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Lay down several sheets of newspaper on the floor or the table -- wherever you'll be working. A little prep saves you from having to clean up wayward shoe polish later.
Wash your hands with warm water and soap to remove dirt and grime on your skin. You don't want particles from your hands to spoil your shiny finish.
Wipe the dirt and dust from your shoes with a damp rag, then let them dry.
Rub polish over the entire shoe. Bare hands are great if you don't mind getting down and dirty, or use an old rag or a shoe polish sponge. If you're polishing a boot with laces, use a toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies on the tongue and around any eyeholes. Get an even coat on the shoe, then let it set for 15 minutes. While you wait, get to work on the second shoe.
Buff that polish to a sexy sheen with a shine brush. Get a mini-arm workout while you rub the brush back and forth over the outside of the shoe. You're aiming to remove most of the polish. Work over the entire shoe.
Dampen a cotton ball in water, then rub the cotton ball in the shoe polish. Wipe the extra polish on the parts of your pump that take a daily beating -- the heel and the toe. Move the cotton ball in small circles to distribute the polish. Grab a second cotton ball when you need one.
Hold your shoe up to the light. When the toe and heel look glossy and the overall sheen is even, you're done. Set that baby down and pick up where you left off with shoe No. 2.