Cleaning and Care of a Leather Saddle
The longevity of any leather saddle is directly related to the care and maintenance it receives. How often you need to clean your saddle depends on the type and frequency of your riding. If you use your saddle in sporting events and competitions then you will likely need to clean your saddle more often then someone who simply goes for weekend pleasure rides. If you expose your saddle to dirt, mud, and sweat, you will definitely need to clean your saddle more often. It is always a good idea to thoroughly clean and moisturize your saddle before storing.
Here is a list of what you will need to properly clean your saddle:
Small container of water Sponges Leather Cleaner Saddle Soap Towels Leather Conditioner Bristle Brush Silver Polish
Before starting, unfasten any buckles and remove any fittings from your saddle. With a towel moistened with water, remove any dust, dirt, mud, hair, or other debris.
Take a damp sponge and apply a mild leather cleaner or saddle soap. Work the soap into a lather and apply it to your saddle in small circular motions. Cover the entire leather area of your saddle carefully, avoiding suede or rough-out areas. Make sure you get the undersides of the leather, as well as between flaps. You may need to rinse and reapply saddle soap to your sponge several times during this process, depending on how soiled the saddle is.
Next, dampen a towel and wipe your saddle down to remove any excess soap residue. It’s import to make sure you remove all residue so that it doesn’t damage the leather over time. Keep in mind that residue left in folds and crevices can attract dirt and grime later. A cotton swab can be handy for removal of soap residue from those hard-to-get-to areas.
Next, apply a non-detergent leather conditioner sparingly and according to its label directions. Be careful not to over apply leather conditioners. Applying too much conditioner to your saddle can cause the conditioner to penetrate through to your saddle’s padding or the tree, leading to damage over time.
Finally you will want to clean the metal fittings on your saddle and wipe with a dry cloth to remove any residual cleaner. If you have a western show saddle, at this point you may also want to polish any silver trim with a quality silver polish, being careful not to get any on the leather.
If you have a suede seat, knee pads or rough out areas, you can occasionally use a medium bristle brush to brush up the nap. Do this sparingly, however, done too often it can cause bare spots or holes.