Saddle soap is a proprietary compound. As the name suggests, it can be used to clean saddles but it can clean, condition and protect anything made out of leather. It is a mild soap historically and in modern times used on a variety of horse tack but can also be used on leather footwear.
Saddle Soap Ingredients
This mild soap often contains lanolin for softening and beeswax as a preservative. Different brands will have their own formula, of course, but tried and true Kiwi contains PEG-100 as a moisturizer, stearic acid as an emulsifier, and carnauba wax as waterproofer and polish. They skip the traditional beeswax in favor of benzisothiazolinone so that even people with bee allergies can use it.
Is Saddle Soap Good For Leather?
It’s not always the best choice. Even a mild soap is highly alkaline. This can cause damage to the leather and even darken it. Soap can also remove the leather’s tanning agents.
The result of this may be hardening and cracking of the leather. A pH-balanced leather cleaner is preferred. Should you choose to use saddle soap, make sure to follow it with good and deep conditioning.
Should You Use Saddle Soap On Boots?
If you do, no more than once or twice every two or three months. They are for deep cleaning but not daily cleaning.
How Do You Apply Saddle Soap To Boots?
Just as with any cleaning project, you get the surface good and wet first. Apply the soap in a clockwise motion until thick lather forms. After that, hold them under a running faucet until fully rinsed off. Allow them to air dry. Once the boots are completely dry you should add a conditioner to keep the leather nourished.
Do You Use Water With Saddle Soap?
Soap doesn’t work without water, so, yes. Soap molecules bind with dirt and oil and hold it in suspension. However, water is needed to wash it away.
Do You Wash Off Saddle Soap?
You can wipe it off with a damp sponge or washcloth if holding it under a faucet would just get your item too soaked.
How Long Does It Take For Saddle Soap To Dry?
About five minutes or more should do it. This is particularly true if you intend on shining said shoes.
Can You Clean Nubuck Boots With Saddle Soap?
Not a good idea. Saddle soap, like shoe polish or anything abrasive, should be kept away from Nubuck. It is recommended that cleaning, in general, be kept to a minimum. If you must clean them, use very diluted soap flakes.
Does Saddle Soap Remove Wax?
It can remove several layers of wax and dirt. This is a must if you want your shoes polished.
Does Saddle Soap Lighten Or Darken Leather?
It actually darkens the leather if anything. High alkalines do that. It can really damage the leather if used too much, so it is not recommended for the express purpose of darkening the color of the leather.
Does Saddle Soap Waterproof Leather?
Lanolin and beeswax both have long been used to waterproof leather. When used sparingly, saddle soap can protect your boots.
Does Saddle Soap Soften Leather?
Does Saddle Soap Remove Shoe Polish?
It will, most definitely. Saddle soap will seep into every nook and cranny of the leather to clean the surface, down to the very last bit.
Will Saddle Soap Remove Stains?
Saddle soap can be used for stain removal. Be sure to read the care instructions first.
- Use a microfiber cloth so sake off as much of the dirt as you can before bringing out the saddle soap.
- Wipe the leather down with a barely damp cloth.
- Rub your damp cloth over the soap and buff off the stain.
- You can buff it until it shines of just a touch more water for rinsing.
- A little water won’t hurt your leather but don’t overdo it.
- If it’s an oil stain, a little cornstarch can help things along.
- Ink stains will need some rubbing alcohol.
Remember to condition the leather after you’ve removed the stains. If it’s a very large stain, you may need to seek professional help.
Saddle Soap Alternatives
Remember that saddle soap can dry out leather and cause it to crack. There are professional leather cleaning solutions you can buy online and in specialty stores.
The wipes are easy to use but may not work on seep, set-in stains. Neatsfoot oil may do the trick. Mineral oil works. Baby oil will also work if you’re OK with the smell of a freshly diapered baby.
Perhaps you just need an ordinary if very mild soap. Look for a neutral pH. Hot water works better than cold water. Liquid glycerin will get it shiny. Mink oil will work like lanolin by itself. Macadamia nut oil is a vegetarian alternative.
Saddle Soap Vs. Mink Oil
Saddle Soap is first and foremost a leather cleaner that lightly conditions the leather. Mink oil, on the other hand, is a leather conditioner that has waterproofing properties but does not clean leather.
- Lifts dirt and grime off leather, leaving it clean.
- Lubricates the fibers.
- Softens the leather.
- Forms a protective barrier that leaves the leather waterproof.
- Restores moisture and flexibility in order to soften and condition the leather.
- Protects the leather from further damage from elements such as salt and water
Saddle Soap Vs. Leather Conditioner
The difference is like the difference between shampoo and the conditioner you use on your hair. One has soap and gets rid of dirt and oil. The other nourishes the item and keeps it in good shape.
Just as you would wash your hair before putting in the conditioner you should only put leather conditioner on clean leather. The lanolin in saddle soap will already soften the leather and some brands will already have a conditioning agent in it.
Use only high-quality conditioners or oils. This will ensure that the leather stays soft and flexible. It will also prevent the leather from cracking as well as taking any other damage that may be caused by exposing it to the elements plus the usual wear and tear.
Saddle Soap Vs. Glycerin Soap
Glycerin is actually an ingredient in many saddle soaps. It is very good for moisturizing and conditioning. It does not evaporate and is chemically stable. It keeps the high alkaline soap from damaging the leather too much.
Many people use glycerin soap instead of saddle soap. Be careful when using glycerin soap on black leather! It can turn your black leather green. You want to look like the Fonz, not Lucky the Leprechaun!
Top Saddle Soap Brands
- Kiwi was most forthcoming about its ingredients, not only listing them but describing their purpose and why they were chosen for the task. It is a brand known for reliability, overall effectiveness, and high quality. The Kiwi saddle soap also comes with its own conditioning agents so you may not need conditioning oil afterward.
- Fiebing is becoming a fast favorite due to its versatility and lubricating abilities. It comes in white, yellow and black so you can have a soap that suits the color of your leather.
- Bickmore is made with lanolin and neatsfoot oil so your leather will be nice and shiny after you’ve cleaned it. It will not condition, however.
- Sof Sole, on the other hand, does. It not only cleans your leather but puts a protective layer around your leather so that it does not need as much maintenance.
- Otter Wax is versatile, nourishing, and made with natural products. People with bee allergies may wish to note that it uses beeswax. Remember that “natural” does not always mean safe. Even poison ivy is natural.
How Do You Make Homemade Saddle Soap?
Got a bit of that DIY spirit? Maybe you would like to make some of your own saddle soap. Many people do soap making as a hobby, but that’s usually scented artisanal bath soaps. If you want to make soap specifically for leather, here is how you do it. Your mise en place will include a cheese grater, a large pot, a rubber spatula, and heat resistant containers.
The ratio of the ingredients goes as thus:
- 3 parts soap (Anything made with animal fat is best.)
- 7 parts water
- 2 parts beeswax (Must be cut in small, uniform pieces.)
- 1 part neatsfoot oil
Roughly grate the soap and add it to a pot of water heated medium-high and allow it to dissolve. Once the soap is all melted, turn off the heat. Add the beeswax pieces while the solution is still boiling. Stir well. Add the neatsfoot oil and stir well.
Turn the heat back up if it doesn’t look like anything’s dissolving. Take care to mix in any build-up on the sides of the pot. Turn the heat off and stir until thick. When it is no longer boiling but still hot pour the mixture into containers. Let it cool completely before adding lids and labels.
Saddle soap is a good cleaning agent for leather that has become very dirty. However, because it is rather caustic it should be used sparingly. Remember to condition your leather after cleaning it and it should last for a very long time.