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Tack Cleaning

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  • Tack Cleaning

    I have seen and used very many different methods, from pony club to slightly more... unconventional ones So, what do you do? What are your favorite tips and or tricks!
    Veni, Vidi, Vici. I Came, I Saw, I Conquered.

  • #2
    I love TLC saddle soap! It has natural ingredients and it smells good it doesn't leave my tack sticky or dry plus it's on the cheaper side of the spectrum.
    I also have a toothbrush that I only use for bits. I get some toothpaste and get to work, making the bit shiny a I *think* it makes my horse more supple in the dressage ring.

    I'd love to hear some tricks to getting boots "mirror" shiny
    Last edited by Eventing Strong; Feb. 21, 2011, 12:29 AM. Reason: added TLC link


    • #3
      For filthy dirty tack my first step is to use a brush and scrub with a mixture of warm water and ammonia- and I rinse with water I am sure some people would think this is terrible.

      For merely dirty tack I scrub with Kirks castile soap and enough water to make a lather.

      Condition with lederbasalm (preferably let it soak in in the sun)

      Finish off with glycerin soap.

      To maintain, I made homemade tack wipes from some old flannel and a mixture of liquid glycerin soap and water. Run it over my tack and it keeps it looking nice. I just wash the old wipes and use again. So far so good. I am hoping that this will avoid having "filthy dirty tack."

      For Christmas I got a brand new bridle and reins and I am only going to it for showing so it will always look fabulous, or so I hope!


      • #4
        I swear by Leather CPR. Makes my tack super soft and pliable, even the cheap leathergoods.

        I read somewhere to treat leather like skin. So you can clean it with soap when it's real dirty, but use conditioners most the time, not oil. Oil only sparingly. If it gets wet, let it air dry and condition. My saddle got soaked multiple times this summer from riding in downpours and going in the pond, I just let it air dry in the barn and conditioned it. It never once cracked, and I was pretty shocked because it's the "double leather" M Toulouse.
        - paintmare

        Horse Eden Eventing - A Virtual Eventing Escape


        • #5
          I swear by Leather CPR too! And I get mine from Walmart where it's cheaper. I also like the saddle cream/butter stuff too. I have some really soft leather, and I agree... oiling too much is a bad thing.

          I also try to wipe them down with the leather wipes (Also the generic walmart brand) after each use (not my buffalo/printed leather though) even though it's probably not ideal. But I figure clean is better than nothing

          But the leather CPR is my fave!


          • #6
            Let me put it this way: you can have my Leather Therapy when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. I can turn cheapo leather buttery soft with the stuff, it doesn't leave icky residue, and it really, truly does inhibit mold. Out of everyone's different leather care regimes, my tack is the only stuff in the damp Oregon tack room that hasn't gotten any mold over the winter (and not just what I use every day - even my retiree's bridle that I haven't touched since, well, we moved here five months ago). It's not cheap, but it's worth every penny.
            Proud member of the EDRF


            • #7
              I rub/wipe my tack down with a damp washcloth, rinsing rag often if needed. The nap of a washcloth gets the sweat/dirt right out. Then I apply Mad Cow lightly or as needed. Smartpak has the Mad Cow product now, which makes me very happy, as I always used to have to go to GMHA tack shop while at events to get it! If I clean regularly, I never need anything else. The Mad Cow conditions the leather, and is helpful when wiping it down the next day. Nice shiny clean tack.

              If I had some leather in poor condition, I would use the Leather Therapy cleaner, and then the conditioner.

              I have some neatsfoot oil, for neglected tack, or dried out flash nosebands.

              For my brass clincher I wipe with the quick type cleaner (forgot the name, only have been using it every day for the past 25 years.....) its the wool in the blue can with cleaner on it. I quickly wipe across the clincher each time I clean and then wipe with a clean, dry towel. I have the paste cleaner for neglected brass, halters etc.


              • #8
                Another leather therapy fan, although I like other similar products - in general I clean the way I learned in pony club. Clean, condition, finish - although I don't always use castile first, I like the leather therapy cleaner.

                I HATED leather CPR. It made my tack so slippery I couldn't sit in the saddle or hold my reins. Does that not happen to you?

                My friends rave about effax and they have a cleaner that will strip old tack really well, but then you have to condition a lot.

                Lederbalsam is great when you're going to have to ride in the rain - slather it on and your tack will not get quite as drenched. It will leave residue though, (and form jockeys) so you end up having to clean more.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Hilary View Post
                  I HATED leather CPR. It made my tack so slippery I couldn't sit in the saddle or hold my reins. Does that not happen to you?
                  Not at all, but I also use my hands a lot when using it. I work the conditioner into the leather, especially bridles. I don't just use a sponge and put it on and then wipe it off. I actually found it made my stuff very soft, pliable, and yet grippy.
                  - paintmare

                  Horse Eden Eventing - A Virtual Eventing Escape


                  • #10
                    Huh, I rubbed it in well - I didn't just swipe it on/off - and there was only 1 step- an all in one cleaner-conditioner - is there a separate conditioner?

                    It felt fabuous when I finished - soft, pliable, and it didn't appear that I had used too much but 18-24 hours later it my tack was SLICK. I had to scrub with castile to get it off.


                    • #11
                      I have a homemade glycerine conditioner recipe I use every so often to keep everything looking awesome, especially in the summer. It doesn't work as well in the winter because I think it needs to be a bit warmer for the leather to soak it in properly. Its a mix of hand soap, lexol conditioner, and half and half cream. In the summer I just wipe the tack with a damp rag, then apply the conditioner and done

                      In the (insert profanity here) winter, I usually stick to glycerine saddle soap between rides to clean. Partially because its cheap and other part because I find that I don't need the conditioning in the winter as much. If something does need conditioning I'll bring it home, let it warm up, and clean as above.

                      If its a REALLY bad strap leather I'll oil it lightly with either lexol or bailey's harness oil before conditioning. I never oil my saddles. its way too easy to over do it.

                      This is a great thread!

                      Crickets Mom


                      • #12
                        I like Kirk's Castile Soap for really dirty stuff. For "daily" cleaning (ha!), I use Tattersall's. For conditioning, I like Beval Akene conditioner.

                        For quick wipe-downs, I use either Lexol wipes or baby wipes; bits I try to remember to dunk in water right away (if I don't remember to do that, then I use bit wipes).

                        I use oil minimally (maybe a couple times a year?... or if something needs to be darkened), but when I do, it's usually Hydrophane or just plain ol' neatsfoot.

                        Someday I'd like to try Ko-Cho-Line.
                        If we have to nail on talent, it's not talent.
                        Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous


                        • #13
                          For really dirty stuff, I still use good ole saddle soap. Nothing cleans quite like it! I LOVE Tanners Leather Oil, which is hard to find now. I used to also use the Tanners leather cleaner, but I finally ran out of my stash a couple years ago and I'm sure they quit making that for some reason. Always got a perfect turnout using that stuff! Now, for light cleanings, or the final step in a thorough cleaning, I use the Effax Lederbalsm (sp?) It's in a similar container to the Leather CPR, similar stuff too. Leaves my stuff supple and a little grippy.

                          To get bits and stirrups super clean, throw em in the dishwasher.

                          Toothpaste works great to get elastic clean again. (luckily most new stuff is using dark elastic!!!)

                          And don't forget finishing up with polishing the dees and other metal pieces with Brasso!!!


                          • #14
                            For quick cleanings, like when I'm not going to a show, I use Leather CPR. Love, love, love that stuff for getting tack clean quickly.

                            For really thorough cleaning, like when I'm cleaning tack for a show, or its just really disgusting, I use regular glycerine soap, followed by Horseman's One Step (I know you're supposed to use that by itself, hence the 'One Step' but I just like it as a conditioner), and then use Lexol to give it some shine.

                            I soak bits and stirrups (and my tall boot laces, if I'm feeling adventurous and actually want to take on the challenge of relaceing them later...) in a hot bucket of water while I'm cleaning everything else and then scrub them with a toothbrush and polish the stirrups with regular silver polish from Walmart or something. Both my saddles are wintecs so I use the wintec cleaner for the saddles. I know people swear by just using water for the wintecs but I have used both and I definitely think the cleaner cleans better than just water. I then buff it with a stiff face brush when it dries.

                            I use Tanner's Leather Oil as my oil. I also don't oil tack excessively but every time I clean tack (don't worry, it's not that often ) I pick out a couple pieces of tack that I think needs some oiling, like a flash noseband or a set of reins. I also oil any new tack before I use it, so if I have something new I oil it at this time. I currently have a whole bridle, two sets of reins, a figure-8 noseband, and a new leather halter that I got for Christmas that I haven't gotten around to oiling yet Told ya, I donn't clean tack that often

                            For girth elastics I use Castile Soap. I wet the bar, scrub the elastics with it, then dunk the elastics in a clean bucket of water and rinse the soap out. Gets them squeaky clean.

                            Lastly, my dressage girth is neoprene so I just wipe it down with a damp cloth and some mild hand soap.

                            Loving this thread!


                            • Original Poster


                              Yay! This is exactly what I was hoping for! so many great ideas that have me itching to go and clean tack (a rather unusual feeling for me BTW!!) I especially like the ideas to clean the girth elastics and I will have to go try out the Leather CPR and Leather Therapy? Hi Ho off to Dover I go....
                              Veni, Vidi, Vici. I Came, I Saw, I Conquered.


                              • #16
                                I think the trick is to at least wipe off all tack after *every* ride. During the week I ride in the wee hours of the morning and have to rush to work (1 hr drive from the barn), so sometimes I just put everything up dirty, but I regret it every time. I use the Lexol cleaner and Effax Lederbalsam, it keeps everything in great shape.
                                "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht


                                • #17
                                  Ah, one of my favorite subjects. I've gone through a few programs, mostly based on glycerine and occasional neatsfoot, but finally have reached perfection. I clean with Kirks castile soap and hot water - with lots of lather. Then wipe with a clean damp sponge, and wipe with a thin coat of Hydrophane Saddlers Leather Conditioner. Not the stuff in the can! Hated that.

                                  I liked Mad Cow for my post-Kirks step, til the price doubled. For glycerine, I love Hydrophane's bar. Belvoir is good too. The glycerine leaves it a bit sticky though (hydrophane was the least sticky I found). The conditioner is perfect - just enough conditioning for every day, just the right shine, and no stickiness. I use leather balsam on the drop of my figure 8 regularly (maybe 3-4 days a week) and occasionally on the rest.

                                  For boots, just get Kiwi Ultra Shine - it's a bottle with a little sponge at the top - and will make them blinding in about 30 seconds flat! (Ok, ok, my dehners get meltonian polish, which works really well too but is a pain).


                                  • #18
                                    I only use Oakwood on my stuff. I used to buy really expensive cleaners like the Passier bridle one and the childeric soap but I find oakwood works the best and there is no water needed!

                                    And to condition I switch between the CWD and the passier ones.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Eventer007 View Post
                                      I have seen and used very many different methods, from pony club to slightly more... unconventional ones So, what do you do? What are your favorite tips and or tricks!
                                      I throw my bridle, up to the noseband, into the water trough.
                                      then I wipe it down with Horseman's one step.

                                      sometimes I spit on my stirrup irons.

                                      my butt polishes my saddle.
                                      Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                                      • #20
                                        Tack cleaning is at the bottom of my list. When I can't stand it any more or I have an event, I take the bridles apart and put the pieces in a bucket of hot water. Bits go into a separate bucket with hot water and dish soap. I scrub the leather pieces with a nail brush. Then rub them hard with a clean towel. Then I rub in one of 2 things. Either Kocholine OR Leather Honey. Leather Honey is my new addiction. I love it.
                                        If I actually clean my stuff on a regular basis, I use Belvoir Glycerine bar and a clean sponge.

                                        Metals get shined with Wright's.


                                        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.