Saddle Soap for Leather Boots | How to Clean And Condition With Saddle Soap

Posted In : Boots Care
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There’s nothing quite like a nice, new pair of leather boots. They’re durable, comfortable, and look great with almost any outfit. However, to keep them looking their best, they need to be cleaned and conditioned on a regular basis.

One of the best ways to do this is with saddle soap. Saddle soap is a special kind of soap made specifically for cleaning and conditioning leather. In this article, we’ll guide you how to use saddle soap for leather boots. We’ll also show you some tips and tricks for keeping them in good condition.

So read on!

how to use saddle soap on leather boots

Saddle soap is a bar of soap, or in liquid spray form or in paste form that is specially formulated for cleaning and conditioning leather. Originally made by the Camellia Oil Company in Chattanooga, Tennessee, old-fashioned saddle soaps are still available today. However, there are also many modern brands that make their own version of saddle soap, including Lexol, Fiebing’s, Kiwi and Meltonian, etc.

Saddle soap can be strong soap, but it doesn’t lather much. Instead, it usually comes as a solid block of soap/liquid spray/paste. The bar form of soap is usually crumbled or grated into a bowl of water to form a paste.

What are the Types of Saddle Soaps?

Saddle soaps come in various types and forms for the purpose of usage requirements. The main types are:

  • Saddle Soap Bars: These are made to be rubbed directly into a wet cloth and worked into the leather.
  • Liquid Saddle Soap Solution: This is typically used in the form of spray and in conjunction with a rag and is applied to the leather, then wiped off after a short period of time. This can be reapplied as necessary until the desired results are achieved.
  • Saddle Soap Pastes: Pastes are made by grinding a solid bar of soap into a powder. To use, you mix the powder with a little bit of water until it forms a paste. The advantage to using a paste is that it can be applied evenly without lathering. The disadvantage is that pastes are harder to wash off when you’re finished cleaning.
  • Saddle Soap Creams: Creams are much like hand soap. They are in a liquid form and lather easily in water. Because they can be applied in a foamy layer, creams tend to work better on really dirty leather. However, the suds can also be harder to remove.
Pro-tip: Whichever type you choose, it's important that you do not use water-free or petroleum-based cleaners on your leather boots. These types of cleaners are not good for the leather and can lead to cracking, warping, or even tearing.

What are Saddle Soaps Made of?

Usually, the main saddle soap ingredients are:

  • Sodium tallowate (a fatty acid derived from beef or mutton fat)
  • Sodium cocoate (a fatty acid derived from coconut oil)
  • Glycerin
Some saddle soaps also contain lanolin, an emollient derived from sheep wool, and other conditioning agents. We researched the top saddle soap products in the market and discovered as below:

1. Flebings Liquid Glycerine Saddle Soap Ingredients:

  • Glycerine
  • Potassium salt of Oleic acid
  • Modified fatty alkanolamide
  • Water

2. Fiebing’s Saddle Soap Paste Ingredients:

  • Sodium tallowate
  • Gum rosin
  • Water 
  • Water (Carrier)
  • Sodium Tallowate (Cleaning Agent)
  • PEG-100 (Moisturizer)
  • Stearic Acid (Emulsifier)
  • Carnauba Wax (Polish, Waterproofer)
  • Sodium Carbonate (pH Adjuster)
  • Glycerin (Moisturizer)
  • Lanolin (Moisturizer)
  • Benzisothiazolinone (Preservative)

Benefits of Using Saddle Soap for Leather Boots

Saddle soap has some distinct advantages when it comes to cleaning and conditioning leather boots. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  1. Cleans and Conditions Leather: Saddle soap is a great way to clean and condition your leather boots at the same time. It is a very effective cleaner because it contains both tallowate and cocoate. These ingredients are good at breaking down dirt, oil, and grease, so the soap can clean the leather effectively while moisturizing the leather and restoring its natural suppleness.
  2. Prevents Cracking and Warping: One of the biggest dangers to leather boots is drying out. If the leather dries out, it can crack and warp, leading to expensive repairs. Saddle soap helps to prevent this from happening by moisturizing the leather and keeping it supple.
  3. Saddle soap also contains glycerin, which helps to condition the leather and keep it soft and flexible.
  4. Prevents formation of mold and mildew.
  5. Maintains and restores leather’s natural coloration.
  6. Since most saddle soaps come in either bars, sprays or pastes, they are very easy to use and store.

Downsides of Using Saddle Soap on Leather Boots

  1. Like any strong soap, saddle soap can have some adverse affects when it’s used to clean leather boots. Here are just a few of the disadvantages:
  2. Too much saddle soap can break down the fibers in the leather, which results in a weakening of the boots and eventual tearing or splitting.
  3. If you do not rinse away all traces of saddle soap from your boots after washing, the soap will dry out and you could end up with white streaks in your boots.
  4. Leaves behind an oily residue that needs to be buffed off, which can lead to accelerated wear of the soles.
  5. The biggest danger is when saddle soap is used on materials other than leather . Saddle soaps for vinyl and rubber surfaces should NEVER be used on leather as the alkaline in the saddle soap will dry out and damage the leather.

What to Look for in a Quality Saddle Soap?

Like applying mink oil on boots, saddle soaps are very useful, but you need to be careful and evaluative while buying the best suitable one for your leather boots. There are several things you should look for when evaluating a saddle soap:

  1. A quality saddle soap will have both cocoate and tallowate as its primary ingredients, as these break down dirt, grease, and oil, helping to clean the leather effectively.
  2. Good products are pH balanced around 7, close to the ideal skin pH of 5.5, which makes them unlikely to damage your leather.
  3. Other good things to look for include moisturizing ingredients like lanolin, glycerin, and various oils, as well as beeswax or carnauba wax, which help to seal in the moisturizers and restore suppleness to the leather.
  4. Preservatives like benzothiazolinone can help to keep the saddle soap from spoiling and becoming ineffective over time.
  5. Look for a saddle soap that comes in a paste or cream form rather than a liquid, as this will help it stay on your leather boots and do its job.
  6. A saddle soap that is good for suede and nubuck will also be gentle enough to use on your smooth leather, as it will have a pH close to 7.

How to Use Saddle Soap on Leather Boots at Home?

Required Supplies

  • Saddle Soap (Bar/Paste/Spray/Cream)
  • Water
  • Soft microfiber cloth or dry paper towel
  • A Tac Sponge or normal sponge
  • Bucket or Sink
  • Dryer (Optional)

General Steps to Apply Saddle Soap on Leather Boots

step by step how to use saddle soap on leather boots

A. Instructions to Apply Saddle Soap Liquid

  • Step-0: Prepare the supplies, take your dry microfiber cloth or paper towel and gently wipe away any dust, dirt, oil grime, etc. from the boots.
  • Step-1: Shake the bottle well and wet the entire surface of the leather with a sponge.
  • Step-2: Apply a small amount of saddle soap to the cloth and work in a circular motion to create suds.
  • Step-3: Gently scrub the entire surface of the boots, taking care not to damage or tear the leather.
  • Step-4: Rinse the boots with clean water, taking care to remove all traces of saddle soap.
  • Step-5: Allow the boots to air dry completely before wearing.

B. Instructions to Apply Saddle Soap Paste

  • Step-1: Apply Step-0 mentioned above, then gently apply a small amount of saddle soap on the leather with hand or microfiber cloth and use your sponge to work it in a circular motion.
  • Step-2: Wipe of applied saddle soaps as much as possible with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Step-3: Re-apply the same process above to all parts of the boot, if required.
  • Step-4: When you can no longer see traces of dirt or grime, wipe away all excess with a clean cloth. If required, rinse the boots with clean water, taking care to remove all traces of saddle soap.
  • Step-5: Repeat as needed until your boots are completely clean and moisturized.
  • Step-6: Allow the boots to air dry completely overnight.
  • Step-7: Condition the boots next day before wearing.

C. Instructions to Apply Saddle Soap Bar

  • Step-1: Apply Step-0 mentioned above, then wet the bar and create a lather on a cloth or sponge.
  • Step-2: Apply to the leather and scrub in a circular motion.
  • Step-3: Rinse with clean water and buff with a dry cloth.
  • Step-4: Re-apply the same process until your boots are completely cleaned.
  • Step-5: Allow the boots to air dry completely before wearing.
  • Step-6: Condition the boots next day before wearing.

The Best Saddle Soaps for Leather Boots

After carefully evaluating the top rated saddle soap products in the market we recommend few of the best ones to use on your leather boots. Take a look at the list below and find out more about them:

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

What Leather Maintenance Products Should You Use after Washing Your Boot with Saddle Soap?

After you have used a strong soap like saddle soap, it is recommended that you use some type of leather care products to ensure better result and endured results. This helps protect the leather from drying out and cracking.

There are many different types of conditioners on the market, so it is important to find one that is specific for leather care. We recommend conditioners as below:

What to Avoid when Cleaning Your Leather Boots with Saddle Soap?

The last thing you want is to damage your nice boots, so what you should avoid?

  1. Do not use anything that contains bleach or any formaldehyde as this is a sure fire way to damage the leather.
  2. Do not use any oil-based cleaners or moisturizers as they will soften and darken your boots over time.
  3. Do not scrub too hard on the boot, as this can cause damage.
  4. Wait until all of the soap has been removed from the leather before trying to apply any conditioners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is saddle soap good for cowboy boots?

Saddle soap is a great product to use on cowboy boots, as it helps clean and condition the leather.

Can I use saddle soap on suede boots?

No, you should not use saddle soap on suede boots, as it will damage the fabric. You should use a special suede cleaner or brush to clean the fabric.

Can I use saddle soap on a leather jacket?

Absolutely not, you should never use a strong soap like saddle soap on any garment made from real leather. This will ruin the garment and it will be nearly impossible to clean afterwards.

How often can I use saddle soap?

You should only use saddle soap when your boots are visibly dirty and need a deep clean. Do not use it more than once a month, as this can damage the leather over time.

Is saddle soap bad for leather boots?

No, saddle soap is not bad for leather boots. In fact, it is a great way to clean and condition the leather. Just make sure to rinse off all of the soap and apply a conditioner afterwards.

Does saddle soap waterproof boots?

No, saddle soap will not waterproof your boots. There are other effective ways you can follow to make your boots waterproof.

Does saddle soap soften leather boots?

No, saddle soap does not soften leather boots. However, it is recommended that you use a conditioner after cleaning your boots with saddle soap to prevent the leather from drying out.

Can I use saddle soap on my dress shoes?

No, you should never use saddle soap on any type of dress shoes. It is best to use a mild cleaner and conditioner specifically designed for the material and stitching of your dress shoes.

Does saddle soap condition leather?

Yes, saddle soap will condition your leather boots and help protect them from the elements. We recommend that you use a separate conditioner after cleaning with saddle soap to keep the leather looking and feeling its best.

I have used only water to clean my boots before, will this treatment still work?

The glycerin in soap helps it stick to the leather. Since there is no other ingredient that can help it stick during the cleaning process then saddle soap, you will need water along with the saddle soap.

What should I do if I have a crack in my leather?

If the leather is cracked, then saddle soap might not be the best option to clean it. You should try a conditioner specifically made for cracked leather boots instead.

Can saddle soap be used on other types of boots other than leather?

The answer would be no again. Saddle soap can only be used to clean your leather boots, and nothing else. Leather is the only material that can absorb and hold onto this product without ruining the material completely.

Have some time?

Let us see a very useful video how to use saddle soap on leather boots properly.

Courtesy : Bickmore Leather Care

Parting Words

Saddle soap is an important tool for cleaning leather boots, but it’s important to use it correctly to avoid damage. Be sure to read the instructions on the bottle or box before use, and always test a small area first to make sure the saddle soap is compatible with your boots.

When used correctly, saddle soap can help clean and condition your leather boots, restoring them to their original condition. With regular use, saddle soap can help keep your boots looking great, protect them against damage, and lengthen their lifespan.

Once you know how to clean leather boots with saddle soap, it’s easy to keep them looking great no matter what the season is!

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Lance 'LeatherMan' Hackney

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