The best shoe polish kit

Sian Babish

If you’re giving someone an expensive pair of shoes or boots, a shoe polish kit is a thoughtful and practical accessory gift.

Few things are sharper than shiny leather shoes. But when scuffs or nicks appear, you can feel deflated about your favorite pair. Luckily for you, it's easy to keep your classy shoes looking their best with a shoe polish kit.

Shoe polish kits buff, polish, and shine shoes with a variety of products and accessories. Some keep it simple with travel-sized essentials, whereas deluxe kits include several brushes, polishing cloths, and polish colors.

To achieve that fresh, out-of-the-box look for your shoes, check out our buying guide. We're including a review of our favorite, the KIWI Select Shoe Care Valet, which features a 100% horsehair brush and attractive wood valet box.

Considerations when choosing shoe polish kits

What comes in a shoe polish kit?

Polish: Kits typically come with polish in brown or black, and sometimes they include other shades. They're packaged in tins, and it's important to keep the cover on to prevent the product from drying out.
Shine cloths: Shine cloths are made from soft, lint-free material that won't scratch or damage leather shoes. Since they're used often and accumulate excess product and debris, shine cloths are machine washable for easy care.
Shoehorn: Shoehorns aren't just for those who have a tough time bending over to reach their footwear. They're also used when putting on fine leather shoes, as they let your heel slide into the shoe instead of crushing the heel counter. This saves your shoes considerable wear and tear.
Dauber: Polish and cream are applied with a dauber, which helps spread product evenly around your shoe. Daubers can be simple sponge applicators with plastic handles, or in premium kits, they may feature horsehair bristles and wooden grips.
Horsehair brush: This large brush is responsible for removing dust and surface dirt. It can also be used to spread product over large areas of the shoe, such as the instep area or quarter panels.
Accessory case: Shoe polish kits usually come with an accessory case of some kind. Travel kits mostly have compact zipper cases, whereas premium kits can have elaborate cases or wooden valets.

Types of shoe polish kits

Travel kits

Travel kits are stripped down to the bare essentials for your convenience. All accessories are smaller, as are tins of product. Keep in mind these kits often feature inexpensive materials, so quality isn't as good as deluxe or premium shoe polish kits.

Deluxe kits

Deluxe shoe polish kits contain every accessory necessary to the total treatment. They'll usually come with multiple polish colors to accommodate shoes of virtually any shade. These kits occasionally come with shoe forms, which aid in product application.

Leather care kits

There are also dedicated leather care kits. These include conditioner, oil, and saddle soap and require regular application to maintain leather shoes.


Travel and basic shoe polish kits cost less than $15, while for closer to $30 are deluxe kits, some of which have wood accessories and multiple polish colors. Kits priced $50 and above typically include the best tools and polishes on the market.


Q. Do I need to invest in synthetic shoe polish products to achieve a quality treatment, or are there more natural alternatives?

A. The vast majority of shoe polish products are made from synthetic materials and chemicals. There are certain kits which are made with natural formulas, which include beeswax and essential oils. They're often more expensive, but they can have mixed results.

Q. How long does it take to polish shoes?

A. You can do a quick buff or application in a few minutes, but for the best results, you can spend as much as one to two hours on getting your shoes just right. Some people find shoe polishing therapeutic and simply enjoy taking their time doing it.

Shoe polish kits we recommend

Best of the best: KIWI Select's Shoe Care Valet

Our take: A full-service shoe care kit with a classic wood valet. Makes a great gift.

What we like: Wide assortment of brushes, daubers, and other accessories. Top-quality polish formula.

What we dislike: Valet could have a better closure, and the kit is expensive.

Best bang for your buck: KIWI Select's Shoe Care Kit

Our take: Budget-friendly essentials kit ideal for travel. Price doesn't compromise quality.

What we like: All accessories fit inside a convenient carrying case. Comes with black and brown polish.

What we dislike: Polish containers must be tightly closed to prevent them from leaking or popping open.

Choice 3: Otter Wax's Leather Care Kit

Our take: Boot care-focused kit with all-natural ingredients list. Might not be ideal for certain leathers.

What we like: Effective polishing and conditioning. Made in the U.S. Products have a mild yet pleasant scent.

What we dislike: Better suited for darker leather, so choose wisely, or at least do a spot test first.

Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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