Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning and Polishing Tap Shoes

Polishing Tap Shoes

Tap dancing is a captivating art form that requires the perfect blend of skill, rhythm, and style. As a tap dancer, taking care of your tap shoes is essential to maintain their appearance and performance. Whether you’re a professional dancer or someone who enjoys tap as a hobby, keeping your shoes clean and polished not only prolongs their lifespan but also enhances your dance experience. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of cleaning and polishing your womens tap shoes, ensuring they stay in top-notch condition for every performance.

Gather Your Supplies

Before you start cleaning and polishing your shoes, gather the necessary supplies:

  • Soft cloth or brush
  • Mild soap or leather cleaner
  • Water
  • Shoe polish or cream (matching the colour of your shoes)
  • Soft polishing brush

Step 1: Remove Surface Dirt and Debris

Use a brush or soft cloth to delicately eliminate any dirt or debris from the surface. Tap shoes often accumulate dust and grime during rehearsals or performances. Ensure you clean all areas, including the soles and taps.

Step 2: Clean with Mild Soap and Water

Next, mix a small amount of mild soap or leather cleaner with water in a bowl. Dampen a clean cloth with the soapy solution, making sure it’s not too wet. Gently wipe down the shoes, paying attention to any stained or dirty spots. Be cautious with patent leather, as excessive moisture can damage its finish.

Step 3: Dry Thoroughly

After cleaning:

  1. Use a dry cloth to eliminate any excess moisture from your tap shoes.
  2. Let them dry naturally in the open air, avoiding direct sunlight or sources of heat.
  3. Insert newspaper into the shoes to maintain their form and soak up any lingering moisture.

Step 4: Apply Shoe Polish or Cream

Once they are completely dry, it’s time to apply shoe polish or cream. Select a product that corresponds to the colour of your tap shoes. Apply a small quantity onto a soft cloth and gently massage it onto the shoe’s surface using circular motions. This technique will provide nourishment to the leather and rejuvenate its lustre.

Step 5: Polish the Taps

The taps on your shoes need attention too! To polish them, use a soft polishing brush and a small amount of shoe polish. Gently buff the taps until they gleam, ensuring optimal sound and performance during your dance routines.

Step 6: Buff to Shine

After applying the shoe polish or cream, take a clean cloth and buff your tap shoes to a brilliant shine. The buffing process not only adds lustre to the leather but also removes any excess polish, giving your shoes a professional finish.

Step 7: Store Properly

Now that your womens tap shoes are clean and polished, storing them properly is essential to maintain their appearance. Place them in a cool, dry spot, ensuring they are away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Consider using shoe trees to help retain their shape and absorb moisture.

Tips for Maintaining Tap Shoes

Clean Regularly: Make a habit of cleaning the shoes after every use to prevent dirt and grime build-up.

  • Avoid Water Damage: Keep away from water and excessive moisture, especially if they are made of patent leather.
  • Replace Taps When Needed: Monitor the condition of your shoes’ taps and replace them when they become worn down to ensure the best sound quality.
  • Use Tap Shoe Covers: Invest in tap shoe covers or wear old sneakers when practising outdoors to protect your tap shoes from potential damage.
  • Professional Maintenance: Consult a professional shoe repair service for complex issues like reattaching loose taps or repairing significant damage.


By following this step-by-step guide and these maintenance tips, you can keep your tap shoes in top-notch condition, ready to tap dance their way through any performance. So, put on those shiny shoes, hit the dance floor, and let your feet create rhythmic magic!