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Caring for Leather Shoes - Shoe Polish

Dangers, Alternatives and Types of Shoe Polish

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As I was looking for certain shoe polish products, I was surprised to find warnings that shoe polish contained toxic chemicals and could actually be considered very dangerous.

While I know most of us have had shoe polish around the house for years, probably without any problems, the warnings I found were of enough concern to me that I wanted to share the information with all of you. Below is more information about the toxicity of certain shoe polishes, as well as alternative and traditional polishing instructions.

Toxicity of Shoe Polish

Certain shoe polishes contain toxic chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin and or inhaled (read more at the epa web site).

It is essential that if you use shoe polish, you wear gloves when doing so, do not drink alcohol while polishing shoes (it can increase the effects of certain chemicals), and keep all shoe polish out of reach of children and animal companions.

If used, shoe polish should be used in a well-ventilated area, and all of the product should be used, with any residual being discarded or given to someone who will use it.

When disposed, shoe polish needs to be handled as a hazardous household substance. Rags or clothes used that come in contact with the shoe polish should also be immediately discarded.

While some shoe polished claim to be non-toxic, most do not list their ingredients, so it is impossible to know that they are truly free of dangerous chemicals. While it is better to avoid shoe polish if possible, if this is not practical for you, and you do feel the need to buy commercial shoe polish - please use the necessary precautions.

Alternatives to Using Traditional Shoe Polish

Take your shoes to a shoe repair shop to have them cleaned and polished for you.

Rub your smooth leather shoes (not suede or nubuck) with the inside of a banana peel (test this method first on a small spot of the shoe), then buff and shine with a soft cloth or rag.

Olive oil or walnut oil works for smooth leather as well. Work a small amount into shoe, and polish with a soft cotton cloth. Again, try this method in an inconspicuous spot before using the oil on the entire shoe.

Polishing Your Leather Shoes with Traditional Shoe Polish

Shoe polishes are available in liquid, cream or paste. Liquid shoe polish dries quickly, but is not readily available in a lot of colors and does not last as long as the other options. Shoe polish paste is the longest lasting, but is very messy and slow to work with. Shoe polish cream is a great compromise, and is available in lots of colors.

Of course you'll need to get the appropriate color of polish for you shoes. You can find a variety of shoe polishes at shoe stores, shoe repair shops and general stores, although you won't find a large variety of colors at the latter. There are also several places on the web where you can find shoe polish. For example, George's Shoes sells several different colors and types of shoe polishes.

Apply the polish to a small, less conspicuous area of the shoe to test and be sure the color is right.

Rub the polish into the shoe with a soft cloth, and allow it to dry thoroughly.

After the shoe polish is dry, shine your shoes by buffing them with a soft cloth or brush made specifically for shining shoes.
Related Video
How to Polish Leather Shoes

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