How to Use Saddle Soap on Boots: A Careful Guide

By Marsha Harrison

Fact-checked by Kia Lowe

how to use saddle soap on boots

Leather boots are tricky to clean sometimes since there are specific cleaning materials you should use and steps to follow for each material.

Saddle soaps, for instance, are for genuine leather and not for suede or synthetic. But not everyone knows this since it is generally described as a cleaning agent for any leather.

And even knowing that saddle soaps are the appropriate cleansing agent, you’d still have to use the proper method.

So to boot out (pun intended) any confusion and avoid ruining your precious boots, let’s dig a little deeper into how to use saddle soap on boots!


What Is Saddle Soap


Before proceeding to the step-by-step guide to how we use saddle soap for leather boots, we must first understand how the cleaning agent works.

Saddle soap was initially made to clean leather saddles or tacks as it is effective in removing dirt and oil. Over time, it became a cleaner for other things made of leather.

Although saddle soap may effectively extract dirt, it may make the material brittle. Saddle soap would do fine for horse tacks or saddles since their leather is thicker than that on cowboy boots or shoes.

The soap contains harsh chemicals like sodium hydroxide, also called lye– so you risk damaging the material if you’re unaware of the proper approach to using saddle soap on boots, so follow this guide!

Step-by-step to Use Saddle Soap on Boots


Besides the necessary things to clean boots with saddle soap, we must prepare a few pieces of equipment to protect ourselves from hazardous chemicals– given that the soap has harmful substances.

So here’s what to prepare:

  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Saddle soap
  • Shoe brush/es
  • Soft rag
  • Shoe sponge
  • Clean water
  • Conditioner

Step #1: Knowing the suitable saddle soap to use.


Saddle soaps come in different variations to match the type of boots we have. You wouldn’t want to use the wrong saddle soap when cleaning as it may cause discoloration on your shoes!

Regardless of the brand, there are usually two kinds of saddle soaps available in the market– a white one and a yellow one.

  • White soap is appropriate for boots that are light in color
  • The yellow soap is for boots that are dark in color.

Before applying, double-check what boots and saddle soap you have in hand to avoid making mistakes!

Step #2: Always Remember, Safety First!

Aside from being clothed in your comfortable attire, wearing a mask and a pair of gloves is essential to keep harmful substances away from your system.

Of course, keep your children at a safe distance away from your cleaning area.

Depending on your exposure to it, sodium hydroxide may cause lung problems, burns, irritation, etc. So to be safe, wear your mask before touching your saddle soap.

Step #3: Get the Dirt Out.

Excess dirt may affect the material after using saddle soap on boots.

Using your shoe brushes, softly remove the dirt and soil on the boots.

It is essential to clean or wash the shoe brushes beforehand to avoid adding more dirt or, worse, smudging a different wax color on your boots.

The various brush sizes will help you rub out the dust or other minuscule dirt on the edges and outlines that typically accumulate dirt.

If the dirt clung too hard on the boots, you may also use a damp washcloth or rag and make sure not to rub it aggressively.

Step #4: Start Scrubbing


For this step, you will have to use a different rag, washcloth, or brush. Prepare a clean tub of water and moisten your preferred medium for cleaning.

Do not apply saddle soap directly to the boots.

Instead, place ample amounts on the brush or rag and softly scrub it on the intended area for about a few seconds until it develops suds.

You may not want to scrub saddle soap on the entire boots as you would have a tough time rubbing all parts simultaneously. Rather, do it area by area since you’d have to scrub the soap continuously the second you applied it.

Make sure to use soft material or medium for scrubbing to avoid scratching the surface of your boots.

Step #5: Wipe, Not Wash!

When you clean boots with saddle soap, wipe the remaining suds off the surface as it persists in disinfecting the material while it’s still there.

Soak your soft shoe sponge in water and gently remove the applied saddle soap.

Use a new tub of clean water, too, since the previous one already contains soap and dirt from cleaning.

Step #6: Let It Rest.

Let your boots dry before applying anything again. However, do not force them to dry up by placing them under direct sunlight as it may cause several problems– like discoloration, brittleness, or shrinking!

Instead, give it time to naturally dry indoors, preferably for a few hours or a day.

Step #7: Rejuvenate Your Boots!


Saddle soap does not only remove dirt from the surface. It also wipes off the oil that your boots need.

Much like our hair, it needs conditioning to be rejuvenated and bring back the necessary lubricants to keep it soft. So after drying your boots up, add conditioner to them.

Be sure not to apply too much conditioner as it may leave your boots saturated with oil and become damaged.

Check this guide if you want more information about the right way to use saddle soap on boots.

Bonus Tip!

After cleaning and conditioning your leather boots, keep them in dust-free shoe racks or boxes.

It’s ideal for storing them in containers that provide ventilation, good enough for the leather to breathe.

Doing so will prevent the boots from accumulating dust, forming fungus, or becoming brittle.

Phew, so there you have it! A guide on how to use saddle soap on leather boots. Read ahead if you still have more questions!

Frequently Asked Questions


1. What can you clean with saddle soap?

Saddle soap can be applied to numerous things, as long as the material is leather. Therefore, you may use saddle soap for shoes, jackets, couches, and many more.

2. What types of leather should be cleaned with saddle soap?

Saddle soaps are not for any leather, as they can only be used on genuine leather.

Since not all boots are made of genuine leather, it is not recommended to use saddle soap on suede leather boots or other types of boots.

3. What leather conditioners are recommended to use?

Keep it natural! Leather conditioners that do not contain synthetic and unnecessary substances are suitable for returning the oils that your boots need after cleaning them with saddle soap.

There is an array of choices for these, but one of the most popular leather conditioners is beeswax oil.


When dealing with intense cleaning agents, one must study the how’s and why’s to avoid damaging something you own and have spent money on. It’s already bad enough that your boots got dirty, so don’t make it worse by not knowing the risks of not cleaning them properly!

Reading a simple guide on how to use saddle soap on boots can definitely help you become more careful in cleaning your leather shoes and making them last longer.

Just remember to differentiate genuine leather from the other types and follow the dos and don’ts of using saddle soap on leather things!

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