Everyone has a favorite domestic chore to do. Mine is polishing shoes. When I was a child I'd watch my Father, who had been in the Army, polish his. When I was in high school, my brother was the one who taught me the essentials of polishing shoes. You don't need a lot of things to get started but here are my absolute essentials:
soft, lint-free cloths
Kiwi shoe polishes
Shoe brushes (I have one for light, one for dark and one for brushing dust off)
Doc Marten's Wonder Balsam
For most leather shoes and boots, here's what I recommend. If the boots are oil tanned leather (heavy duty work boots) this process will not work! They do not polish to a shine and you shouldn't try. Just remove the dirt and condition them with a leather conditioner.
First thing, take out the shoe laces. Next, brush off the big pieces of dust and dirt. Dampen a cloth and apply the saddle soap, wipe off excess. Let air dry for a few minutes.
Take another cloth, and rub into the shoe polish and apply to the boots in a circular motion. Make sure you get the entire leather surface of the shoe, including the tongue. Some people use sponge applicators instead of cloths, but I find I get much better coverage from the cloth.
Let the polish dry and then using a soft brush, buff the shoes to a high shine.
If the boots are Doc Martens, instead of regular polish, use Doc Martens Wonder Balsam to bring out the high gloss. For oil tan boots, I recommend Aussie Leather Conditioner.
For Suede shoes, use the suede brush and brush the shoes, then apply a thin layer of suede cleaner and rebrush. My hiking boots are olive green suede and I did them the same time I did Sir's but they don't photograph as well! They looked the same in both the before and after photos so, I scrapped the pictures.
After you are done, relace the boots. If the laces need replacing, you can do so at this time.
If you have any questions or if something was unclear please ask!