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Cleaning the dirty flaps of a used saddle

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    Cleaning the dirty flaps of a used saddle

    You know how some people let dirt build up on the flaps of a saddle until you can't even see the stitching any more? This makes me crazy! Do you know a gentle enough way to get it off without damaging the leather or the stitching? I've considered sandblasting, but thought the folks here could point me in a better direction!

    We have at times scraped that very gently with a pocket knife.
    Once getting close to the leather, scrub with an old small towel and very warm water and regular leather cleaning glycerine soap.
    Then condition with whatever you use.

    Has worked fine on both sides of the leather, the smooth and the rougher sides.


      Try a little splash of ammonia in your wash water and it will gently strip the residue. Rinse and condition as normal.


        You can take a twist of mane hair to use as a scrubber to get those lumps of grease (called jockeys) off. Old fashioned horse keeping tip. I generally find warm water, saddle soap and sponge can clean them off ok - suds up. Then wipe w clean wet sponge and towel dry the leather.


          A soft toothbrush also works wonders in those creases with stitching! You can really get the cleaner in there so it can work.
          I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.


            Don't be afraid of a little mild soap (Blue Dawn)and water in a bucket, a sponge and a toothbrush. Most of that buildup is excess conditioning product that doesn't get absorbed because its applied over dirt time and time again. Adding a bit of ammonia to the water helps dissolve the gunk. Keep toweling as you brush to remove the gunk.

            Rinse with clean water, allow to dry AWAY from any direct heat source, OUT of the sun and NOT in your car. After its dry, apply light saddle oil with a small paintbrush for best results and no glop buildup, Blue Ribbon is a good one, theres others. After every ride, sponge off with plain water, lightly condition if/as needed. Be careful of thick, fancy conditioners containing waxes and other stuff that will create more gunk. Saddle soap contains glycerin that creates a shield to keep moisture in but also keeps it out and traps dirt, again, the leather is supposed to be clean BEFORE you apply it. If, you just sponge it on without really cleaning the leather ( as most of us tend to do too often) you make more gunk.

            Saddle leather is pretty durable, after all a cow walked around outside in it for years. Common sense and elbow grease will have it last for many years.

            Some cheap, poor quality leather is not properly tanned and dyed so might run red/ orange dye. It is normal for well made leather to experience color variations as it wears and ages, considered a good sign of long service, badge of honor, if you will. In some ways, your leather is still a living thing, treat it accordingly.

            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              Maybe try a microfiber cloth instead of a sponge.
              "You gave your life to become the person you are right now. Was it worth it?" Richard Bach


                I’d second the microfibre cloth, plus the old type of saddle soap. We have a tv programme called “The Repair Shop” over here & they have a Master Saddler who always cleans with cloth & soap. She gets great results, & I’ve gone back to this way of cleaning tack, it definitely works!


                  I like those little plastic scrubbers that are designed for teflon pans for the really grimy stuff. Ammonia is good for stripping crud away - but I have only ever used it on sort of tougher leather. Not sure if I would be brave enough on the really soft stuff. Castile soap is my go to for cleaning.