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Soaps and Oils for Cleaning and Conditioning Old Leather

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  • Soaps and Oils for Cleaning and Conditioning Old Leather

    Is it really all right to use vegetable oil or olive oil to condition leather? And dish soap for cleaning it beforehand?

    I have an antique horse brass with black leather that is very thick and very stiff (has not been cleaned or oiled in at least 40 years). A neighbor said I could use vegetable oil to condition it after cleaning it with saddle soap; when I Googled this, I found that some people use dishwashing liquid to clean their tack. I also just saw the hunter-jumper thread about cleaning tack with castile soap.

    Since I have neither saddle soap nor neatsfoot oil now, and am on a very tight budget, I am wondering if I really can use dishwashing soap and olive or vegetable oil to clean and condition the leather.

    What would you use if you had no saddle soap or neatsfoot oil/Lederbalsam/etc.?
    Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
    People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
    "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique

  • #2
    I would not use dishsoap, especially if it's super dry already.

    A bar of Kirk's castile soap is about $1.00 and yes, you can use olive oil afterwards


    • #3
      Love olive oil it is fantastic!! I've also heard dish soap can be used.


      • #4
        Haven't there been threads about using Murphy's Oil soap? Not tried it myself for tack but I use it for household cleaning and you might have some on hand.?

        Maybe check out the review thread on bensmom's soap in the eventing forum. Perhaps you could request a sample and review how well it worked on your antique?
        If thou hast a sorrow, tell it not to the arrow, tell it to thy saddlebow, and ride on, singing. -- King Alfred the Great


        • #5
          I use Murphy's Oil Soap on all my tack for a deep cleaning. Day to day cleaning I just use a damp rag.

          I condition/waterproof all my tack with either mink oil or Australian Leather Keep. I prefer the latter, but the mink oil is easier to find.


          • #6
            Originally posted by candysgirl View Post
            I use Murphy's Oil Soap on all my tack for a deep cleaning. Day to day cleaning I just use a damp rag.

            I condition/waterproof all my tack with either mink oil or Australian Leather Keep. I prefer the latter, but the mink oil is easier to find.
            COTHer Bensmom has just started a saddle soap business through etsy. There is a huge thread on the eventer forum with reviews of her product. They all seem to be glowing. Karen O'Connor's groom used it for years, so it's been to WEG and the Olympics.
            "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
            Thread killer Extraordinaire


            • #7
              Yes to olive oil, NO to dishwashing soap. I believe you can use ammonia to clean tack (search on COTH) so if you happen to have that around the house...

              Otherwise a bar of glycerin or castile soap is cheap...and they work. You can even put a nice top coat of glycerin on it to seal it.

              What do you use for your regular tack?
              come what may

              Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


              • Original Poster

                For tack I have used saddle soap followed by Lederbalsam or neatsfoot oil.

                Was seriously shocked to learn the local tack shop does not carry neatsfoot oil.
                Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
                People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
                "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique


                • #9
                  As others have mentioned, a bar of Castile is super cheap and far less drying than dish soap. It will last you a good long while, too.

                  For old, dry tack, I like to clean well, oil it a couple times with oil (olive is great...I wonder if you could use the cheaper oils like canola or soy?) and then give it a heavy coating of lederbalsam, working it by hand.


                  • Original Poster

                    I guess olive oil doesn't turn rancid and start to smell? Seeing as how so many people use it, I guess it doesn't ....
                    Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
                    People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
                    "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique


                    • #11
                      Lexol Conditioner. Best stuff ever.