Shoes have dull patches that won't take polish

As the title says, my shoes recently got some sort of “dull patches” that won’t take polish very well. I can apply as much polish as I’d like and it still won’t shine properly.

The only possible solution I can think of is stripping them which ive tried before with hot water and the dull patch didn’t go. I’ve found a heatgun now so if nobody else has a solution I guess I’ll give it a shot with the heatgun, might even attempt to beeswax them as I have some somewhere.

Anyone else had this and have any advice on how to fix it before I just go ahead and strip them?

Where are these patches? Can you stick a photo up?

This is it before I stripped with hot water

This is them now after a bit of polishing. Still can sorta see the affected area is a bit weird and will not take polish.

It looks like you haven’t got enough layers of polish to have a smooth shine. The dull patches look like the leather itself. I’d suggest building up a couple of thin layers (20+ layers gets me a good shine) making sure each layer has dried before applying the next. If I have enough time to spare, I often aim for 100 layers. I find the more layers you have, the better the shine in the end.

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Looks as though whatever you have done to cause them has gone to the leather and the pigment itself is damaged. Before stirpping them back fully try using a shoe cream to restore the uniformity of the colour.

Edited to add look to use the shoe cream twice with an hour at least between. When polishing I generally never apply more than 3 layers at a time leaving them for an hour or so between each set.

In the extreme I have in the past stripped back fully using rubbing alcohol, then applied black leather dye to get a uniform colour, followed this with black shoe cream to nourish the leather and left for 24 hours before starting with shoe polish, for the first 10 layers I use brushes then move onto cotton wool.


I mean since stripping I’ve put on a good hundred maybe even couple hundred layers and it’s still showing through, similar story with the other shoe but I haven’t bothered stripping the other one until I figure out if it worked (so far it hasn’t)

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I don’t know if I have any shoe cream anywhere sadly. Not sure if it would be worth buying some either on the off chance it works, might ask around though.

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its not the sort of thing people generally have lying around and you don’t see it in shops normally, even the local cobblers didn’t stock it, I order mine from Amazon.

Saphir is the best but this is a little cheaper and I had ok results with it when I first started with my non military shoe care

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It could be - and this is a long shot - that there is too much moisture on the leather. If you can put them to one side for 3-4 days then try polishing again it might help.

Yeah, I’m not sure though, would think I’d have to strip back to leather and then use shoe cream. I’ve heard good things about saphir but they’re ridiculously expensive.

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Very well might be, wish I’d properly prepped my shoes when I first got them, might’ve helped.

With that heat gun you have, you can strip it completely again (Just remember to pack the inside of the shoe really well to prevent the leather from shrinking). You’ll definitely get a better result compared to hot water.

Edit: Just remember to wipe the melted polish off of the shoe cap

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Doesn’t need to be fully stripped back, leave for 10 minutes or so to penetrate before buffing. Shoe cream contains more pigment than wax polish and is also intended to nourish the leather as opposed to the wax polish which is inteneded to sit on top and produce a shine.

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Yeah, I might do. I need to find some newspapers to stuff them with first though. Usually any newspapers we get through the door go straight into the bin or fire. Also have some beeswax for waterproofing some other shoes so I could try that but I’m worried parade shoes aren’t cut out for that or I’d mess it up.

Would the cream penetrate all the wax polish though? or would it just be a case of put it ontop, buff, wax over the top of it?

Right so, with beeswaxing its harder/riskier than most people think. It can be very frustrating at times and does take a bit of practice. I have my parade shoes waxed and I like the result and sturdiness of them. If you do do it, make sure to stuff the shoe extremely well to stop/prevent shrinking. Ensure that you have no surface (in the areas you’re beeswax-ing) without it otherwise you’ll get more patches (not a fun experience). After it’s fully hardened and cooled (I left mine for 24hrs) you’ll want to “sand” back the lumps to a smooth finish (I use scotch-brite; comes in different roughness’). Once its smoothed down, I then apply 70-ish layers of kiwi wax, then I gently heat the surface with my heatgun on low, then once it has cooled completely, I bull it to a shine. It works for me that way, but each shoe is different so for me it may work but for others it may not.

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No don’t use that. It’s for walking boots.

If you are stripping shoes stuff with paper, strip, let dry.

It might be you are using too much water in your bull layer. Put a couple of thick layers on without adding any water.

It should penetrate the wax polish, I tend to use cream once a month on my work shoes to keep the colour and nourish the leather then wait 24 hours before using wax polish for a high shine


Thank you, If I do beeswax I’m probably only going to beeswax the toecap if I do because the rest of the shoe is already very cracked. By no surface do you mean no wax polish already on the shoe? And did you tape over the welts?

I’d put money on that you’re probably applying too much pressure when you’re bulling and/or applying too much polish per coat. Be gentle with it