Saddle soap is a popular cleaning product that is used to clean and condition leather. It has been around for many years, and there are mixed opinions about what it does to leather.
Some people believe that saddle soap is the best way to clean and condition leather, while others think it can damage the material.
In this article, I will explore what saddle soap does to leather and list the good and bad things that come with using it.
To quickly summarize, some of the main “Good Things” saddle soap does to leather items include;
- Saddle Soap Cleans Leather
- It Can Condition Leather
- Saddle Soap Help Protect Leather
- It Can Be Used To Lighten The Color Of Your Leather
- Gives Your Leather A Moderate Shine
- It Can Help Break In New Leather
- Waterproofs Leather
Some of the “Bad Things” saddle soap does to leather items include;
- Saddle Soap Can Dry Out Leather
- Saddle Soap Can Lighten Your Leather
Now that we know some of the things saddle soap does to leather let’s explore the details of the good and bad.
The “Good Things” Saddle Soap Do To Leather
1. Saddle Soap Cleans Leather
One of the most popular reasons people use saddle soap is because it does a great job of cleaning leather. It can remove dirt, grime, and even some stains from leather.
The way saddle soap works is by constricting body tissues making it excellent at removing stains, wax, oils, dirt, and other unwanted materials from the leather.
Saddle soap is able to do this because it is an astringent. By so doing, any dirt on the leather is removed while the leather’s pores are tightened to help prevent dirt and other materials from entering and damaging it.
It is also important to note that saddle soap does not remove all the natural oils from your leather. This is a good thing because these oils are necessary for keeping the leather soft, pliable, and healthy.
Some soaps can strip away these natural oils, but saddle soap does not. This means that it can clean your leather without damaging it.
2. It Can Condition Leather
While most saddle soap manufacturers do not disclose all of the ingredients they use, as a lot of them are long-standing family recipes, there are certain ingredients that are present in almost all saddle soaps.
One of these ingredients is lanolin or neatsfoot oil. Lanolin is a natural oil that comes from sheep’s wool. It is known for its ability to condition and soften the leather.
Neatsfoot oil is another common ingredient in saddle soap. This oil is derived from the feet and shin bones of cows.
When you use saddle soap to clean your leather, the lanolin in the soap will help to condition it and keep it soft.
I wrote a dedicated article on all of the ingredients and methods you can use to condition leather with saddle soap.
3. Saddle Soap Help Protect Leather
Another awesome thing saddle soap does to leather is to help protect it. As I mentioned earlier, almost all saddle soap contains either lanolin or neatsfoot oil.
In addition to these oils, beeswax is also a common ingredient in saddle soap. Beeswax is a natural wax that is secreted by bees. It has been used for centuries to help protect the leather from water, dirt, and other elements.
When you use saddle soap to clean your leather, the beeswax in the soap will help create a barrier on the surface of the leather. This barrier will help to protect the leather from water, dirt, and other elements.
Beeswax is also known for its ability to waterproof leather. This means that if you use saddle soap on your leather, it will help to keep it protected, especially from water damage.
4. It Can Be Used To Lighten The Color Of Your Leather
One of the more unique things saddle soap can do to leather is to help lighten its color. If you have a piece of leather that has darkened from leather conditioner or oil build-up over time, you can use saddle soap to help lighten it back up.
This is possible because, as I mentioned earlier, saddle soap is an astringent, and so it can remove some of the build-ups on the surface of the leather.
To use saddle soap to lighten your leather, simply bring the saddle soap to lather and then rub it onto the leather in a circular motion. Once you have rubbed it in, allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping it off with a clean cloth.
You may need to repeat this process a few times to see the desired results, but eventually, you should be able to lighten up your leather.
Once all the oil, wax, and dirt build-up causing the leather to darken has been removed, apply a nondarkening leather conditioner to your leather, and voila!
5. Gives Your Leather A Moderate Shine
Another thing you would enjoy from using saddle soap on your leather is a moderate shine. This is mainly possible mainly due to the beeswax and oils present, as we earlier established.
While it will not give your leather the same shine as you would get from using a polishing cream or wax, saddle soap will still give it a nice moderate shine that will help to make it look its best.
This will give your leather items a nice natural look that will not be too over the top.
To use saddle soap to give your leather a moderate shine, simply apply it to the leather in a circular motion and then buff it off with a clean cloth.
6. It Can Help Break In New Leather
If you have a new piece of leather that is stiff and needs to be broken in, saddle soap can also help with that.
The lanolin and neatsfoot oil in saddle soap will help to soften up the leather and make it more pliable and stretchy.
This will make it easier for you to break in the leather and get it to the point where it is more comfortable to use.
To use saddle soap to break in your leather, simply apply it to the leather and then rub it in using your hands.
Once you have rubbed it in, allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping it off with a clean cloth.
The “Bad Things” Saddle Soap Do To Leather
Now that we’ve gone over some of the good things saddle soap can do to leather let’s take a look at some of the bad things it can do.
While saddle soap is generally safe to use on leather, there are a few things you should be aware of before using it.
1. Saddle Soap Can Dry Out Leather
First and foremost, saddle soap is an astringent, which means it can remove some of the natural oils from your leather if not properly applied.
This can be from using the saddle soap too frequently or using too much of it when you do use it. If your leather dries out, it will become stiff, cracked, and brittle.
While this is generally not a problem, It is something that can still happen if you are not careful.
To avoid this, be sure only to use saddle soap when it is absolutely necessary, and be sure to follow it up with a leather conditioner.
This will help to replenish the natural oils in your leather and keep it from drying out.
2. Saddle Soap Can Lighten Your Leather
As you can tell, this can be a good and bad thing, depending on what you are trying to achieve.
If you are trying to lighten your leather, then saddle soap can be a great tool. However, if you are trying to keep your leather its original color, then saddle soap must be used with care.
This is because saddle soap is an astringent and will remove some of the natural oils from your leather.
These natural oils help to keep your leather its original color, so removing them can cause the leather to lighten up.
To avoid this, again, be sure only to use saddle soap when it is absolutely necessary, and be sure to follow it up with a leather conditioner.
Important Tips When Using Saddle Soap On Leather
Now that we’ve gone over some of the good and bad things about saddle soap let’s finish up with a few important tips to keep in mind when using it.
- Only use saddle soap once every 3-4months.
- Be sure to follow up with a leather conditioner.
- Only use a small amount.
- Test it on a small area first.
- Wipe it off with a clean cloth after application.
- Use circular motions when applying saddle soap to your leather.
- Allow the saddle soap to sit for a few minutes before wiping it off.
- When rinsing of saddle soap, pay attention to the nuke and crannies as it can be easy to miss them.
- Be sure to rinse the saddle soap off completely.
- Use a clean, dry cloth to buff your leather after applying saddle soap.
- If you are trying to lighten your leather, be sure to use saddle soap with care.
- If you are trying to keep your leather its original color, be sure to follow up with a leather conditioner.
There are a lot of things that saddle soap does to leather. There are particularly more benefits, or good saddle soap does to leather than bad.
Saddle soap is a great way to clean and condition your leather. It can also be used to break in new leather or lighten up dark leather.
Just be sure to use it sparingly and follow up with a leather conditioner to keep your leather healthy and looking its best. Thanks for reading!