Posted by Carolyn Adams, Tue, July 9, 2013
It’s summer! Hopefully that means you are riding more often, which means that you’re probably paying closer attention to the condition of your saddle and tack. Keeping your leather in good shape isn’t complicated, but can raise questions about the best way to keep these items in top condition.
Here are a few myths and misconceptions about leather.
- You shouldn’t get leather wet. So not true! Leather is, in fact, made in water. Hardened leather isn’t the result of getting wet, but of improper drying (never use heat!) or a lack of essential lubrication in the fibers. Using appropriate cleaners and conditioners, such as those provided by Lexol, can help your leather goods look great and last longer.
- One-step products are a good way to both clean and condition leather. Yes and no. No question, one-step products are the height of convenience, and in a world where all of us are constantly rushed they offer a great solution for quick cleaning and conditioning. However, since cleaning requires oils to be removed from the saddle and conditioning requires oils to be added back, single-step treatments should be complemented with the more time-consuming (sorry!) process of a full cleaning followed by the use of a great leather conditioner.
- Saddle soap is a good leather cleaner and conditioner. Well, not exactly. Saddle soap products are extremely economical and very commonly used, but aren’t necessarily your best choice for keeping your fine leather saddle and tack in top-notch condition. Soaps are high alkaline, which can damage and darken the leather. Soap also removes leather’s tanning agents, which can lead to hardening and cracking as the leather is detanned. We recommend using a pH-balanced leather cleaner (we happen to like Lexol!) and conditioner in combination. If you do choose to use saddle soap, be sure to follow up with a nice deep conditioning treatment for your leather items.
- A blond or light-colored saddle will darken with age. Not necessarily. Typically, darkening is due to the application of the heavy, raw oils and alkaline of saddle soaps. The use of a quality cleaner and conditioner (such as Lexol Neatsfoot for your lightest leathers) can keep a light saddle looking great for years!