Saddle soap is a popular product used to clean and restore leather. It is said to be able to remove dirt, sweat, and grime to help keep leather looking and feeling good. But does saddle soap really dry out leather? In this article, we will take a closer look at saddle soap and its effects on leather. We will also discuss some alternatives that can be used to clean and condition your leather products.
Saddle soap is a traditional leather soap for tack, and saddlery, and can be used on other leather items but it will dry out more than other types of leather cleaning soap due to its caustic nature. So it is important to thoroughly condition or oil your leather whenever you use saddle soap on it.
Due to this, saddle soap is perfect for hardwearing leather items that may not need to be cleaned too frequently, such as work boots, saddles, bridles, reins, etc.
And once you have used saddle soap on your leather, it is a good idea to follow up with a conditioner or oil. This will help to replenish the natural oils that were removed during the cleaning process. There are many different types of conditioners and oils available, so you can choose one that best suits your needs.
Stick around as I delve deeper into this topic and reveal the truth about saddle soap when it comes to drying out leather.
Reason Why Saddle Soap Causes Leather To Dry Out
Saddle Soap Is A Strong Alkaline Base
The main reason saddle soap causes leather to dry is because it is a very strong alkaline base. This means that when you use saddle soap on leather, it will strip away the natural oils that are present.
These natural oils are important for keeping leather soft, supple, and healthy. Without these natural oils, leather can become dry, stiff, and brittle. It can also cause the leather to crack, darken, or fade in color.
If you know anything about leather and the pH level it needs to stay healthy, you will know that a pH neutral (which is around a pH of 7) is what it needs.
Saddle soap, on the other hand, has a pH level of around 10 or more. This is a very alkaline environment and will quickly strip away the natural oils from leather. In addition, the alkaline nature of saddle soap can also weaken the fibers of the leather, making it more susceptible to tearing and ripping.
All of these factors combined are why saddle soap should be used sparingly or only on hardwearing leather items. If you do use saddle soap on leather, be sure to follow up with a good conditioner or oil to help replenish the natural oils that were removed.
How Does Saddle Soap Affect Leather
1. Saddle Soap Can Cause Damage To The Finish On Leather
One of the main problems with saddle soap is that it can cause damage to the finish on leather. This is because saddle soap is a very harsh cleaning agent. It can strip away the natural oils in leather, as well as the waxes and other finishes that are applied to it. This can leave your leather looking dry, cracked, and brittle.
This is easier because of how you have to work the saddle soap into the leather to be able to remove all the dirt and grime you need to. You have to be very careful when using saddle soap on leather, as it is very easy to damage the finish.
This will mean one of the safest ways to mitigate the kind of damage saddle soap can do to your leather is to make sure that you’re using it very sparingly and not scrubbing too hard so that you do not damage the finish on your leather surface.
2. Saddle Soap Can Cause Leather To Crack And Peel
Another problem with using saddle soap on leather is that it can cause the leather to crack and peel. This is because, as mentioned before, saddle soap is a very harsh cleaning agent.
It can strip away the natural oils in leather, as well as the waxes and other finishes that are applied to it. This will leave your leather looking dry, cracked, and brittle.
In addition, the alkaline nature of saddle soap can also weaken the fibers of the leather, making it more susceptible to tearing and ripping.
3. Saddle Soap Can Cause Leather To Fade In Color
Another issue that can arise from using saddle soap on leather is that it can cause the leather to fade in color. The more you use saddle soap to clean your leather items without proper conditioning, the more likely it is that the leather will start to fade in color.
The dyes that have been used to color the leather will gradually get seeped out each time you use saddle soap to clean it. With time, your leather will begin to look lighter in color than it was originally.
4. Saddle Soap Can Change The pH of Leather
Another way saddle soap may affect your leather items if care is not taken is by changing the pH level. The ingredients in saddle soap are more alkaline than leather, which is naturally pH neutral.
If saddle soap is used too frequently or left on for an extended period of time, it will begin to change the pH level and make the leather more alkaline. This will cause the leather to become dry, brittle, and cracked.
5. Saddle Soap Can Cause Mold Growth on Leather
The lather or sud when you use saddle soap and you do not thoroughly remove it will buildup increases, folds, and stitching of the leather.
This will create an environment for mold to grow, which can cause discoloration and other damage to your leather items.
Therefore, it is important that you take care to remove all the suds from your leather after using saddle soap. You can do this by wiping it down with a damp cloth or sponge.
Once you have removed the suds, you should then dry the leather with a clean, soft cloth. You should avoid using saddle soap on your leather items more than once every couple of months to prevent any damage from occurring.
6. Saddle Soap Can Cause Leather To Darken In Color
Saddle soap can also cause leather to darken in color. This is because the soap can leave a film on the leather that will build up over time and cause the leather to appear darker.
This can also happen with certain types of leather. Not all leathers are the same so while saddle soap can cause some types of leather to fade, other types of leather may actually darken.
It is important to test saddle soap on a small, inconspicuous area of your leather item before using it all over to avoid any damage or discoloration.
What Is The Optimal Way To Use Saddle Soap & How
At this point, it may seem as if using saddle soap on leather is more trouble than it’s worth but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Saddle soap can actually be beneficial for leather if it is used properly and in moderation. Here are some tips on how to use saddle soap without causing your leather dry out or get damaged:
- Use a small amount of saddle soap on a damp soft, clean cloth. Microfiber cloths are usually the best.
- Rub the cloth onto the leather in a circular motion to create a lather.
- Avoid using too much saddle soap as this can cause damage. Also, do now make the leather too wet in the process.
- Once you have created a lather, use a damp cloth to remove the suds.
- Dry the leather with a clean, soft cloth.
- Finally, condition the elather with a quality leather conditioner to help restore moisture and protect it from further damage.
You can use saddle soap to clean your leather items once or twice a year depending on how often they get used or come into contact with dirt and grime.
By following these steps, you can use saddle soap to clean your leather without causing any damage. Just remember to use it in moderation and always condition the leather afterward.
You can check out an article I wrote earlier about some saddle soap alternatives you can use if you’re still not convinced that saddle soap is the best option for cleaning your leather.
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