Safe Shoe Polish? Ask 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
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 ½ 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)
½ ounce beeswax
½ 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 ½ cup, just about what you’d buy in the store! Store in a small jar.