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Dawn on Leather??

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  • Dawn on Leather??

    At the Maryland Horse Expo, a representative from one of the Australian leather conditioning companies suggested I use Dawn detergent to clean really dirty tack before conditioning it. Any thoughts or experiences?

  • #2
    i would think there would be better inexpensive products that are meant for the purpose that would do just as good a job without risking your tack... like Murphy's Oil or glycerine soap...

    Save the Dawn for scrubbing buckets!


    • #3
      um.... don't use Dawn

      if your tack is REALLY scuzzy, grab some pure castile soap (dr bronners makes one without fragrance, and the label is humorous to read too). Scrub with castile, let it air dry for a day, then warm a conditioner and work it into the rough side of the leather.
      chaque pas est fait ensemble


      • #4
        I think Dawn is really gentle. But it's designed to break down and float off oil.

        I don't think that's good for leather. But nylon or other manmade materials, perhaps.


        • #5
          If it is absolutely disgustingly filthy with layers of crud on it, yes use the Dawn. That or ammonia which is more drying. Otherwise you will never get the crud off.

          Then condition/oil and properly clean it after use. Glycerin is not a cleaning soap but a conditioning coating to seal in the moisture, keeping it from drying out and adding a protective coat between sweat and leather. Castile soap while great with not too disgustingly filthy tack won't cut layers of crud.

          With either Dawn or ammonia you will get back down to the leather, it will be clean and you will be putting the fat back in the leather with oil or a conditioner instead of smearing more stuff on top of layers of gunk.

          I won't use Murphy's on tack, it adds to the layers of crud. I clean wood with it or remove oily stains from clothes but it doesn't go on my tack.


          • #6
            I agree with Seal Harbour. I worked in a tack store and cleaning tack was one of the services we offered. We used Dawn on the really disgusting stuff (saddles CAKED in mud, saddles with wasp nests in them) and then heavily reconditioned them. They left looking beautiful and softer than they had been in years. These were western saddles and the average english rider does not tend to filthify a saddle and then just leave it for the winter so I have never had to use it on an english saddle.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Seal Harbor View Post
              I won't use Murphy's on tack, it adds to the layers of crud. I clean wood with it or remove oily stains from clothes but it doesn't go on my tack.
              Boy, no kidding. I've seen more leather that is so gunky and sticky from Murphy's that it's almost impossible to strip. I don't get why people continue to use it.

              A product that is recommended for cleaning floors and wood cabinets it not something I would be using on leather.


              • #8
                Be careful w/ Dawn on the cheaper tack that has that coating, it breaks the coating down but is not strong enough to get it off.
                The newer Harman Krafts have that film.
                It was a nice try by a student.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by trafalgar View Post
                  At the Maryland Horse Expo, a representative from one of the Australian leather conditioning companies suggested I use Dawn detergent to clean really dirty tack before conditioning it. Any thoughts or experiences?
                  Too caustic and completely unnecessary. Take a stiff nail cleaning brush, running water, and scrub the dirt out, if any soap use glycerine soap, less caustic, but its physically getting the soap off the leather you want to do, and no reason why scrubbing with something, including your nails, won't get it off. You want to avoid things which will weaken the stitching.

                  then oil the bejeezus out of it with pure neetsfoot oil, not a conditioner (conditioners break down the fibers of the leather, another thing which shortens the life of your leather. Oil in the sunshine, oil, and you're good to go.

                  Then, clean your leather more often so as not to build up gunk. If its just a muddy ride, wash it off with running water or a bucke of water and a brush. As long as you dry the leather and oil it it will be fine. No need for detergents which would help the break down of fibers etc.
                  Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                  • #10
                    Squirt or two of Ivory or Palmolive, handful of baking soda in bucket of water to clean

                    Harness Honey to condition


                    • #11
                      Actually, it's the oil that breaks down the stitching. Ivory or Palmolive for cleaning grease or dirt that won't come off with water (including cleaning off Murphy's) then proper conditioning and a final coat of glycerin to seal.
                      Shop online at


                      • #12
                        I always clean my tack with dish soap. I soak in a bucket of water and dish soap to get of the grime, scrub it thoroughly, let it dry, oil it as much as it will take, and then put glycerine on it when that is all soaked in. It works just fine.

                        I don't have anything expensive and have had some tack, or pieces of it, for 20 plus years. When I clean it up really well, my $20 bridle looks about as good as a $400 one.


                        • #13
                          Murphy's will get hoof oil out of clothes, and any other greasy stuff you have managed to get on yourself.

                          I found out the hard way. Wore a brand new polo to the barn, opened a new can of Feibings hoof oil, which was a bit of a war, I won but the can had the last laugh when it splashed all over the front of my brand new shirt.

                          One of the kids, who was an artist and worked in oils frequently, told me to rub Murphy's into the stain and then wash it. I thought she was insane, but it worked!! Shirt came out of the wash looking brand new, no hoof oil all over the front. Since then I have used it for all grease stains on clothing and it gets old stains out as well that I've managed to run through the laundry and not remembered to treat them. It is better than an other laundry pretreatment I have ever used for greasy stains.

                          The thing about Murphy's and tack is that people just smear it on. In the laundry or washing wood with it you use a lot more water and rinse it off, I don't use that much water on my tack.