How to clean a saddle

The best advice to clean a saddle

You need:

  1.  Sponge
  2.  Glycerin soap
  3.  Bitumen
  4.  Water
  5.  Rag
  6.  Bucket
  7.  Brush

Steps to be followed to clean the saddle:
Remove the girth, the saddle cloth, the stirrups and the straps. Clean the saddle with a wet rag to remove dirt and sweat. Soap up the whole saddle.
The equipment is to be cleaned, soaped up and greased with neatsfoot oil or a special preparation for leather.
The leather cinches need to be cleaned well with soap, while for the cloth ones, a hard brush is enough. Finally, the saddle cloth and pads must be brushed or washed with gentle detergents.
After hours of riding over dusty plains and long wild paths, dust can get into every nook and cranny of your saddle. But it’s nothing that cannot be removed with a bit of effort.


  1. Soak a sponge in a bucket of warm water. 
  2. Squeeze the sponge until it is just damp, and clean your saddle and harness. (This allows the pores of the leather of the saddle to open so you can clean and condition your saddle and harness when you apply soap to the saddle)
  3. Rub the bar of leather soap with the sponge to create lather.
  4. Apply the soap to the leather moving down from the top, back up in reverse, and all over. This will require some work and your hand may hurt when you are done, but the result is a clean and soft saddle ready for an exhibition.
  5. Clean ALL the lather off the saddle with a dry rag.
  6. Is there still some dirt stuck somewhere? A toothbrush is the solution. Make some lather with the bristles and go into the cracks and places difficult to reach. Yes, this may be an arduous method and take some time, but simply cleaning with soap and a sponge, even if only once a month, you’ll see the difference.
  7. Since you are already covered in lather, and you want your saddle to look like new, why not polish it a little? A brightener and conditioner will soften the leather, and make it look like the day you bought it.
  8. Usually you can clean all the surfaces of the saddle that aren’t leather with a damp cloth, or sometimes with carpet cleaner.



Periodically make sure your saddle is the right size for your horse.

Clean your saddle regularly, it won’t take long and it’ll make your saddle last longer.

There are several kinds of soaps and conditioners for saddles: damp towelettes, sprays and bars. Use whichever you prefer.


Read the label. Some kinds of soaps need to be allowed to work over some period of time, others need to be removed before they dry. 

Saddle soaps may dry the leather, so try to use soap which includes a conditioner every so often. Use saddle soap when it is dirtier. You can also use a damp rag to clean off the dirt before applying soap and conditioner.

Some saddle surfaces cannot be cleaned with soap, you need to use alternative cleaning agents. Saddle soap may damage these elements.

You can clean your bridle and other leather parts of your harness the same way you clean your saddle, but make sure you DO NOT use leather soap on the bit. If some drops on it my mistake, clean it off immediately.

Advice on maintaining your saddle

Along with your horse, the saddle is probably the most important element for a good horseman, so keeping it well is key to lengthen its useful life being as functional and looking as good as the day it was purchased.

Although the most important thing is common sense and giving it a good use, some maintenance tips for saddles are never a bad idea:

It’s important to keep a saddle in a closed environment, not too cold or too hot. It is also essential there’s no water dripping on it or that it’s not somewhere very humid. If there’s a lot of humidity in winter, it is convenient to cover it with a thick cloth or place it every so often where there is heating; humidity is leather’s greatest enemy.

A saddle should be placed on a chair rest appropriate to its size. With this gesture, we will help it not to lose its shape.

After riding, always clean those parts in closest contact with the horse with a rag and some soap to remove dust and sweat. Sweat really dries out leather. Every so often (more or less once a month) the skin of the saddle must be nurtured. A balsam is ideal for this; it is rapidly absorbed by the leather, seeking to eliminate any excess amount.

If it is too dirty, you can clean it with a natural sponge and neutral soap, remembering to let it dry completely before applying the nutrient oil. If the saddle can be taken apart, carefully eliminate all dirt from nooks and crannies.

Once a month all the iron parts, buckles, stirrups and other metal parts must be cleaned to prevent rust. If there already is some rust, it’s best to take it to a saddler and have them eliminate it and oil it appropriately.

Both the fleece and the stirrup blanket need to be mothproofed; if there is a lot of humidity, it is common for these insects to appear and brutally attack the wool.

We need to make sure all parts, especially those in contact with the horse, are in perfect condition. Aside from lengthening the life of the saddle, we make sure the animal is comfortable and doesn’t suffer chafing or other damage and discomfort.

If we follow this advice we may guarantee the saddle for a long time, which will save us a lot of money and above all, we won’t need to look for a new saddle once we are pleased with the one we currently have.

If the saddle has real problems that make it impossible to use, it’s advisable to have a professional that can repair a saddle. Using it in bad condition, aside from losing functionality, may give us a backache and lead our horse to refuse to be saddled and ridden.



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