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How to Polish Military Boots? – 6 Steps & Tips

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

how to polish military boots

For military personnel and enthusiasts, knowing how to polish military boots is a must-have skill. It not only ensures that your boots look impeccable but also helps to maintain their durability and longevity.

To keep your boots in top-notch condition, learning the proper techniques for shining and cleaning is a must!

In this guide, we’ll take you through each step to properly polish shoes so that you can achieve a stunning finish. Get ready to learn everything you need to know to make boots shine like glass.

Types of Military Boots and How to Polish Them


The military uses a wide variety of boot styles, each tailored to a unique set of requirements. Listed below are some examples of military boot types, along with brief explanations of each and how to polish them.

  • Tactical Boots

Tactical boots are tough and long-lasting footwear for military and law enforcement. They’re designed to protect your feet and keep you steady with features like steel toes and soles. When polishing tactical boots, select a polish that is close in shade to the color of the shoes you intend to shine.

  • Police Boots

When it comes to durability and support, police boots are very comparable to tactical boots. To ensure a glossier shine, thorough cleaning before polishing police boots is a must.

  • Army Cadet Boots

Military cadets wear specialized boots called “army cadet boots” during drills and parades. Typically, shiny leather is used to make these boots. Shoe polish in the shade similar to the boots should always be used to polish army cadet boots.

  • Combat Boots

Soldiers in every branch of the armed forces use combat boots. Soldiers’ combat boots are typically crafted of high-quality leather and include superior protection, support, and durability.

Remember to apply polish evenly and concentrate on scuffed or worn areas to make combat boots shiny. It also requires more care to polish black leather boots.  

Quick Tips for Maintaining the Shine of Military Boots


Maintain a regular schedule for cleaning army boots to keep them in pristine condition.

Select a high-quality shoe polish for military shine. Find polishes that can bring out the boots’ shine without damaging the material.

Use a thin coat of polish whether you polish black boots or any color of boots. This helps avoid the accumulation of excessive polish and promotes greater absorption.

Buff when the polish has dried completely. When you rush anything, the finish may not last as long.

Reapplying multiple, thin coats of polish and buffing between each will provide high gloss for your boots.

Step 1: Prepare

Polishing military boots regularly is vital for keeping them in good shape and looking like they belong in the military.

Indeed, you need to prepare the right materials compatible with your type of military boots to successfully shine boots at home:


  • Boot polish
  • A clean cloth
  • Clean cotton pieces
  • A horsehair brush
  • A welt brush or a soft-bristle toothbrush.
  • Warm water  

Here are the steps to properly polish shoes to achieve that amazing military shoe shine:

Step 2: Wipe the boots


First of all, get rid of the loose dirt and debris on the boots by brushing or wiping them down. This preparation is necessary so that the polish will cling to a smooth surface.

Step 3: Use some warm water for cleaning


Warm water on a sponge or towel can be used to clean the boots gently. Any lingering grime or stain can now be easily scrubbed away with the damp cloth.

Make sure you do not put a soaking wet cloth onto the boots, so remember to squeeze the excess water before wiping the military boots with it.

Step 4: Let the boots air dry thoroughly


Use some small cotton pieces to remove any moisture on the boots.

Also, the boots may be ruined if you use a hair dryer or other direct heat source on them, so leave them to dry naturally.

Step 5: Polish the boots


Then, apply a tiny amount of shoe polish using a brush or cloth and a circular motion to the boots.

Please pay close attention to any scratched or damaged areas and ensure they are fully covered. Spread the polish out evenly.

Step 6: Let the polish dry


Wait a few minutes to ensure the polish has dried on the boots. The manufacturer’s instructions for drying time should be followed.

Buff boots with a brush or cloth after the polish dries to remove excess and achieve glossy combat boots.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Polishing Military Boots


  • Overpolishing your military boots

Whether you’re using kiwi or any other polish, you may get a gummy after-feel, and a dull shine if you use too much polish.

  • Boots are not clean enough before polishing 

Dirt and debris can become trapped in the polish and make the boots look dull if they aren’t cleaned thoroughly before being polished.

  • Not using the right polish for your military boots

A specifically made shoe polish for military shine is necessary. Your military boots won’t look as good polished with the wrong kind of shoe polish.

  • The drying process was hurried

High shine boots can only be achieved with sufficient drying time.

  • Skipping routine maintenance

Military boots require frequent maintenance to retain their condition and high gloss. The boots will lose their sheen if you don’t maintain them with frequent cleaning and polishing.

Alternative Methods for Boot Shining

Can I use household items as an alternative to boot polish? Well, the answer is yes. In fact, you have a rather wide range of options for boot shining.

1. Using alternatives to shoe polish


  • Olive oil can be used as a healthy alternative to shine black boots without polish. A small amount of olive oil on a soft cloth can be rubbed into the boots in circular motions to restore their shine.
  • Beeswax or petroleum jelly can be used to polish and protect military footwear. Melt a bit of either of them in the microwave and rub it into the boots with a rag. Allow it to dry after spreading it out evenly.
  • Banana Peel is another great alternative to achieving shining boots. Working in small areas at a time, rub the inside of a banana peel over the boots. The leather’s sheen will be enhanced by the natural oils in the peel.

2. Spit shine your military boots


The term “spit shine boots” is often used by soldiers to describe the process of polishing leather to an extraordinarily high sheen.

When leather shoes or boots are polished, the shine is achieved by applying the polish in tiny layers and then lubricating them with water. That’s why many like to “spit shine new boots.”

3. Polishing military boots with lighter


Heating the surface of the boots with a lighter or hair dryer is another way of polishing military footwear. Run a flame over the entire shoe using a lighter (or a hair dryer set to high heat).

Keep the flame at a safe distance from the shoe until the polish melts, but never on the shoe itself.

Why is It Necessary to Military Boots Them Clean and Shiny


Military boots are specialized shoes made for people in the military, in law enforcement, and in other jobs that demand sturdy footwear.

These boots are designed to last through rough terrain and bad weather while protecting your ankles. Since it’s an essential gear, military boots must be kept clean and polished.

  • First, military laws and dress codes require that boots be kept clean and shiny. Proper grooming is essential for upholding military discipline, professionalism, and morale.

Military members take pleasure in their appearance, and it shows when they take the time to clean and make their boots shiny.

  • Second, the elements can be particularly hostile in military settings. Cleaning boots regularly helps get rid of these impurities, which can lead to an increased risk of foot infections and other foot-related problems.

A leather or synthetic’s ability to resist cracking, drying, and degradation is also enhanced by a consistently polished appearance. High gloss boots can also help spot wear and tear sooner, enabling timely maintenance or replacement.



How often should I polish my military boots?

Military boots only need to be polished once a month. The polish creates a protective layer lasting for several weeks, keeping the boots shiny and new.

How long does it take for the polish to dry?

The boot polish usually takes at least 15 to 20 minutes to dry. Then you can wipe excess polish and start buffing.

Can I use the same polishing techniques for different boot materials?

It’s not possible to apply the techniques used to polish the leather to any other boot material. It’s important to pay special attention to the substance of your boots.

What if my boots have scuffs or scratches?

To fix the scratches, simply apply polish and buff as suggested. An additional coat may be required if the scuffing is really bad. This technique applies to all military boots, whether you want to polish tactical boots or shine army jump boots.

How long does a polished military boot shine last?

The gloss often lasts for about a month. Therefore, once a month is an appropriate time to polish military boots.

Is it advisable to polish new military boots?

Applying a base layer of polish is the first step in caring for a new pair of boots. This will serve as a base for any further polishing that may be done later. However, it is not recommended to spit-shine new boots.


Knowing how to polish military boots is a necessary skill for any military person. Polishing helps keep those tough boots looking good, lasting long, and projecting a professional image. The high-gloss look also nourishes and protects them from wear and tear.

Following the steps in this guide, military boots maintain their appearance and extend their useful life. Indeed, a little time and effort to properly polish military boots goes a long way.

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