Shoe Polishes

man shining shoes with a rag

Common hazardous ingredients:
Methylene chloride, mineral spirits, nitrobenzene, silicones, trichloroethylene

Potential hazards:
Flammable; toxic; absorbed through skin contact and vapor inhalation

Use and storage: Use according to label instructions in a well-ventilated area.

  • Wear rubber gloves.

  • Keep container tightly closed when not in use.

  • Keep contaminated rags and brushes in a sealed container as well.

  • Store all materials out of reach of children and away from sources of flames.


  • Best: Use up or give away. Dispose of empty container in the garbage.

  • Second Best: Hold for a household hazardous waste collection. In Oregon, call 1-800-732-9253 to find out if there is a hazardous waste collection event scheduled in your community, or call your garbage hauler, local government solid waste department or the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality at (503) 229-5913 or toll-free at 1-800-452-4011.


  • Use wipe-on rather than spray polishes. They have fewer solvents and are less likely to be inhaled.

  • Apply beeswax-based products, olive oil, or cold-pressed nut oil to leather and buff with a chamois cloth to shine.

  • Work a dab of petroleum jelly into patent leather to give it a glistening shine and prevent cracking in the winter.

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