I have a nice Jaguar close contact saddle that was left in a garage for a year. It is now covered in mold (I think. It has a white residue over some areas. maybe it is sweat or something) and has gotten very tough. I live in both New Orleans and Atlanta but cannot find any saddle repair and restoration shops. Does anyone know of someone that can restore the saddle or perhaps a method that I could try?? To kill any mold, I diluted some white vinegar and rubbed it down, but the white residue didn't go away and I don't even know where to begin with conditioning the leather. Any suggestions would be great!!
I think ammonia works well for getting rid of mold? Hopefully someone else will chime in there though.
As far as conditioning, I would oil the saddle, followed buy some leatherbalm. I like to rub it in with my hands to warm it up so it absorbs better. It will take several coats. Put a thin layer on and wait for it to absorb. Then do it again. Keep putting layers on until it stops absorbing and then leave that layer on overnight. Wipe off any excess in the morning.
Lol, I am a leather geek, so here it goes.
Without actually seeing and touching the saddle (both are very helpful in diagnosing problems) this is what I would recommend:
1. Clean first with Kirk's Coco Castile Soap. (Dampen sponge, swipe across bar, rub in circular motions on leather, rinse sponge, swipe across area you've just put soap on to "rinse" leather)
2. Dilute 3-4 tablespoons of ammonia (I like Parson's lemon scented, not quite so stinky) in a quart of water in a spray bottle.
3. Spritz on saddle.
4. Wait about 45 seconds to a minute.
5. Swipe off crud with your sponge, dunking the sponge to rinse it as necessary.
6. Swipe saddle again with water to remove ammonia. (Repeat steps 1-6 if necessary.)
7. Allow saddle to dry. It should be squeaky clean when you're done. (Use toothpicks to get into crevices, and a toothbrush to remove really thick gunk.)
8. If it is really thirsty, get a clean rag (one you have not used on the saddle before) and put on a few coats of Leather New liquid conditioner (basically oil)
9. Now, with another clean rag, put on Leather Therapy's conditioner, which should kill the mold and prevent it from growing back.
10. (You're not going to like this) Throw away all the sponges and rags you've just used. They have mold spores on them, and it would be a shame to re-infect your saddle with mold when you've just spent all this time cleaning it. Really. Just do it. Chuck them. You'll thank yourself later. And it would be a good idea to swish some bleach around the bucket you just used (rinsing well afterwards of course) to be sure you aren't harboring any mold spores there, either.
If you want to condition more later, I recommend Akene. It's the best saddle grease I've found (And I've used Passier, Effax, Devocoux, and Antares).
And, of course, you should wipe down your tack (theoretically after each use but especially after heavy use) regularly and store it in a dry, well-ventilated location. This will help keep the "forest" at bay.
ETA: Just looked at your location. Once you are done with this (should you decide to go the above route) you should probably keep clear of any "One-step" leather care products (especially Horseman's One-Step) as these are more suited to dry locations. Because you live in humid places, you will probably need to clean more often than you need to condition, so it would be prudent to have separate products for each purpose.
Last edited by bluebuckets; Jan. 5, 2013 at 12:46 AM.
Reason: More info
The Great White North, where we get taxed out the wazoo
The Leather Therapy products, both the cleaner and conditioner are really good at stripping away dirt and then the conditioner brings the leather back as well as containing a mould inhibiting ingredient. More expensive than your every day tack cleaning products and neatsfoot oil but worth it for a good saddle IMO.