What Is Saddle Soap? (Ingredients, Benefits & How to Use)

By Marsha Harrison

Fact-checked by Kia Lowe

what is saddle soap

Saddle soap is used for cleaning and conditioning leather. It was originally used for any item of horse tacks, such as saddles or bridles. However, now, it’s applicable for other leather items, including boots, bags, or leather jackets.

What is saddle soap made of in the first place? For starters, its essential components provide deep cleaning. However, it doesn’t stop there. Continue reading to find out why you should consider saddle soap over ordinary soap for cleaning leather items.

What Are the Ingredients in Saddle Soap?

What is saddle soap made of that differentiates it from regular soap? It is typically made from astringent, natural oils, and waxes. These ingredients combine to create a gentle cleaning formula, ideal for leather.

The most common saddle soap ingredients are tallow (animal fat) and lanolin (oil used as lubricant or waterproofing agent). These two substances are almost always found on any saddle soap.

Other additives include sodium hydroxide, sodium carbonate, borax, and more. Saddle soaps also have water in them.

What Does Saddle Soap Do?

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  • The cleaning agents target stains aggressively, but the oils balance this with their ability to clean leather without drying it out.
  • The waxes protect against water damage and prevent future stains on your leather.
  • Many saddle soap products also contain enzymes that help break down dirt and stains, giving them more versatility than traditional household detergents.

This can be especially useful for leather that has been neglected for some time.

Benefits of Using Saddle Soap

What is saddle soap used for? Its origins can be traced to the early days of horse saddles, when it was used to clean horse tack before and after riding.

Today, saddle soap uses have become more diverse and include leather goods like bags or shoes.

Let’s get into what makes saddle soap a popular choice for both horse and leather owners:

  • Saddle soap is great for cleaning leather because it cleans effectively without stripping away all the natural oils. This means that your leather will stay supple and comfortable for longer periods.
  • In addition, it helps your leathers retain their softness over time because the fat deposits will not build up as much after use.
  • Saddle soap can be used on various leather goods — furniture, shoes, purses, jackets, and more.
  • Note: Some saddle soap brands are harsher than others and may cause your leather goods to dry out after periodic use.

To avoid this, ensure your saddle soap has a good combination of essential oils and waxes to moisturize and treat your leather.

Furthermore, saddle soaps can damage suede leather. So you should avoid using them on such high-porous fabrics.

How Do I Use Saddle Soap?

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Before using any product on your leather, make sure you’re following these steps:

Step 1: Prep your leather before starting

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  • Make sure the leather item is dry before you clean it. If it’s still wet from being washed or rained on recently, let it dry completely.
  • Remove any dirt or debris from the surface of your item by brushing off dust or wiping with a damp cloth (be sure not to drip water directly onto your item).
  • Make sure to brush all the nooks and crannies, especially for shoes.

Step 2: Use a saddle soap for cleaning

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  • Apply the saddle soap in small amounts. More soap is not necessarily better in this situation and may result in discoloration. If you have sensitive skin, apply it with a lint-free cloth.
  • Scrub the area for 10 seconds in circular strokes. Make sure not to scrub too hard on delicate areas like stitching or hardware where scuffs could occur.
  • Once you’re done with the first panel, use a microfiber cloth to remove the saddle soap residue as much as possible. Leaving them on can dry out your leather.
  • If there are still persistent stains on the first panel you’ve cleaned, this is when you can apply a bit more saddle soap and leave it on for a few minutes. Use vigorous strokes to get rid of stubborn marks. Like before, wipe off any excess.

Step 3: After-Care and Maintenance

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After cleaning your leather product, ‌condition it. This will help protect and preserve the leather’s original texture and appearance.

To ensure the conditioning treatment is properly absorbed, leave your leather goods to dry overnight. Choose a shaded area and avoid exposure to direct heat to avoid damaging your leather goods.

Is Saddle Soap Bad for Leather?

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While saddle soap can sometimes be too aggressive with its cleaning properties, you can avoid dried-out cracks with the help of conditioners.

Even better, you can choose novelty brands that have extra moisturizing properties.

How Often Should You Use Saddle Soap?

Saddle soap is meant to be used as a deep cleansing agent, which is why it’s not recommended for everyday use.

Too frequent usage can damage leather and cause it to crack or become dry. It’s best to use it once every two or three months.

Conclusion

What is saddle soap, and how does it clean and condition leather? It’s formulated to remove dirt and stains safely. It also moisturizes the leather, making it more pliable and less likely to crack or break down over time from exposure to the elements.

Saddle soap is an essential product for anyone who owns leather goods, from shoes and jackets to handbags.

So, suppose you’re looking for a safe and effective way to clean your leather goods, along with some added conditioning for the leather. In that case, saddle soap might be exactly what you need.

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