5 Saddle Soap Alternatives (Without Causing Any Damage!)

You would like to clean some leather items around the home, office, or car but you do not have a leather saddle soap immediately or you simply want to try alternatives to saddle soap, then this article will be of tremendous benefit to you.

I did a research and tested out a few alternatives to saddle soaps and I’m ready to share with you all I found.

Here are 5 saddle soap alternatives:

  • Wipes: (Mohawk wipes, fenice, or baby wipes)
  • Soap and Water: (pH neutral soap and ordinary (warm) water)
  • White Vinegar and Olive Oil
  • White Vinegar and Boiled Linseed Oil
  • DIY Saddle Soap: (Water, Soap, Beeswax, & neatsfoot oil)

There are a few little things that are important to understand about using each of the outlined saddle soap alternatives, but luckily I am here to make sure you don’t damage your cherished leather items in any way!

Before we get into the saddle soap alternatives, it’s worth mentioning that it’s always important to get the right tool for the right job — in this case the right cleaner for the right cleaning job.

Getting a good quality saddle soap like the Fiebings Leather Saddle Soap from Amazon is going to give you the best cleaning & nourishment your leather needs, save you a lot of time, effort, and a whole lot of guess work.

But from experience, I find that sometimes, the very simple home sourced alternatives can bring a lot of good results, quite cheap and convenient.

What’s important is to test any saddle soap alternative you go for on a small inconspicuous areas of the leather item to see if there’s no color lose or darkening after drying. With that said, let’s give these saddle soap alternatives a good shot!

1. Wipes

As a matter of fact, we have all done it, we have grabbed a bunch of wipes as soon as our leather couches, jackets, or even shoes takes a stain hit.

But the real question is what kind of wipes are good saddle soap alternatives and what types of leather is it okay to clean using wipes?

Leather is especially stylish and a rocking fabric but can come with a price. Spills and stains from daily activities can leave you with a hefty bill from the dry cleaners and expensive cleaning products.

But that shouldn’t always be the case as sometimes all it will take is simply using wipes. There are some amazing all-in-one and deep cleaning wipes specially made for cleaning and are great alternatives to saddle soaps. Also, some regular baby wipes or wipes from brands, depending on which part of the world you’re from like pledge and fenice wipes will do too!

The very best best wipes are made to be very gentle on the skin so baby wipes are as safe on leather as they are on a baby’s soft delicate skin. 

You should bare in mind that wipes in general will be most suitable on leathers such aniline, bycast, pigmented, and pull up leather but not for suede or nubuck.

Here’s all you will need to use this saddle soap alternative:

  • Wipes – (fenice or Mohawk wipes, or baby wipes)
  • Conditioner

Here’s how you use wipes as an alternative to saddle soap:

Step 1: Just take 1-2 pieces of wipes and wipe in a circular motion to remove dirt, dust, grease, and any other grim that has been registered on the leather over the period. Don’t scrub!

Step 2: Follow up the cleaning by applying a leather conditioner

One thing you will notice when using wipes to clean your leather items is that the wipes (especially the ones made purposely for cleaning leather) will be a lot quicker on pigmented leather and much rather slower on aniline leather.

2. Soap and Water

Using water and soap is probably one of the very first and easy saddle soap alternatives to try. But what type of soap and how do you go about it without harming your leather?

When it comes to the kind of soap you can use instead of saddle soap, a soap with a neutral pH scale between 7 to 8 will do just fine. These types of soaps includes pH neutral body soaps, face soaps, and natural dish soaps.

The pH scale of soap is what’s normally used to determine how acidic or alkaline different a soap is. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14 with the middle, 7 considered neutral. So any product that falls below 7 is considered acidic while anything above 7 is alkaline. You will find that dish soaps like ivory dish soap, Dove soap, Murphy’s oil soap, etc all fall in the bracket of a neutral cleaners.

Doing a bit of digging about the pH level will do you a lot of good to help you determine which soaps are going to act like or similar to a leather saddle soap.

Button line, you will be able to use soaps with pH levels equal to or below 7 to cut through dirt, grease, proteins, oils, and other organic items. But the soaps that are considered Acidic are for removing rusts, and other minerals which we won’t be dealing with on leather.

The key thing to remember is, after cleaning with a pH neural soap, it’s important to condition or nourish the leather with a leather conditioner. You will, however, be able to get some amounts of nourishments on your leather with soaps like dove because it contains some moisturizer.

Now to the easy part, when it comes to water, you can use ordinary water. If it so happens your leather item is really dirty with grime, you can use hot water together with the pH neural soap and give the leather a good scrub.

Here’s what you will need:

  • A moisturizer soap (Dove)
  • 2 Soft clean cloths or rags
  • Water

Step 1: Lather the soap on with your soft rag. Don’t get the rag too wet!

Step 2: Use the lathered rag to clean and remove dirt and grim from the leather item(s)

Step 3: After you have thoroughly given the leather item a good scrub, buff off the lather with the second dry soft clean rag. Again, don’t rinse with water! just buff! This will allow the moisturizing soap to condition the leather nicely.

3. White Vinegar and Olive Oil

Vinegar, especially distilled white vinegar, is very versatile and I bet it’s something our parents and their parents before them used. Now it’s our time to also discover one of the most effective cleaning staples in every home: vinegar.

The application of vinegar is almost endless and it’s an environmentally safe alternative to a lot of the chemically made and store-bought saddle soaps and cleaners. I bet this route is less expensive too.

Here’s how you used white vinegar and olive oil in place of saddle soap to work out some remarkable cleaning nourishing wonder on your leather!

Here’s what you need:

  • White vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 2 Soft clean cloths or rags

Here’s how you use it

Step 1: Measure 1/2 part of olive oil and 1/4 parts of white vinegar into a bottle or container (spray bottle preferably).

Step 2: Mix the two ingredients together by simply shaking the bottle vigorously 3-5 times. Done!

Step 3: Put a small amount of the concoction over your leather surface and rub with the soft clean rag. You can repeat this process till the grim you’re tackling is gone from your leather. The vinegar mixture will clean the surface nicely and then evaporate leaving little traces of olive oil on the leather.

Step 4: You can go ahead and buff the leather with the second dry clean cloth until the olive oil is evenly absorbed evenly into the leather, conditioning and softening it.

4. White Vinegar and Linseed Oil

Again another great alternative to using saddle soap for cleaning leather is to combine white vinegar with linseed oil to restore whether a leather furniture, car interior, or shoes to its former glory.

Here’s what you will need:

  • White vinegar
  • linseed oil
  • Spray bottle
  • 2 Soft clean rags

Here’s how you go about it:

Step 1: Measure equal parts of white vinegar and linseed oil each in a separate cup or bowl.

Step 2: Boil the linseed oil for a couple of minutes, 3-5minutes tops and allow it to cool down.

Step 3: Pour equal parts of the white vinegar and the boiled linseed oil into a spray bottle (it can be a clean recycled spray bottle) and shake it up well for both ingredients to mix up.

Step 4: Now, lightly spray it over your leather item and give it a gentle spread using your soft clean cloth.

Step 5: Allow it to settle for a couple of minutes (2-3 minutes) and then rub it off with the second clean cloth

Step 6: Buff! Makes sure there are no oil residue on the leather item.

5. DIY Saddle Soap

“Doing a leather saddle soap yourself” is another great alternative you can consider. This means you’re going to get a leather cleaner if not same, very close to an ideal saddle soap. There are a couple simple ways to make an effective saddle soap. But the video below presents a much simpler approach.

This a fairly simply video resource on how to make saddle soap:

I found also another helpful resource here that also teaches two additional approaches. You should definitely check it out and see which is the most easiest for you.

I must say, DIYing saddle soap instead of getting one from the shelves will require a bit of effort to do it right. If you’d like the challenge, Cheers to you!


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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