One of the things I’m particular about when it comes to taking care of my precious leather items is the kind of products I use, and saddle soap is one of the most common. While it is true that saddle soap can clean and soften your leather, there are a few concerns I hear about using it.
In this article, I’m going to address one of the main concerns about using saddle soap on leather–that is, whether or not it can actually lighten the color of your leather items.
Saddle soap can help to clean, condition, and protect your leather items, but when saddle soap is not used properly, it can dry out your leather and cause it to lighten in color.
The good news is there are ways you can avoid this from happening, and this is what I’m going to focus on in the rest of this article so that you can safely and effectively use saddle soap on your leather items.
Why Does Saddle Soap Lighten Leather?
Saddle soap contains cleaning agents that help to remove dirt and grime from your leather.
However, these same cleaning agents can also strip away the natural oils in your leather, causing it to dry out and look lighter in color.
The way this happens is that the natural oils in your leather help to protect the fibers and keep them hydrated.
When these oils are removed, the leather becomes more susceptible to damage and drying out, which can cause it to change color.
How Can You Prevent Saddle Soap from Lightening Your Leather?
There are a few things you can do to prevent saddle soap from lightening your leather.
1. Do Not Use Saddle Soap Too Frequently On Leather
You should only use saddle soap on your leather when it is necessary and not more than once or twice a year.
If you use saddle soap too frequently, it will strip away the natural oils in your leather faster, causing it to dry out and change color.
Only use saddle soap when your leather is starting to look dull or dirty and be sure to follow up with a leather conditioner afterward to help replenish the natural oils in your leather.
2. Use The Right Amount Of Saddle Soap On Leather
A little bit of saddle soap can go a long way, so when you use saddle soap on leather, be sure to use a small amount.
You want to use a damp microfiber cloth to create enough lather to clean your leather without using too much soap.
If you use too much saddle soap, it will be more difficult to rinse it off completely, and this can lead to the soap drying on your leather, which can cause lightening.
3. Only Use Top Quality Saddle Soap On Your Leather
There are different types and brands of saddle soap available on the market, so it is important to choose a top-quality saddle soap that is designed for use on leather.
Be sure to read the labels carefully to find a saddle soap that is pH balanced and alcohol-free so that you do not purchase one that will lighten or discolor your leather.
You should also avoid saddle soaps that contain harsh chemicals or fragrances, as these can also damage your leather.
A good example of saddle soap that I and many others have tried and tested and know to be safe for use on leather is Fiebing’s Saddle Soap. Fiebing’s is a reputable company that has been making top-quality leather care products for a very long time.
4. Always Condition Your Leather After Using Saddle Soap
One of the best things you can do to reduce the negative effects of using saddle soap is to follow up with a leather conditioner.
Leather conditioners help to replenish the natural oils in your leather that are stripped away when you use saddle soap.
This will help to keep your leather hydrated and looking its best. Be sure to choose a quality leather conditioner that is compatible with the type of leather you are using it on.
5. Do Not Dry Your Leather With Sunlight Or Heat
After you have used saddle soap and conditioned your leather, it is important to let it dry slowly and naturally.
Do not expose your leather to sunlight or heat, as this can further damage the fibers and cause lightning.
Allow your leather to air dry in a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight.
6. Do Not Scrub Too Hard When Using Saddle Soap
When you are using saddle soap on your leather, be sure to scrub gently and not too hard.
Scrubbing too hard can damage the fibers in your leather, causing them to break down and become lighter in color.
Gentle scrubbing with a damp microfiber cloth is all that is necessary to clean your leather without damaging it.
You also do not want to use anything abrasive when using saddle soap on your leather items.
How To Restore Leather That Has Been Lightened By Saddle Soap
If your leather has already been lightened by saddle soap, there are a few things you can do to try and restore it.
1. Apply A Leather Conditioner
One of the best ways to restore leather that has been lightened by saddle soap is to apply a leather conditioner.
As you rightfully know, leather conditioners help to replenish the natural oils in your leather that are stripped away when you use saddle soap.
Ingredients in the leather conditioner, like the oil from neatsfoot, lanolin, or beeswax, can help to darken your leather.
Applying a leather conditioner is also a good way to prevent your leather from lightening in the future.
Be sure to choose a quality leather conditioner that is compatible with the type of leather you are using it on.
You may need to apply the leather conditioner several times before you see any results. But ensure you’re applying only very thin layers.
2. Use A Leather Dye
Another way to darken leather that has been lightened by saddle soap is to use a leather dye.
If the damage has happened over a long period of time and the leather has become very light, you may need to use a darker color dye than the original color of your leather.
When using a leather dye, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and test it on an inconspicuous area of your leather first to ensure that it does not damage or discolor your leather.
Leather dyes are available in a variety of colors, so you should be able to find one that closely matches the color of your leather.
Applying a leather dye is a bit more involved than simply applying a leather conditioner, so be sure you are comfortable with the process before you begin.
If done correctly, using a leather dye is an effective way to darken your leather.
Saddle soap is a great way to clean your leather, but it can also cause your leather to lighten in color if you are not careful.
Always follow up your saddle soap application with a leather conditioner and avoid exposing your leather to sunlight or heat.
If your leather has already been lightened by saddle soap, you can try to restore it by applying a leather conditioner or using a leather dye.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions.