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Safe Shoe Polish? Ask Annie

Safe Shoe Polish? Ask Annie

Dear Annie,
I am trying to live as free of toxic materials as possible, both for my health and the planet, but I am stumped by shoe polish. What can I use that works and that is safe? –Mel, WA

Dear Mel,
A few years ago I was looking at my new, beautiful, purple clogs, wondering the same thing, especially because they were purple! One thing is that you aren’t going to find any safe products on the market, even if they are plant-based, at least that I can find. (Please let me know if you do.)

The plant-based shoe polishes are made with plant terpines and these are volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), even if natural. Standard shoe polishes can contain naptha, synthetic dyes, and petroleum solvents. The store where I bought my clogs had no purple dyes–toxic or non-toxic–and they just recommended a shine, not a polish. While a shine cleans off the dirt, the faded color isn’t helped. (Make a homemade shine by putting juice from squeezed lemon in a bowl and add a few drops of jojoba or olive oil.)

As to a real polish, DIY is the only way to go that holds up. And before you despair, check out this great folk formula for making fabulous shoe polish, and any color that you want. This DIY formula will shine, waterproof, and restore leather boots, shoes, pocketbooks, and more.

Basic Shoe Polish Formula
2 ounces oil (less oil for a thicker polish)
ounce beeswax
to 1 teaspoon natural Earth pigment*

Combine the oil and beeswax in a double boiler over medium heat until the beeswax is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the pigment, adding more for a darker color. Makes cup, just about what you’d buy in the store! Store in a small jar.

*Natural Earth pigments are now readily available on the Internet. Here are some sources that I like: Earth Pigments and BioShield Pigments.

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


+ add your own
5:38PM PST on Feb 21, 2013

Banana peels work pretty good on my shoes !!

9:59AM PST on Jan 23, 2013


This is an old post but I was looking for natural show polish today and found this article but also found this product:

it looks pretty good as far as all natural, chemical free goes!

thanks for the thoughtful post as well. A lot of people don't think about the fact that they are breathing in and most likely touching the polish and that can be problematic.

2:37AM PST on Jan 17, 2013

GlenKaren Care Products makes a non-toxic shoe polish (

10:35AM PST on Jan 11, 2012

Thank you

8:21AM PDT on Nov 1, 2011


8:21AM PDT on Nov 1, 2011


1:02PM PDT on Sep 25, 2011


1:01PM PDT on Sep 25, 2011


6:31AM PDT on May 17, 2011

What works good to clean shoes is frabric softner sheet you use in the dryer. Get it wet, ring out excess water and wipe your shoes clean. It's will even remove dryed paint from leather boots. Worked for me.

6:28AM PDT on May 17, 2011

Thanks for the great information. This is real handy.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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