Patent leather shoes look best when polished to a high sheen. Unfortunately, items such as salt on walkways in the winter, dirt and grime cloud the surface of leather, resulting in a dull-looking shoe. These elements dry the leather, resulting in drying and cracking. To shine patent leather shoes properly, you need to lift the dirt and grime from the leather surface first.
Wipe patent leather shoes with a clean, lint-free cloth. Brush off all loose dirt and debris from the shoes.
Mix one part water and one part white vinegar into a bowl. Dip a rag into the vinegar solution, and wring out. Wipe the vinegar wash onto the shoe. The vinegar cuts through any stains remaining on the shoe.
Wipe the vinegar solution from the shoe with a damp rag. Dry the shoe with a lint-free cloth.
Apply a small amount of beeswax or petroleum jelly to a clean cloth, and wipe over the patent leather. Work the jelly or beeswax into the leather with circular motions. Allow the lubricant to remain on the shoes for one hour.
Buff the patent leather shoes with a dry, lint-free cloth. Grasp each side of the cloth and rub it from side to side over the leather. Buff until the shoes absorb the lubricant and the leather shines.