Stabilize your saddle.,
Dust your saddle.,
Prepare a lather.,
Soap your saddle.,
Rinse the saddle.,
Dry your saddle.,
Condition the smooth leather.,
Condition any rawhide areas.,
Remove excess conditioner.,
Decide if it is time to clean your saddle.,
Check with the manufacturer.,
Gather your supplies.
Put your saddle on a sawhorse, saddle rack, or something similar to hold it up while you clean it. This keeps your saddle stable and easy to adjust while you clean.
Once your saddle is stable, remove any add-ons such as stirrups. These should be cleaned separately.;
, Getting loose dirt off before wetting your saddle makes the rest of the cleaning faster and easier. Use a dry cloth to remove any loose dirt and dust before wetting your saddle.Avoid grinding dirt into the saddle while dusting. Use a gentle hand to swipe over the surface of the saddle.
Be sure to use a clean cloth or soft-bristled saddle brush with nothing on it.
, Dip a double-sided kitchen sponge into a bucket of warm water. Gently wring it out and lather it up with saddle soap.
Be sure the sponge is damp enough to create your lather, but not dripping wet. Excess water may cause the leather to dry slowly and could lead to warping or distortion.
You can also use a loofah glove to apply and lather the saddle soap. Loofah gloves make cleaning stirrups and reins easier.
, Place the soaped sponge on the saddle and rub vigorously in small circular motions. Cover the entire smooth leather surface of the saddle, including the underside and beneath flaps.Avoid suede, specialty leathers, or rough areas of the saddle.
Rinse out your sponge and re-lather it with soap any time the sponge starts to dry or becomes too dirty.
, Use a clean, damp sponge or a damp towel to wipe off any excess soap. Rinse the sponge or towel and repeat until all soap residue is gone .
Pay close attention to folds and seams on your saddle. Use a toothbrush or cotton swab to remove soap residue from tight areas.
, Use a dry towel to wipe away any excess water. Then, allow your saddle to dry naturally before conditioning.
Keep your saddle out of direct sunlight while it drys, and do not apply any direct heat such as a blow dryer.
Let your saddle dry most of the way before conditioning, but try to condition before it is completely dry. You do not want your saddle to feel moist when you condition, but it should still be cool to the touch.
, Use a soft towel to apply a light layer of conditioner or oil over the entirety of the saddle. Allow the conditioner to absorb into the saddle for one hour.Use a purpose-made leather conditioning cream or neatsfoot oil to condition the saddle. Avoid products that are petroleum-based, as they could dry out the leather.
Re-apply oil or cream to your towel as necessary to ensure even coverage. Uneven coverage may cause discoloration.
, If your saddle has any rawhide elements, condition them separately. Use a conditioning cream meant especially for rawhide.
If you are unsure of what conditioner to use on each part of your saddle, it’s best to ask someone at your barn or the tack store.
Using the wrong conditioner can cause your saddle to dry out or become deteriorated, distorted, or discolored.
, Use a soft, dry towel to remove any excess oil or cream. Then, buff your saddle with a smooth cloth to give it a nice finish.
Once your saddle has been buffed, it is clean and ready for use.
, How often you need to clean your saddle will depend on how often you ride, as well as the type of riding you do. Make sure your saddle is getting cleaned regularly, but not so much that it dries out or damages the leather.
If you ride daily, you may need to clean your saddle every two to three months.
If you ride once a week or less, your saddle may only require cleaning twice a year.
If you ride in environments where the saddle is frequently exposed to dirt, mud, salt, or sweat, you will want to clean your saddle whenever it gets noticeably dirty or starts to feel brittle.
If you are about to store your saddle for a long stretch, such as a full season, clean and condition it before you store.
, Every leather is a little different, and saddles differ from maker to maker. That is why it is a good idea to check with your saddle’s manufacturer to see what they recommend for your particular saddle.Check any printed materials that your manufacturer may have provided to look for recommended products, as well as products that might damage the leather.
If you are unsure about a product, call the manufacturer directly to ask, “Will this damage your leather saddles?”
, Your saddle should be conditioned soon after it is cleaned. Make sure you have everything you need to fully clean and moisturize your saddle. You will need:
A bucket of water
A bristle brush
Leather conditioner or neatsfoot oil