Hello COTHers. Show season is right around the corner, and I am beginning to get my equipment in good, clean order. I need some instructions: For daily/weekly saddle or leather tack cleaning, what do you use, and what do you find that works to clean and preserve leather? Also, does your daily/weekly leather cleaning differ from you "before a show/event" cleaning? I have never been very diligent about tack cleaning but I want to change that. Thank you!
I like the KISS method. No fancy cleaners, conditioners, etc. I wipe down after every ride with a barely damp cloth swiped across a bar of castile soap, every few weeks or after a dry, dusty summer ride, I undo buckles to wipe down. When I feel the tack needs it, I give it a coat of Lederbalsm.
I use Lexol for true cleaning (which I don't do that often -- monthly or weekly), and usually just need to wipe the dust and sweat off with a damp rag, then follow with a light coat of Lederbalsam -- like the previous poster. I do clean buckles and bits after each ride, though, and also check stitching. As far as the saddles go, I follow my saddler's instructions: daily damp rag, weekly Lederbalsam (except billets), monthly Lexol.
LeatherNew cause it's easy to spray onto a sponge and use, or if it's already set up in the tack cleaning area with glycerin soap.
For shows I clean it with those, then use Lederbalsam to make it look and feel super awesome.
If your tack is dirty, clean it with water and castile soap, or use a weak ammonia-water solution. I wipe my bridle with the ammonia-water solution after every ride--it keeps those disgusting "jockeys" from forming. Then I finish with a quick application of Leather New.
Before shows, I take everything apart, give a thorough cleaning, and oil lightly if anything seems dry. Then I finish with Mad Cow. I love the smell and it leaves a nice finish on the tack. Sometimes I finish with a barely-damp sponge and a bar of glycerine saddle soap. Just make sure you don't see any foam--if you do, your sponge is too wet.
I also use Simichrome polish on the metal buckles and studs. Really makes a difference in your turn-out when it matters.
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
I use the Lexol cleaning wipes on my tack after every ride, plus peppermint-flavoured bit wipes. Sometimes, If I think it's getting grungy, I'll pull out the Lexol cleaner and conditioner and do a better job cleaning it.
Before shows (typically 14-16 from February-September) I take it all apart, clean and condition it with the Lexol cleaner and conditioner, get my fingernails and a toothbrush right into the stiching, polish all of the buckles and metal bits, and put my bit through the dishwasher to get it sparkling clean
Castille soap regularly, olive oil or hydrophane when needed. If tack is well cared for it doesn't need a lot of oil once it's broken in correctly. A good tack cleaning is a good tack cleaning, before a show or just after a ride.