Now that I am home from teaching lessons at a summer camp, I am beginning to "deep clean" all of my tack. Since my days are so incredibly busy at camp, I was unable to do much (if any) leather cleaning. Now my bridles have old sweat caked on the reins, nosebands, headstalls, etc. They are a mess. I have tried cleaning with Leather New, which works okay. It just takes forever and a LOT of rubbing to clean all the nastiness off.
What kind of leather cleaner do you guys use to loosen up and clean the worst dirt and grime?
Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!!
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good"
Official Marestare Addict!
I love Castille soap too. Very thorough yet gentle. Then some hydrophane to really pamper your leather.
ETA - try finding a soft scrub brush. Lay your strap goods flat on something (I love my mesh patio table for it because it isn't sitting in water and I can hose the mess off after I'm done) and scrub with that. Just be sure it's soft enough to not scratch your leather.
Really nasty tack like you describe, I use Castile soap (cheap!) or Lexol cleaner in the orange bottle or Leather Therapy cleaner. I still like Lexol or 100% pure neatsfoot oil for a condtioner, though lately I've also been using the Pessoa leather oil I got as a gift, and my tack hasn't fallen apart!
I just bought some Antares cleaner and conditioner yesterday and it's awesome! I used to use Belvoir on my saddle and Leather New on my bridle but after seeing the difference the Antares stuff made on my tack, I'll never go back! If it's just a bunch of old schooling stuff, I'd stay to stick with the Leather New or Lexol because the Antares stuff isn't cheap.
I live in Chantilly, VA but I ride in Anytown, USA
Eww, girl, you gotta wipe that stuff down every ride. So much easier to take those five minutes.
But, for the nasty caked on oil and dirt you've amassed, go for the ammonia. That's right. And use a terry cloth wash cloth. Throw out your sponges. Those things are ridiculous, hold too much water and always end up shooting across the room with me. A terry cloth wash cloth stays in your hand, wraps around the entire piece of leather easily and has gently abrasive properties to get the crap off your tack.
So, put some ammonia in a dish, add a little water (I'm only saying that so the purists don't freak out - me, I'd use it straight), and go at it. Ammonia will take the slubs and nubs of dirt and oil off chop-chop. Then, follow up with my favorite, Effax Leder Combi. The next day, if things seem a little dry from the ammonia, use oil. Then, keep up with it by using the Combi every time. Oil only when things seem a little dry.
Take that five minutes. No more than two rides w/o cleaning. Unless you have a really oily horse (which I have ridden), then, you gotta do it each time. Nothing worse than having to spend all that extra time for one really big, really tough cleaning.
"If you have the time, spend it. If you have a hand, lend it. If you have the money, give it. If you have a heart, share it." by me
Really as a part of the camp you should try to designate 2 girls each day to clean all the tack,tack cleaning team, work with them, then ask them to work with the next team the next day and so on, check in with them to make sure not too much has been lost in the translation.
Your tack will be clean and the girls will learn how to take care of the equipment, same goes for the brushes, halters,boots, polos etc.
What Ghazzu said. A capful of Mr. Clean to a bucket of warm (I like hot) water. It's an old groom's trick I learned in Pony Club in '70's from an "A" grad clinician. Funny story--she told us she had to get the old groom in question drunk b/f he'd divulge his "secret" --the Mr. Clean.
I also never use sponges, always old washcloths/towels.
"I never met a man I didn't like who liked horses." Will Rogers
I will chime in here. A while back, I got a tip to use Listerine on what I call "homestead" mold - you know, the kind you see that moved in on 20++ year old tack that sat in the trunk?? Wow did it do a job and a half!!
A few days ago, I took a totally grossed out cribbing strap (the kind that surrounds the ears) that looked like it had NEVER been cleaned. There was SOOO much old sweat and dirt caked on? I thought it was part of the leather!!
I took the strap home, put it in a bucket, and covered it in a half/half solution of boiled water and Listerine and soaked it for a couple of hours. The gew was falling off the strap. Got it totally cleaned up, and conditioned the heck out of it. Good to go, and clean as a whistle!!
Generally my favorite leather cleaner is Effax Leder Combi but for tack as grungy as yours I would give it a good scrubbing with Kirk's Castile soap. Ammonia and water will do a goodt job of cleaning all that gunk off but I find the leather never looks nice afterwards, too dry looking, even after conditioning. But if its just inexpensive schooling tack use the ammonia. And instead of waiting this long, in the future wipe down with a damp sponge or cloth after each ride.
There are a gazillion products out there, and I do like the Effex products but absolutely the best I have found is a leather soap made by a woman in Memphis that is anti fungal anti mold (it really is, people in FL LOVE it), that gets the leather really clean and leaves it really soft. An $11 bar will last several years. She hand makes each batch and cuts and wraps each bar. If you google "Soapie Ponies" or Glycerin Gardens it should come up. I got a sample in a competitors packet years ago and that is how I found out about it.