Well, I just bought a Bruno Delgrange saddle, which came with glycerine saddle soap, a sponge, and oil. I love my saddle and I wouldn't want to damage it by using the cleaner incorrectly. All it says is to apply the soap with a soft, humid sponge. So do I rinse off the soap after I use it? I've heard different things. If yes, then how can I do it without damaging the saddle?
I think tack cleaning is sort of a personal thing. Everyone has a different method. I would not rinse the glycerin off with water; if it didn't soak in, I would take a dry towel and buff off the white foam.
A veddy, veddy British, Pony Clubber as a child, former eventer, now S Dressage judge, instructed me that one should clean one's tack with plain warm water (using a strand of braided horse hair to scrape off the "riders" (dirt), then work the saddle soap in as a conditioner. Different strokes. ;o)
A damp sponge, rub on the bar of glycerine soap, put on your saddle in a circular motion. It should make a bit of a stiff lather (not a watery lather). The lather should pick up the dirt up to the surface and you wipe it off with a cloth.
Afterwards, condition. any kind of soap will be a bit drying on the saddle so always condition afterwards.
Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. Bernard M. Baruch
You do not rinse off glycerine. One of the benefits of glyerine is that it sort of seals the leather. Glycerine also will draw water out of the air. What I do with glycerine is I wipe my saddle down after every use with a fairly damp sponge. (this gets yesterdays glycerine and todays dirt off the saddle) Then I take a slightly damp sponge and rub the glyerine bar with it and rub it on the saddle.
I will just sprinkle a little water on the glycerine soap itself, and not get the sponge wet. I also use glycerine soap as more of a conditioner, and sometimes as a bit of a "stickifier" for my saddle. For cleaning grunge, I have better luck with castile soap.
Failure is always an option*
*As long as you figure out what you f'ed up and fix it! -Me
You can use glycerine soap either as soap or a light "finishing" kind of conditioner for leather. It quickly adds that soft glow to the outside of leather.
What makes it a detergent that you want to rinse off, or that top coat depends on how much water you add to it.
I was taught to clean tack like the veddy, veddy British person mentioned above.
You use warm water to clean (and sometimes ammonia if you are really in trouble with grease jockeys). You get the saddle damp with water and wipe that off with a towel, taking off the dirt.
Oiling is different from putting a top-coat kind of stuff like glycerine on a saddle. Oiling (I like pure neatsfoot) is to keep the inside of the leather soft.
If you are not oiling your saddle and just want to finish off the cleaned saddle, you can choose any number of saddle "soaps". You put these on with a dry-damp sponge. Yes, you can leave it on and it adds some softness, shine and a bit of waterproofing to the leather.
remove the wax with light ammonia if necessary
oil lightly (several light coats rather than one heavy)
clean when needed with castile soap and warm water. (I don't do this step anymore as a chemist I find the insoluble hydroxides difficult to remove)
glycerine is used with a sponge that has been rung out in a towel so it is a dry as it can be and then used to coat the leather.
personally I find a clean horse keeps my tack clean. I wipe it off occasionally and use whatever I have bought recently to keep it conditioned (currently I am fond of the Passier Lederbalsam. I also use horseman's one step (wiping it off) or leather cpr.
there are many paths up the mountain....
A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton
Folks, the white waxy stuff rarely is seen on new tack anymore. It used to be added so as to protect the leather from moisture during shipping, like, literally on a ship on an ocean for a few weeks. Tack may still move around this way, but I don't see lots of fine white wax on it that you can scrap off with a fingernail. In any case, I have never bothered to take it off new tack, like eclipse says. I might wipe each bit of leather with a towel, then use warm water and then pure neatsfoot oil.
Another former Pony Clubber here. I agree with those who say that the saddle soap is a conditioner, not a cleaner. Clean the tack first, oil lightly if necessary, let that soak in, and then apply the saddle soap with a very-slightly-damp sponge. If you see soap suds, the sponge is too wet. The saddle soap should leave a sweet-smelling, slightly tacky finish on the leather. I wouldn't put any conditioner on top of the saddle soap.
I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne
The soap that came with your new Delgrange is made with other things in it that act as a conditioner so you apply and do not rise it off. Excessive water is bad for leather. Feel free to give me a call of you have any further questions on cleaning or taking care of your new saddle.
Certainly LTLFLDF is the right source for your new DelGrange.
A couple points to keep in mind for New and also French saddles.
1. If you oil correctly and do lots of care during your tack's infancy, it can take lots of abuse later. Those effects last.
2. Very fine-grained calf needs less neatsfoot that the thicker leather on other parts of your saddle. In general, if you use this oil, you do it in thin coats applied with your fingers. Stop when the leather takes a bit of time to get matte. You can over-oil and it's easy to do that on the fine calf. But don't neglect the underside (the side of the skin that faced the cow) when you oil.
If you become expert at this, you learn that different parts of your saddle can be more or less thirsty for oil and you can apply it accordingly. It makes me nuts when I see a shiny (glycerined) top of a saddle and dry leather underneath the flaps. That's not the kind of care that will really make the leather last.... which was the point of tack care in the first place.