How to Keep Liquid Shoe Polish From Drying Out

You need a shoe polish to add some shine and depth to your shoes, and there are many types out there to achieve that.

If you use a liquid polish and you don’t polish your shoes in a while, the liquid you purchased months ago can be all dried up.

Luckily, there are many ways you can prevent this from happening so that your investment in those quality liquid polish won’t go down the drain.

And in worse scenarios where they’ve dried up already, you won’t need to buy a brand new can of polish to give your shoes a new shine as I’d be sharing how you can revive your dried shoe polish.

The different ways to prevent shoe polish from drying up

There are different things you can do as well as steps you can take to prevent shoe polish from drying out, and these are the areas you should be more focused on than trying to revive a dried-up shoe polish: After all, prevention is better than cure.

Some of the methods for preventing the polish from drying up may factor around proper storage because one of the main causes of polish drying up, as we will see later on in this article, is exposure.

Nevertheless, other approaches have to do with the addition of substances or naturals to preserve the liquidity state of the polish for a considerably longer time.

As a preamble, the following are the ideas you can deploy to prevent your shoe polish from drying up after which we will briefly look into them individually:

  • Storing in Moisture resistant container
  • Sealing polish container with petroleum jelly
  • Adding olive oil to protect against dryness
  • The use of Anti-fungal spray

Storing in Moisture resistant container

If you can store the polish in an airtight container, it will prevent the air from creeping into the polish and thereby allow it to remain in its state for a longer time.

This means storing in containers that its lid fits so tightly such that no air can get in or out. An excellent example of such is a zip lock bag.

Sealing polish container with petroleum jelly

Another ideal way you can keep the substance from evaporating quickly, which also has a lot to do with the shoe polish container, is by finding a way to close the lid such that oxygen is sealed out.

This can be achieved by dabbing on petroleum jelly before closing the lid.

Adding olive oil to protect against dryness

Alternatively, you can get olive oil and pour a moderate amount on your shoe polish tins. What does this do? It ensures added protection for the polish against dryness which will eventually lead to cracking.

The use of Anti-fungal spray

Sometimes, the rapid dryness of the polish can be a result of the things that are on it.

So, a considerable alternative to preserving your shoe polish from getting dried up is to use an anti-fungal spray.

This will help neutralize anything present on the polish, thereby keeping it wet for longer.

Apart from these recommendations, it is often suggested that one can place an opened bag or jar of butter next to the polish tins.

What this supposedly does is serve as an added preservation so it doesn’t dry up. Meanwhile, it is also noteworthy to consider the need to keep the polish away from your clothes or anything else it will stain as you apply the substance.

Now that you know the practical ways to prevent shoe polish from drying out, it is quite important that you are also aware of the immediate cause as this will better help reduce the need to always play the prevention card, or reduce the rate at which you get new liquid polish.

Why does shoe polish dry out?

While it should have been mentioned earlier, liquid-based polish often has a low wax content, This idea, coupled with the fact that it’s a mixture of several polymers and pigment, explains why it is more viscous.

As mentioned earlier, there are several reasons why shoe polish dries out but the pulling on is usually around air exposure.

The longer the polish is exposed to air, the more quickly it gets to dry up.

After prolonged exposure, the polish becomes ‘cake-y’ and moldy, and then cracking is introduced. This is why you see the most dried-out polish with a cracked appearance.

It is important to note that what causes the drying up of polish is the evaporation of solvents as contained in the composition of the liquid polish; not the oils.

In many cases, it is when we haven’t touched the tine of shoe polish for a while that we notice the drying out or cracked thingy. As explained, it is basically due to the evaporation of the solvents in the polish.

With this, the wax is left only in the tin, and the wax begins to crack due to the now reduced volume of these solvents which has been preserving the softer paste feel of the polish.

This is why the most method of reviving a dried-out polish is always like doing the reverse of this drying up process. That is, replenishing the solvent and melting the wax within the confines of the tin.

However, there is a concern given that the solvent is flammable substances, particularly Naphtha (a petro-chemical) and Turpentine which are the commonly used ones in shoe polish.

When shoe polish dries up, it becomes very difficult for you to be able to apply them on your shoes more evenly and moderately, and the quality reduces.

This is why it is advised to soften your polish whenever it gets dried up. Ultimately, the usefulness of doing so before using the polish again is that the ingredients causing the drying or cracking are also removed in the process – one that might have damaged larger quantities of polish over time.

How can you fix dry shoe polish? (Different ways)

Now that we know how to prevent shoe polish from drying out and its causes, it’s time to know how you can fix dry shoe polish, suppose that is the case.

Luckily, there are tons of approaches one could consider, many of which I’m not even aware of as I write.

But a few days ago, I threw this same question to one of my favorite online footwear communities and the ideas and responses were nothing but awesome.

During the discussion, some of the suggestions made include:

  • the use of a candle to soften
  • placing the tin of polish close to a gas stove burner
  • putting in 300-degree for minutes

While the majority pointed out that one can just chuck it in the bin and get a new one since they aren’t expensive.

After trying some of these methods, here is what I discovered:

If you go with the use of a candle, it means you will need to lit a room candle, and then put the tin of dried shoe polish on top of it.

While you might get a result, in the end, you will agree that this takes a heck of time compared to other approaches. Also, the lack of oxygen will put the candle out.

If you have considered the stove method recommendation, then you might have to think twice about it because there are more safety concerns in this regard compared to all other approaches.

For instance, the polish could end up falling close to the flame from the gas burner with grates, and even though you did pull through, you will now be worried about getting the already-hot tin out of there – it’s an open flame and dangerous.

However, the idea of an oven seems to be a good idea because it saves time (results show in seconds) and then you only have to allow the polish to cool. You want to reconsider the oven setting degrees to something lesser, though.

The nice thing about the oven method is that the reviving of your shoe polish is accomplished without separating any of the essential waxes and oils. Only that it doesn’t seem to be a nice thing to do all the time.

Above all these, the most reliable method should be leaving the polish out there in the sun so it can soften naturally and nicely. Although it has to be a warmer day, and that you have enough time.

How many layers of shoe polish do you need?

When it comes to shinning of shoes, one of the most asked questions is the number of layers required for shoe polishing, sometimes, to achieve the mirror finish or to prevent oversaturation.

Well, as with many shoe care routines, the number of layers of shoe polish you need is determined by several factors including the quality of the leather and the state of the leather.

In addition, the amount of water you use (too much isn’t good at all, by the way) and how quickly you are attempting to get your shoe polished also determines how many layers are required.

This is why it is quite impossible to give a ballpark figure to this question. It could range from 5 to 20 layers, but you will be able to determine the right number once you attain the point where the shoe surface feels and looks like glass.

If you are pretty focused on achieving the mirror finish like a pro, then more attention should be paid to the amount of time you leave between the shinning process, and not only the number of layers of application.

For example, you would want to leave about 15 to 20 minutes between each of the shinning stages until it gets down to the application of wax and water.

Can you use shoe polish too much on your shoes?

‘How much is too much is also another thing to consider as you polish your shoe since it can affect your shoe surface positively or otherwise in a long run.

As you’d agree, there is no narrow-way procedure to polish shoes, but some basics remain constant.

The substance in shoe polish that makes the shoeshine is the wax (liquid polish exempted) which means that the more coats of wax you add on your shoe while polishing, the greater instability is introduced on the medium.

So, yes, you can use shoe polish too much on your shoes and this is not a good idea because the shoe is likely to deteriorate quickly due to the excess coat of wax.

You are also giving yourself a tough job of brushing even when you use too much polish on your shoe.

It is for this reason that, no matter the number of coatings, you apply less pressure while putting the final coat of spit shine.

I use only one method to determine and know when  a coat of polish has been sufficiently spread and smoothed out, and it is a trick I’d recommend over and over again:

After a successful polish to your satisfaction, run your finger across the shoe slowly and gently.

Observation: If a drag on your finger is felt while you do so, then it implies that you used too much polish on that coat.

…or that enough wax has not been spread and smoothed out.

As with most shoe construction, the areas that need more coats of wax than others are more rigid areas such as the back and the toe areas.


If you have been looking for a way to prevent your liquid shoe polish from drying up, I’m sure you’ve been exposed to more than one way to achieve that.

And, if the case is that there is a need to soften shoe polish, we have also looked at ways to go about deploying various DIY approaches.

When you keep your shoe polish in the right state, it becomes easier for your footwear to get shinier and more protected with just one shoe polish.

I encourage you to use some of the tricks and tips shared in the above article and feel free to share in the comment how they worked out for you.

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