what they look like. So, use good lighting and make sure you can see every inch of the shoe as it’s being cleaned. You don’t want to miss a spot.
If done correctly, your shoes should look clean, shiny, and new by the time you’re done. You can repeat this process as needed once your shoes start to look dull and scuffed again.
Kiwi Shoe Shine Valet Kit
Kiwi is a trusted brand in shoe care. They develop everything from stretching creams to quality polishes. So, it’s no wonder their professional shoe shine kit makes the list as one of the top professional choices. Not only is the polish itself one of the best on the market, but this particular kit contains everything you need for a perfect shine.
This valet kit includes:
- 2 Kiwi Select polish tins
- 2 soft shine cloths
- 2 sponge daubers
- 2 horsehair shoe shine brushes
- 1 shoe horn
The kit comes in a convenient box to hold everything, and the box has a comfortable foot rest on top so you can get an even cleaning every time. Because it contains two of everything, you can be sure the product will last a long time. You can even use one set of the tools for home use, and one for travel if you’re willing to remove it from the box.
- Contains two different polish colors (brown and black)
- A box can be reused or hold other shoe/polishing accessories
- Uses horsehair shine brushes to reduce scratching
- Foot pedal on top is only big enough for up to a size 13 shoe
- Soft shine cloths may wear out quickly
Overall, this Kiwi shoe shine kit is one of the best on the market for its value, durability, and reputation to long-standing quality. When most men think of what a great kit should include, everything within this box comes to mind. Plus, it comes from an easily-recognizable and well-trusted brand.
Check the Price of the Kiwi Shoe Shine Valet Kit on Amazon!
Florsheim Cedar Box Shine Kit
This kit promotes everything that is luxurious about shining your shoes. The Florsheim company has been making shoes and shoe products since the 1800s, and their quality stands the test of time. One of the unique things about this shoe valet is that it is made from 100% cedar. This gives it lasting power and ensures a fresh scent for whatever you choose to store within the box. It comes with:
- 2 polish tins (black and brown)
- Polishing brush
- Buffing brush
- Shammy cloth
- Shoe horn
Because of the quality of the individual products in the kit, you can expect them to last a long time. While the polish and tools will work best on Florsheim shoes, they are designed to work on any leather dress shoes.
- Contains a cedar footrest for easy polishing
- Two different brushes for polishing and buffing
- Made in the United States
- Storage box is relatively small and may not be able to hold additional polishes
For a compact solution for shining your shoes, this is a great product. It is a bit smaller than some other kits that contain the same types of tools. However, that makes it more convenient to give someone as a gift or store away discreetly for yourself. With two different polishing creams and two tools to get the job done, you can make sure every pair of professional shoes you own look great at any given time.
Check the Price of the Florsheim Men's Cedar Shine Box on Amazon!
- Moneysworth & Best Military Shoe Shine Kit
A professional shoe shine kit doesn’t have to break the bank. You can still find quality tools and polishes from a kit that isn’t overly expensive. Sometimes, the basic equipment works the best. You’ll discover that when using this 5-piece kit. It’s great for those who have never used a professional kit before but still want to experience how luxurious and beneficial they can be before making a larger investment. This convenient case includes:
- Black paste polish
- Polishing cloth
- Shoe horn
- Dauber brush
- Shine brush
This kit is advertised for ‘military’ wear, but it can be used on any type of leather shoes or boots, no matter how rough they are. If it can get shoes to military standard, imagine what it can do to your business dress shoes!
- Great value
- Convenient carrying case
- Easy to use
- Makes a great gift
- Only contains one type/color of polish
- Nylon carrying case doesn’t allow for additional product storage
While this particular kit may not look as luxurious as some of the others on this list, it’s a great starter option. It’s also inexpensive enough to use as a secondary polishing kit for travel. The clear nylon case makes it convenient to take with you wherever you go, even on a plane. Whether you’re giving it as a gift or want the extra convenience for yourself, you’ll love the shine offered by this military-grade polishing kit.
Check the Price of the Moneysworth & Best Military Shoe Shine Kit on Amazon!
FeetPeople Valet Shoe Shine Kit
The FeetPeople brand didn’t skimp on quality for any part of this shoe valet. The FeetPeople Valet Shoe Shine Kit comes in a solid maple box, finished in a dark mahogany color. The box is large and durable and fits multiple tools. In fact, nearly every piece of equipment you’ll need for a quality shoe shine is doubled within this kit. That boosts its lasting power, while still giving you extra room for more of your favorite polishes, clothes, etc. The kit includes:
- 2 shine brushes made from horsehair
- 2 Kiwi shoe polishes
- 2 shine cloths
- Shoe horn
- 2 sponge daubers
Whether you need to polish military boots or dress shoes, the quality products within this kit have you covered. The FeetPeople company has combined quality brands like Kiwi with durable horsehair brushes and soft shine cloths to create the ultimate solution to a luxury shining kit.
- Contains multiple tools and polishes (brown and black)
- Foot rest for easy buffing and polishing
- Soft pads on the bottom of the box so it won’t damage floors or furniture
- May be too small to hold many additional products
- Too small for larger items, like cowboy boots
By utilizing the best products from other companies, this kit automatically encourages you to keep using it regularly with your own favorite tools and polishes. It’s not necessarily the kit you would use for traveling or to hide away discretely. But, if you’re looking for a quality kit you can keep at home to ensure your favorite shoes always look pristine, this is a great option.
Check the Price of the FeetPeople Valet Shoe Shine Kit on Amazon!
Diamond Resources 8196 Bamboo Hand Crafted Shoe Shine Kit
The feeling of a classic, traditional shoe shine comes to life with this Diamond Resources kit. It is designed to replicate the look, feel, and quality of classic shoe shine parlors. Unfortunately, these old shops are all but extinct nowadays. But, you can get the experience in the comfort of your own home whenever you use this convenient kit. It includes:
- 2 horsehair brushes
- 2 polishing tins (brown and black)
- Soft shine cloth
The box itself is made from 100% bamboo wood. It has strong stainless steel hinges and a foot rest for easy polishing. The box measures 6.5×11.5×12.5, so it can easily store extra products and even certain pairs of shoes. The bamboo wood will keep your shoes smelling fresh and help to absorb odors.
- Foot rest is textured for a better grip
- Box is large and roomy for extra accessories
- Contains two polishes for different colors
- Doesn’t include as many accessories as other kits
- Not as convenient for travel
This kit isn’t necessarily meant for traveling or taking with you wherever you go. It is designed to mimic a traditional feel of the art of shoe shining. Sometimes, taking the time to experience that feeling in your own home can make it even better. Because this kit is so roomy, you can easily change out polishes as needed with your favorites, and create your own custom ‘shoe shine parlor’ at home.
Check the Price of the Diamond Resources 8196 Shoe Shine Kit on Amazon!
What Is the Best Shoe Polish?
When you buy a trusted shoe polishing kit, it should come with a quality tin of polish already included. However, many people quickly develop their own personal favorites when it comes to polish. The best shoe polishes should not only buff and shine, but they should be waterproof, and work with whatever shoe color you may have. The right polish can make your shoes look great and extend their life.
There are two types of polish to consider, based on their ingredients: Turpentine or Naphtha. These are both softening agents designed to make the wax easier to rub onto your shoes without creating clumping or excess residue. Turpentine solvents will usually smell better than Naphtha (petroleum).
As far as the wax itself goes, you’ll want to choose something that goes on smooth and buttery and won’t clump up. Premium polishes usually contain either beeswax or carnauba.
If you’re looking for a traditional wax with great value and a trusted name, try Kiwi Black Shoe Paste Polish 1-1/8 Ounce, Small. It uses a carnauba wax formula that is designed for use on everyday footwear. It’s also great for military boots and dress shoes.
For an extremely high-quality polish that is designed for delicate leather, one of the best is Collonil 1909 'Supreme Creme' Polish Protects & Revives Variety Of Colours Leather Shoes (Burgundy). It can be a bit pricier than other polishes, but it contains both animal and vegetable waxes and oils to ensure a smooth, shiny texture.
Why Is a Shoe Shine Brush So Important?
You’ll notice that most shoe shine kits contain their own brush. There are debates over which types of brushes are the best for polishing and buffing. However, this is one area of a professional kit where you shouldn’t skimp on quality.
The best option for a brush to shine your shoes is a horsehair brush. The right brush can be used for so much more than polishing. It should be durable and effective enough to even give your shoes a quick buff at the beginning of each day, or clean them up at night.
Horsehair brushes are gentle enough that they won’t damage or scratch your shoes. They are great for light cleaning and will leave enough wax on your shoes to give them extra shine. Some brushes are so rough that they can strip away the wax. This can cause gunky build up in some spots, or complete wax removal in other areas.
If you’re going to invest in just one type of polishing brush, make sure it’s made of 100% horsehair. Not only will they work better for your shoes, but they’ll last longer. You won’t have to worry about the brushes shedding or losing their bristles over time. A horsehair brush within a kit is a good sign of a quality product.
Do I Need a Professional Shoe Shine Kit?
A shoe shine kit might seem like a bit of a luxury item. But, many of them are extremely affordable, especially portable, compact versions. We’ve tried to include a variety of different kits that can work with every budget and lifestyle. Of course, the most important factor is that you wear comfortable leather shoes that fit properly.
When you consider the investment of leather shoes, dress shoes, or boots, it’s important to keep them looking great. Not only will you be more inclined to wear them regularly, but it can increase their lifespan significantly. A shoe shine kit provides the kind of maintenance certain shoes need on a regular basis. They are far more than just vanity items.
Of course, having your own professional kit can be a lot of fun, too! There is something satisfying about being able to polish your own shoes and bring them back to life. It takes a bit of a nostalgic art form and brings it into your home.
If you’re unfamiliar with shoe shining kits or have never used one before, we hope this information has given you the information needed to choose the best one for your needs. With just a little time and the right products, your shoes can look great for years to come.