The Art of Polishing Boots for a Military Shine


Do you remember all those hours spent polishing your boots? Does the word bulling send shivers up your spine?

For the uninitiated, bulling is the art of polishing leather boots to give them a mirror-like shine. It can take months or even years to perfect, but Forces.net have whipped up a handy step by step guide that will get your boots well on their way to shiny perfection.

First the boots must be packed with sand, this is to prevent them from shrinking when the leather is heated.

Next, the boot is heated to a high temperature with a heat gun or paint stripper. Beeswax is melted into the leather.

The next part of the process can begin when the beeswax dries and the boots become solid.

A firm, bristled brush is used to brush polish onto the boot, and then brushed off, removing any excess wax or sand.

Then the bulling begins…

Bulling is accomplished by using a Selvyt polishing cloth. The cloth must be cleaned with soap and a nail brush before every use. This is to remove grit or dirt that may cause imperfections.

Bulling means adding the perfect amount of polish to the cloth, and then applying the right amount of pressure to the boots, with the right amount of moisture in the cloth.

After hours, days, or even weeks, many layers of polish will have been added to the boots, giving them that perfect shine and mirror finish.

Most guardsmen use black KIWI shoe polish, as they find it gives them the best overall shine to the leather.

Depending on your outlook, bulling can be therapeutic or infuriating, but most guardsmen will agree that the work can be undone in minutes due to harsh weather.

Do you need any help or advice from the Veterans’ Gateway team? Call us now on 0808 802 1212, text 81212, use live chat, or visit self help

Our COVID-19 response

During this unprecedented time, we’re still here for you 24/7.

Get in touch to find out the latest information, support and help available to you and your family.

Talk to one of our friendly advisors 24/7 on 08‍08 80‍2 12‍12.