Saturday, August 7, 2010

Plate Shoe Shine Test

Today I am testing four products for cleaning plate shoes. While none of these methods can compare to the good-old-fashion polish and elbow grease method, each of these methods only takes a minute or two to produce a shine.

The methods tested are:

1. Scrubbing Bubbles and Armour All Leather Wipes

2. Murphy's Oil and Hairspray (White Rain firm hold)

3. Sprayway glass cleaner

4. Home-made glass cleaner mixture of white vinegar, water and dish soap.

As you can see from the "Before" picture at left (click picture to enlarge), I am testing method one on a Reebok Field Magistrate Plate Shoe; method two on a Reebok Field Magistrate Plate Shoe; method three on a New Balance 450 Plate Shoe; and method four on a New Balance 450 Plate Shoe.

I first sprayed the shoes down with regular water and used a small brush to clean off dirt. Then I applied the cleaner and shining agent (if applicable), waited ten seconds, and wiped dry with a soft cloth.

The Test
Scrubbing Bubbles and Armour All Leather Wipes - I have been using this method for the past year and have good results. The Scrubbing Bubbles quickly clean the leather and the cloth areas. As you can see from the photo, the Armour All wipes produced a very good shine.

There are a couple down-sides to this method. First, the Scrubbing Bubbles are in an aerosol can which could be a problem if left in a hot trunk. The spray is also messy and I have to walk a safe distance away from vehicles and people to spray down my shoes. Buying Scrubbing Bubbles is also expensive over time.

Finally, the Armour All wipes attract dirt. My shoes look fantastic until I hit the field. Within an inning they have lost their luster.

Murphy's Oil and Hairspray - I have never used the Murphy's Oil or hairspray to clean my shoes. Murphy's Oil is a popular product for cleaning leather, and the hair spray brings out a very good shine. I mixed two capfuls of the Murphy's Oil in a small spray bottle filled with water. The Murphy's Oil sprayed quickly and was able to penetrate into creases.

The upside to using Murphy's Oil is the cost. The down side is the Murphy's Oil does not clean a shoe's cloth areas. Hairspray also acts like a dust magnet.

Ammonia-free Glass Cleaner - Ammonia-based glass cleaners like Windex will harm leather. I chose the ammonia-free Sprayway glass cleaner from Wal-Mart which I use to clean household glass. The Sprayway cleaner sprays on like a foam, similar to the Scrubbing Bubbles. The Sprayway produced a decent shine.

Like the Scrubbing Bubbles method, glass cleaner can get expensive. However, unlike Armour All, the glass cleaner does not attract dust because there is no residual film.

Home-Made Glass Cleaner - to try to combat the price issue of store-bought glass cleaners, I mixed white vinegar, water and dish soap. I have used this mixture on household glass and it cleans better than ammonia-based Windex without streaking. I have blacked-out the gaudy white "N" at the side of my New Balance shoes with a Sharpie, and the white vinegar mixture started removing the Sharpie ink. The Home-Made Glass Cleaner cleaned well, but did not leave much of a shine.

Bottom Line
While the Scrubbing Bubbles and Armour All method tends to clean and shine the best, I am intrigued by the ammonia-free glass cleaner. Hairspray and Armour All wipes produce a very good shine, but attract dirt. The ammonia-free glass cleaner cleans, shines, and does not attract dirt.


********* said...

Pete, I appreciate your work here.

I have tried for years to find a good way to keep shoes with a "no need to polish shine" shiny.

Currently I use scrubbing bubbles, but instead of anything else, I just put good polish on them.

I am just not happy with the shine of these types of shoes. In my experience nothing really keeps a shine on shoes w/o polish except wearing patent leather shoes, which seems to be frowned upon in most places today.

Maybe it is just a matter that I like patent leather shoes, or that I like to waste money on polish for just a few innings of shine. I just don't think shoes like the NB450's, which I have used for a long time, can do what they are advertised to do.

Frankly, the best plate shoes I ever had for keeping a good shine were the original Van's plate shoes from the early to mid 1980's, it's a shame they are not made anymore.

Other comments are greatly appreciated.

Stephen said...

I use the Murphy and hair spray method. Pete, did you wipe the hair spray off before letting it dry? If so that would make the shine less. I really do not see my shoes with the dry hair spray as a dust magnet on a good field. Some places are so dusty it would not matter what you used.

I am happy with the method I use, but I appreciate all your hard work comparing methods for us.

Pete Reiser said...

Thanks for the comments, guys! I wiped the hairspray after about 10 seconds.

I can say from experience that the Armour All wipes attract dust on the field. I have read on other non-umpire sites that hairspray generally attracts dust, but I have not tested this method on the field.

Soon I plan to wear one shoe shined with the glass cleaner and one shoe shined with the hairspray and will report my impressions.

Thunderheads said...

Thanks Pete, this is great stuff!

I wonder if the Murphy's for cleaning, then hitting them w/ the ammonia free window cleaner would be nice ?!

Pete Reiser said...

Honestly, each of the processes worked well for cleaning the leather portion of the shoes. The advantage of the Scrubbing Bubbles is that it will also penetrate and clean cloth areas (i.e. the tongue area).

Years ago military troops used Mop N Glow on their shoes to pass inspection. Mop N Glow will make your plate shoes absolutely, well, GLOW. The problem is that it is essentially soap and your shoes will become a white mess when wet. I wonder if Murphy's Oil soap will also cause a white film when wet? I have not had a similar result with the Scrubbing Bubbles.

Jason Blackburn said...

Interesting study.

I started using hair spray on my shoes this year and I've found it to be a dirt repellent.

I clean my shoes with Kiwi foam (which is basically a more expensive version of scrubbing bubbles) and then use hair spray on them. If the field is well maintained I just have to wipe my shoes off after the game.

Anonymous said...

Pete, great info but I never wipe my shoes after spraying the hairspray. Try spraying a even coat of the hairspray then let them dry about 10 or so minutes in the sun. You'll see a awesome shine and (for me) it doesn't attract dust.

Arik said...

The last year or two I started using Scrubbing Bubbles and a cheap hair spray from the dollar store. I find that the shine is more than adequate and the scrubbing bubbles work nicely.

Also, as of this past week, Costco is selling a four-pack of large green cans of Scrubbing Bubbles for only about $4 or $5 for the pack. It is a nice way to get a bunch of the stuff for not very much.