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Avoid These Common Leather Care Mistakes to Keep Your Products Looking Like New

Leather is a wonderful and versatile material used to make everything from clothing to furniture to horse tack. However, caring for leather requires a certain amount of knowledge and skill to ensure it lasts for a long time.

In this article, we will explore common leather care mistakes and how to avoid them.

Water on your saddle

One of the most common mistakes when it comes to leather care is the use of water on your saddle. Water can cause significant damage to leather, especially if it gets trapped under the surface of the leather.

Sweat, dirt, and other contaminants can also combine with water to create a perfect breeding ground for mould and mildew. Its essential to use a leather care product that is specifically designed to maintain the pH balance of the leather and neutralize any residues that may accelerate damage.

Sterling Essentials leather cleaner is a great example of a product that can help to prevent damage caused by water on your saddle. This cleaner contains natural ingredients that are not only effective but also safe for your leather.

It helps to remove dirt and sweat efficiently, while also restoring the pH balance of the leather. Using this cleaner will prevent the growth of mould and mildew, which could cause long-term damage to your saddle.

A word on saddle soap

Another common mistake when it comes to leather care is using saddle soap. Saddle soap is designed to clean and soften leather but is not suitable for regular use.

This product contains glycerin, which can leave a residue on your saddle after application. Over time, this buildup can attract dirt and dust, making your saddle look dingy.

Additionally, if not rinsed thoroughly, saddle soap could cause mould growth on a saddle. To avoid this mistake, its best to use a cleaner that doesnt contain glycerin to clean your saddle.

Use a mild cleaner to remove dirt and dust, followed by a conditioner to keep the leather supple. Avoid using too much soap and aim for a foamy lather rather than a thick one.

Finally, always make sure the saddle is dry before storing.

Ditch the sponge

Sponges are a popular tool in leather cleaning but are often not the best choice. Sponges can push dirt and grime into the leather instead of removing it, as well as spread contaminants over the surface.

A better option is to use a rag or microfiber cloth, which can trap dirt and absorb moisture. When cleaning your leather, first remove any loose dirt with a dry cloth or brush.

Then use a cleaner, making sure not to use too much. A small amount goes a long way, and you dont want to saturate the leather.

After cleaning, make sure to use a dry cloth to remove any excess moisture.

Conditioning after every ride

One myth that often circulates in the horse world is that you need to condition your tack after every ride. However, this is not true and could be counterproductive.

Over-conditioning your leather could cause it to become too soft and stretch, leading to premature wear and tear. Additionally, too much conditioner could cause excess moisture buildup and attract dirt and dust.

A better strategy is to condition your leather every few months, or as needed. Use a conditioner designed for leather to keep it supple and prevent cracking.

When conditioning, use the smallest amount possible and apply with a sponge, making sure to remove any excess moisture.

Careful where you throw that girth

Finally, when it comes to leather care, it’s not just what you put on your saddle that matters. How you store your tack is also incredibly important.

Throwing your girth or stirrup irons onto a dirty seat or bench can cause serious damage over time. Sweat and dirt from the girth can transfer onto the saddle, which could cause long-term damage.

Instead, invest in an airing rack or hook to hang your tack on. This will allow it to dry thoroughly and prevent any transfer of dirt or sweat.

It’s also a good idea to wipe down your girth after each use, making sure to clean all the hard-to-reach areas. Water and leather don’t mix

As mentioned earlier, water and leather dont mix.

It’s crucial to avoid exposing your leather to water or moisture, which can cause significant damage. Water can seep into the leather, causing it to become stiff or brittle.

Additionally, when leather gets wet, it expands, which could cause it to warp or become distorted. When exposed to water, leather can also attract bacteria, leading to the growth of mould and mildew.

To prevent water damage, it is best to use a leather care system designed to maintain the pH balance of your leather. Additionally, using a leather protectant spray can help repel water and moisture, preventing it from penetrating the leather.

Alternatives to water

When it comes to cleaning your leather, the best alternative to water is a leather cleaner or a leather care product. These products are designed to clean and condition leather without causing any damage.

They contain natural ingredients that are safe for your leather and wont cause any unwanted buildup or residues. Using a leather cleaner is easy and effective.

Apply the cleaner to a rag or microfiber cloth, then gently rub in a circular motion until the dirt and grime are removed. Once youve cleaned your leather, use a leather conditioner to keep it supple and soft.

Conditioning leather prevents it from drying out, which can cause cracking, fading, or other damage. In conclusion, caring for leather can be overwhelming if you don’t have the right knowledge or tools.

Avoiding common mistakes like using water, over-conditioning your tack, or storing it inappropriately can extend the life of your leather. By using the right products and techniques, you can protect and maintain your leather for years to come.

Saddle soap is a commonly used cleaning product in the equestrian world. It is marketed to clean and soften leather without damaging it.

However, saddle soap can cause more harm than good, especially if it contains glycerin, a common ingredient found in many varieties of saddle soap. Similarly, sponges are another commonly used tool in leather cleaning, but they too can cause damage to leather if not used correctly.

Glycerin in saddle soap

Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it draws in moisture and stores it. While this property is beneficial when used in certain products, like moisturizers for skin, glycerin can cause harm to leather when used in saddle soap.

When glycerin is applied on leather, it blocks the pores, preventing the natural oils of the leather to seep through and nourish the leather. As a result, leather loses its natural suppleness and begins to dry out.

In addition, the glycerin residue left on the leather attracts and locks in dirt and dust, creating a buildup over time. When glycerin reacts with moisture and the organic dust and dirt, it could invite mold and mildew to grow on leather, rendering it useless over time.

Instead of using saddle soap, it is better to use a leather cleaner that does not contain glycerin. A leather cleaner that produces a foamy lather can help to lift dirt and grime without leaving any residue behind.

In this way, leather is cleaned effectively without causing any damage or buildup.

Damage caused by glycerin

Repeated usage of glycerin in saddle soap can cause irreversible damage to leather. When used in high quantities, it weakens the natural fibers of the leather, causing moisture to seep through and create cracks or splits.

Additionally, glycerin can attract more moisture to the leather, making it a prime breeding ground for mold and mildew. To prevent these damages from happening, it is essential to avoid using glycerin-based saddle soaps.

The saddle soap should be chosen carefully by verifying the ingredients, and be present in low quantities, so it does not strip off the moisture content of the leather. Sponges vs.

soft rag/microfiber cloth

Sponges have been a popular tool for leather cleaning for years. However, they can cause damage to leather when used on their own.

Sponges don’t absorb dirt; instead, they move it around the surface, causing scratches and marks on the leather. Additionally, they can push dirt and grime into the leather instead of removing it.

As a result, the dirt and grime get trapped inside the fibers, causing long-term problems. Soft rags or microfiber cloths are a better option for cleaning leather.

These materials trap dirt and absorb moisture, resulting in a more thorough cleaning. With the combination of a cleaner or conditioner and a rag or microfiber cloth, you can achieve a deeper level of cleaning, which can help maintain the quality of your leather over time.

When using a rag or microfiber cloth, make sure to use it gently and avoid abrasive rubbing. Avoid using old t-shirts, abrasive rags, paper towels, or other materials that can scratch the surface of the leather.

In conclusion, there are certain pitfalls when it comes to cleaning leather. Glycerin-based saddle soaps and sponges are two products commonly used in leather cleaning that could cause damage.

It is essential to use the right cleaning method and the right product to maintain the quality of your leather. By using the correct tools, gentle methods, and products that don’t contain glycerin, you can avoid causing harm to your property.

Leather conditioning is an important aspect of care when it comes to preserving the quality and longevity of leather products. However, there are certain misconceptions about cleaning and conditioning, as well as best practices to follow when conditioning leather.

Additionally, the care of a girth is often overlooked, despite its daily use. Here are the dos and don’ts of conditioning leather and caring for girths.

Myth about cleaning and conditioning after every ride

One common myth about leather care is that you need to clean and condition your leather after every ride. This is not true and could cause harm to the leather.

Over-cleaning and conditioning can strip leather of its natural oils, causing it to become too soft and even stretch out over time. Additionally, using too much conditioner or leaving a residue could attract dirt, grime, and lead to damage.

The truth is, you should only clean and condition your leather when it needs it. For conditioners, a simple rule of thumb is to add conditioner whenever leather feels or looks dry.

For saddle leather kept in moderate weather, an application every three to six months will suffice. However, climate, sun exposure, and use frequency could mean more or less conditioning is necessary.

Determining the right amount of conditioner

When conditioning your leather, it is important to use the right amount to ensure the leather remains healthy and supple. The appropriate amount of conditioner to use depends on factors such as the weather, previous conditioning, and moisture balance of the leather.

Start by applying a small amount of conditioner to a sponge, then apply it to the leather. Allow the conditioner to absorb into the leather before applying more.

If the sponge starts to leave a residue behind, you are using too much. Ensure that you wipe off any excess conditioner with a soft cloth or rag once you have finished.

Excess conditioning

Using too much conditioner can be just as harmful as not using enough. Over-conditioning can lead to the buildup of residue, which traps dirt and causes discoloration or fade your leather.

If you’ve applied too much leather conditioner, wipe off the excess with a soft cloth or rag. Apply firm but gentle pressure as you wipe to remove the excess moisture.

If you’re conditioning a saddle, make sure to wipe down the metal hardware to prevent corrosion or rust. After wiping off the residual conditioner, allow the leather to dry thoroughly before using it again.

Harmful effects of leaving girth over saddle

A girth is an essential component of horse gear that is used to secure the saddle onto the horse. However, it is often overlooked when it comes to care.

Leaving a girth over a saddle could cause damage to the saddle leather, especially if it’s not cleaned regularly. When left on the saddle after riding, the girth collects sweat and dirt, which could then transfer to the saddle’s leather.

Over time, this transfer of sweat and dirt could cause damage to the seat of the saddle. Therefore, it is important to remove the girth from the saddle as soon as the ride is over and clean it before storing.

Additionally, when caring for a girth, it is important to use a gentle cleaner and to apply conditioner regularly to ensure it stays in good shape. Regularly washing the girth with warm, soapy water and allowing it to dry completely before storing is a good practice.

In conclusion, conditioning leather and caring for girths are essential to maintain the quality and lifespan of leather products. Avoid overusing conditioner or leaving residue, as they could attract dirt and cause damage.

Follow guidelines on how often to condition leather based on factors like climate, use frequency, and previous conditioning. Lastly, clean your girth to ensure it remains in good condition and doesn’t transfer sweat and dirt to the saddle.

In conclusion, proper leather care is essential for maintaining the quality and longevity of leather products. Avoiding common mistakes such as overuse of conditioner or leaving residue can go a long way to preserve the natural suppleness of leather.

Use a gentle cleaner and avoid using sponge, instead, turn to soft rags or microfiber cloth for a more thorough cleaning. Lastly, care for your girth regularly to ensure it stays clean and doesn’t transfer sweat and dirt to the saddle.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your leather products remain in optimal condition for years to come. FAQs:


Is saddle soap good for leather? A: Saddle soap can be beneficial for leather, but it is not recommended to use regularly, especially if it contains glycerin.

2. How often should leather be conditioned?

A: The frequency of conditioning leather will vary, but in moderate weather, an application every three to six months is recommended. 3.

Can sponges be harmful to leather? A: Yes, sponges can be harmful to leather if not used correctly.

It is better to use soft rags or microfiber cloths for a thorough cleaning. 4.

Why should girths be cared for regularly? A: Regular care for girths is needed to ensure they stay clean and do not transfer sweat and dirt to the saddle, which could cause damage over time.

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