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Based on years of polishing shoes at a right-wing, neo-fascist military college and ensuing years of military service,

a) I use a dauber and brush when applying creme. Afterwards, I'll buff quickly with a cloth.

b) For shell leathers, I only apply creme.

c) For all cow leathers, I spit-shine (Brits use the term bulling) using a carnuba wax. It involves no actual spit.

d) Using anything other than 100% cotton will lead to scratches--making it impossible to achieve a mirror-like gloss when using wax based polish.

e) It is impossible to adequately shine shoes without using properly fitted shoe trees.
 
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