see also Brushes

Brushing polishable boots performs two functions, removing excess polish and flattening the remaining polish, two actions that significantly impact the end result of the shining process.

There are two approaches to brushing polish. The first uses a soft, long-bristled brush alone, while the second uses a succession of three brushes in increasing softness. The first method is more suited for use with softer polishes such as Angelus and Kiwi, while the second method works best with harder polishes like Lincoln. The single brush method is quicker, requires less effort, and does not require additional equipment. The three-brush method takes more effort and equipment but can produce a more durable, long-lasting shine (due to the use of harder polish). Both methods produce shines of comparable quality; neither method is "better".

For the three brush method, the first brush has the firmest bristles. Short horse-hair or boar bristle brushes are common. In particular, older horse curry-brushes are very well-suited to the task. The second brush is softer, but still noticeably firm. Modern stiff horse-hair brushes are often ideal for this application. Finally, the third brush (also the brush used in the one-brush method) is a soft horse-hair brush, such as the standard shoe brush most commonly found for sale in shoemakers shops. Also available from equestrian stores is a so-called face brush, which consists of extremely soft bristles and serves very well as the softest brush in the three-brush method. In all cases, the bristles should be natural hair, synthetic bristles may bind too tightly to polish and remove too much.

All brushes should be used with brisk motions and firm pressure. Avoid "scrubbing" with the brush; instead, feather the brush strokes such that the brush does not end the stroke until all bristles are out of contact with the leather. This is particularly important with the coarse and medium brushes, as they can leave brush marks in the polish.

Use each brush in turn, going over the entire boot. Vary the direction of the brush strokes; this will reduce minor bristle marks in the finished product. For the medium and soft brushes, moisten the bristles prior to starting brushing and occasionally throughout the process. Moistening the brush reduces the extent to which the polish adheres to the bristles, keeping the polished surface even. Brushes can be moistened with a very light misting from a spray bottle or, if one is so inclined, by licking the brush.