Saddle soap

Saddle soap

Saddle soap is a preparatory compound containing mild soap and softening ingredients such as neatsfoot oil, glycerin, and lanolin. It is used for cleaning, conditioning and softening leather, particularly that of saddles and other horse tack, hence its name.

All-in-one cleaners that clean and condition in one step may be bad for leather. Some contain detergents that over time can damage the leather. Saddle soap is designed to clean and preserve leather. However, in reality saddle soap is not a particularly good cleanser. It must first dissolve its own oils, decreasing its ability to affect dirt and oils in the leather. Saddle soap is also slightly alkaline and alkalinity can damage leather. Another problem arises during application. The instructions for most saddle soaps tell the user to work the lather into the leather. Loosened dirt is suspended in the lather and pushed deeper into the leather's pores. Saddle soaps have been replaced in modern professional tanneries by emulsions which penetrate, soften and condition with greater ease and stability.

Using saddle soap

Dip a damp sponge in the saddle soap and work up a lather. Apply a light coat of the lather to the leather in small circles covering all surfaces. Frequently rinse and re-lather the sponge. Remove any build up with a damp cloth as left over soap can damage the leather. Wipe the leather dry and then treat with a leather conditioner. After using saddle soap you should clean any metal or plastic fittings. Use a stiff bristle brush to finish off suede or rough-out leathers by brushing up the nap.

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