Why Is Saddle Soap Bad For Leather? The 5 Hidden Dangers

Why is saddle soap bad for leather?

Saddle soap is a popular leather cleaning product. It is often recommended for cleaning and conditioning all types of leather, from boots and furniture to car seats and purses.

But what many people don’t realize is that saddle soap, improper use, and prolonged use can actually do more harm than good. In this article, we will discuss the five hidden dangers of using saddle soap on leather.

You often hear only the good things about saddle soap, like how it’s a natural product or how it can help preserve leather. But there are some things you might not know about saddle soap, like the fact that it can actually damage leather if not used properly.

5 Saddle Soap Alternatives for Leat...
5 Saddle Soap Alternatives for Leather

Reasons Saddle Soap Can Be Bad For Leather

Here are five hidden dangers of using saddle soap on leather:

1. Saddle Soap Can Dry Out Leather

One of the main concerns about using saddle soap on leather is that it can dry out the leather. Like most cleaning products, saddle soap contains soap agents that strip away the essential oils in the leather each time you clean them.

If you use saddle soap too frequently or if you don’t condition the leather after using it, the leather can become dry and brittle. This can cause cracking, peeling, and even fading.

Because saddle soap is known to contain some conditioning ingredients, neatsfoot oil, and beeswax, to mention a few, a lot of people make the mistake of using saddle soap to clean their leather items and not following up with a conditioner.

If you want to use saddle soap on your leather, make sure to follow up with a good quality leather conditioner to replenish the natural oils that were stripped away.

Conditioning your leather after using saddle soap will help keep it supple, soft, and looking its best.

You also want to avoid using too much saddle soap too frequently, as this can also lead to drying out the leather.

Only use saddle soap when absolutely necessary, and be sure to follow up with a conditioner each time.

When used properly, saddle soap can actually help preserve leather by preventing it from drying out and cracking.

Just be sure to use it sparingly and always follow up with a quality leather conditioner. I can’t over-emphasize this!

2. Saddle Soap Can Leave Behind Thick Residue

Saddle soap contains heavy amounts of oils and waxes that are usually not common in regular soap. This can make the lather from saddle soap very thick, creamy, and oily.

If you don’t rinse the leather properly after using saddle soap, this thick residue can be left behind on the leather.

Over time, this residue will build up and make the leather feel either sticky, gummy, or stiff and crusty.

It can also attract dirt and dust, leading to your leather becoming stained and looking dull.

To avoid this problem, always make sure to rinse the leather thoroughly after using saddle soap. You might even need to do it a few times to remove all of those thick pesky residues.

And be sure to follow up with a conditioner to replenish any oils that may have been stripped away during cleaning.

Saddle soap is great for cleaning leather but only when used properly. Be sure to rinse the leather thoroughly after using saddle soap and follow up with a conditioner to avoid any of these hidden dangers.

3. Saddle Soap Can Change The pH Level of Leather

Generally, saddle soap is on the alkaline side of things, with a pH level between eight and ten. Leather, on the other hand, has a natural pH level between four and five.

Saddle soap can actually change the pH level of leather, making it more alkaline over a period of time.

Leather needs to be pH neutral so that it doesn’t become dry and brittle. When the pH level is changed, the leather will begin to react to so many things around it, causing it to dry out or discolor.

If you must use saddle soap on your leather, be sure to follow up with a leather conditioner that will help restore the pH level back to normal.

You must also make sure you’re using very small amounts of saddle soap on your leather and rinsing it off completely afterward.

And, as I mentioned earlier, you do not want to use saddle soap on your leather goods too frequently as this can lead to dreadful dangers. You would typically use saddle soap about once or twice every year.

There are also specialized cleaners for leather that have a neutral pH level, so consider using one of those instead of saddle soap.

4. Saddle Soap Can Cause Leather To Crack

A lot of the dangers of not properly using saddle soap can lead to two main things: drying out or cracking of the leather.

While the former can be treated, the latter is pretty much irreversible.

Once leather cracks, there is no going back, and the item will likely need to be replaced.

This is why it’s so important to use saddle soap only when necessary and to follow up with a quality conditioner afterward.

Cracking is one of the most common problems caused by using saddle soap on leather.

This happens when the saddle soap strips away all of the natural oils from the leather, causing it to become dry and brittle.

Once the leather becomes dry, any flexing or bending will cause it to crack and break.

To avoid this, always make sure to use saddle soap sparingly and follow up with a conditioner.

5. Saddle Soap Can Make Leather Goods Fade

Another rather reversible hidden danger of using saddle soap on leather is that it can cause the leather to fade.

This occurs the more you scrub the leather with saddle soap and the more you expose it to poor drying conditions like sunlight.

Over time, this will cause the leather to lose its natural color and become faded. The ingredients in saddle soap can gradually remove the dyes used to color the leather.

This is a lot easier because a lot of the dyes used to color leather are not colorfast and will come off with a bit of elbow grease.

To avoid this, always make sure you’re using a very small amount of saddle soap on your leather and rinsing it off completely afterward.

You should also avoid exposing the leather to direct sunlight or heat sources as a way to dry the leather after cleaning–as this can speed up the fading process.

When Do These Dangers Become Imminent?

Now that we know all of the hidden dangers of using saddle soap on leather, you might be wondering when these dangers actually become imminent.

The answer to this really depends on a few things;

  • How Often You Use The Saddle Soap On Your Leather
  • How Much Saddle Soap Is Used
  • How The Saddle Soap Is Applied To The Leather
  • And How You Dry The Leather After Cleaning With The Saddle Soap

Let’s take a look at these factors one by one;

How Often You Use The Saddle Soap On Your Leather

If you use saddle soap sparingly on your leather, usually no more than once or twice a year, then the dangers will likely not be an issue.

The same goes for if you use very small amounts of saddle soap and make sure to rinse it off completely afterward.

However, if you use saddle soap more frequently than that, or if you use large amounts of saddle soap, then the dangers will become more prevalent.

How Much Saddle Soap Is Used

If you only use a small amount of saddle soap on your leather and make sure to rinse it off completely afterward, then the dangers will likely not be an issue.

However, if you use large amounts of saddle soap, then the dangers will become more pronounced.

How The Saddle Soap Is Applied To The Leather

If you apply the saddle soap to the leather using a soft cloth and rub it in gently, then the dangers will likely not be an issue.

The issue arises when you scrub the leather too harshly with the saddle soap, as this can cause the leather to dry out and crack.

How You Dry The Leather After Cleaning With The Saddle Soap

Most beginners or first-timers will set their leather items in the sun to dry after they are done cleaning them with saddle soap.

This is a big no-no as it can cause the leather to fade and dry out faster. The best way to dry your leather after cleaning it with saddle soap is by letting it air dry in a cool, dark place.

How To Avoid The Dangers of Using Saddle Soap On Leather

Now that you know all of the hidden dangers of using saddle soap on leather, you’re probably wondering how you can avoid them.

If you have been reading through the article carefully, you will realize I have left a few nuggets of wisdom along the way.

But as a recap, here are the main takeaways:

  • Use saddle soap only when necessary and in small amounts.
  • Follow up with a quality conditioner afterward to restore the pH level back to normal.
  • Avoid using saddle soap too frequently–about once or twice every year should suffice.
  • There are specialized cleaners for leather that have a neutral pH level–so consider using one of those instead.
  • Be sure never to leave saddle soap on the leather for too long, and always rinse it off completely afterward.
  • Avoid exposing the leather to direct sunlight or heat sources as a way to dry the leather after cleaning.
  • If you must use saddle soap, be sure to do a patch test in an inconspicuous area first.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped to show you the hidden dangers of using saddle soap on leather. This is not to say there aren’t any good uses for saddle soap.

But if you’re not careful, the dangers definitely outweigh the benefits. So be sure to use it sparingly and always follow up with a quality conditioner afterward.

While it may be tempting to use saddle soap because of all the good things you might have heard or read about it, it’s important to remember the proper way of using saddle soap.

If not used correctly, it can cause irreversible damage to your leather goods.

So the next time you go to clean your leather couch or boots, be sure to keep these dangers in mind! Thanks for reading.

Kwabena

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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