Emergency: Shining Patent Leather Shoes


Well-Known Member
I have a competition in six hours and my shoes did not polish up the way they were supposed to. Despite using successive thin layers of moist polish they now look dull and lifeless. Does anyone know how to get a fast shine?


Active Member
Should not be using regular polish on patent leather, at least not from what I've found out looking at information for patent shoes for my new tux. There are specific products for Patent leather. Might try a quick spot of vaseline if you can't get out to pick any of that up right now


Well-Known Member
Thanks etp and nucat. No luck with vinegar. A light vaseline coating has them shiny again, not to the original extent but enough to get me through a weekend of Bronze.

The infuriating thing is that I actually did research on how to care for patent leather before I got these shoes and nothing I found mentioned special polish. When I get back I'll get them professionally cleaned and ask about polish.


New Member
I used to shine my black patent tap shoes with a spot of cooking oil! But I was just a kid and didn't care about getting it on other people. :p


Active Member
Patent leather doesn't actually have a traditional leather surface, and hence regular polish is not used. The patented process (well, original one was, years ago), is to treat the leather with a layer, or rather, multiple layers, of linseed oil. This surface wasn't supposed to need polish the way a plain tanned leather surface does. These days they tend to use some type of palstic agent, but same thing.

Of course, in reality, you still have to polish the patent leather, just have to add a special product to your closet now, instead of using same polish you use on every other shoe. There are specific products for patent. You might try the following cleaning/polish instructions I came across though:



New Member
I clean my patent shoes, bags etc with furniture polish and a soft cloth! These are not dancing shoes, but i assume the patent leather is the same as used for dance shoes? you could try with an old pair to see if it works for you.


Active Member
Great suggestions - they all seem to be helpful.


The first thing to do is get rid of the notion of 'polishing' patent leather or pvc shoes. There are variations on what you can do and there are some things you should not do . . . here's some of what you should do:
  1. Wipe a little silicone on your shoes - which I do before I dance to prevent them from sticking together while on the floor. Vendors that sell dance shoes (supadance, dancelife usa, etc.) generally sell silicone in jars and/or sponges. I carry the little sponges with silicone and life is good.
  2. Keep your shoes in a shoe tree (the insert which keeps the shoe in proper shape when not wearing them, not referring to a stand for multiple shoes). I use cedar and it makes for a heavy carry, but its worth it to me since it helps protect my shoes - seemingly forever. These prevent creases and cracking that can occur during storage, travel, and with time.
  3. I also place my shoe-with-tree inside individual soft cloth shoe covers to keep the surface from coming in contact with trouble.
Note that the reference to furniture polish can work because of the ingredients.

Things not to do include polishing as we learned to polish regular leather shoes - break the connection!

Vaseline was what I used at first dancing, having been told to do so. I then learned that it can gunk up the ladies dress and is not all that great (petroleum based) if you were to leave it on the shoe afterwards - but if tomorrow I find myself in a competition setting and had to use vaseline to prevent sticking and had nothing else at hand, I would do so in a heartbeat!

The related concern for using silicone to prevent patent leather shoes sticking together will become increasingly important to you as you progress beyond Bronze . . . :D

Dance Ads