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The Best Saddle Soaps for Boots and Other Leather Accessories

best saddle soap

Many people assume that saddle soaps are meant for horse equipment because of the word “saddle”. Well, these folks are not wrong. This type of soap is used to clean leather saddles and tacks. However, they are also excellent for washing and preventing your leather products from deteriorating.

Choosing the best saddle soap is easier said than done, especially for those who have not cleaned leather materials before. For starters, I recommend checking these three basic components:

  • Usage: Considering the wide variety of leather goods, you will find different types of cleaners. Besides “all-purpose” products, there are formulas for regular maintenance or deep cleaning. Others make specific saddle soaps for tacks, boots, bags, shoes, belts, or furniture. Before you buy, read the label to check the ingredients and manufacturer’s recommendation. More often than not, these products have unique ingredients that only work on certain materials.
  • Ingredients: Most saddle soaps contain beeswax and lanolin. Obtained from wool-bearing animals, lanolin is known for moisturizing and protecting leather. Meanwhile, beeswax comes from honey bees, which creates the soap’s buttery consistency. Glycerin soap can also moisturize and remove dirt when combined with other ingredients like lanolin and neatsfoot oil. As much as possible, avoid lye-based soaps as it absorbs moisture fast, which causes the leather to dry and crack.
  • Color: You may have noticed that your work boots darkened after cleaning them. Blame it on the saddle soap! Certain formulas turn the leather’s brown color into a deeper shade. Rest assured, this is not necessarily a bad thing as some people like it. If you want to retain the color of your leather goods, you can choose white or yellow saddle soaps.

Beyond this surface-level information, I’m sharing six leather soaps that I have used in the past. As a bonus, I have also included a review of my go-to sponge. If you need tips on finding a specific cleaning product for your leather items, then head over to the Buying Guide.

Top 7 Saddle Soap Reviews

1. Fiebing’s‎ Saddle Soap

Let’s start with a brand that sets the gold standard. Fiebing’s saddle soap is favored by ranchers, laborers who wear work boots, and leather aficionados. Initially formulated for saddles, this versatile product is also suitable for shoes, gloves, and other items. Scoring high in ease of use, I only need a small amount to keep the leather clean and supple. But what I love the most about this product is its pleasant scent.

Capable of penetrating deep into the pores, this leather cleaner can revive my dried-out, tired leather products and prevent cracking. Note that the manufacturer recommends applying neatsfoot oil or leather conditioner afterward for the best results. Based on experience, the total process does not take too long. Thanks to this true saddle soap, my leather shoes and accessories are well-preserved, enabling them to last years without damages.

This particular variant is meant for darker shades of leather. Sadly, the soap dries out after a while. Since it is sold in 3.5 oz, 12 oz, and 5 lb, I strongly suggest that you only buy what you need to avoid wastage. On the flip side, those who have lots of leather-based items to clean can get two in a pack. As one of the top-tier saddle soaps, you’ll be surprised that the product’s price is quite reasonable.
What We Like
  • Can make the leather surfaces shine
  • Great for cleaning and maintaining leather
  • Quick and easy application
  • Suitable for dark shades
  • Emits a nice scent
What We Don’t Like
  • Dries out after some time
You can never go wrong with Fiebing’s saddle soap for boots. Besides footwear, they are great for cleaning leather saddles, bags, and belts. At an affordable price, you can breathe a new life into your old items instead of throwing them away!

2. Kiwi 31600000000 Saddle Soap

Across the globe, Kiwi saddle soap rules! Perhaps, it is partly because this brand dominates the footwear industry in every country but it is popular for a good reason. The name is synonymous with quality shoe care products. If you often come home with muddy leather boots like me, then this one’s for you! Through simple steps, I managed to remove all sorts of stains and the most stubborn embedded dirt. All I need is a stiff shoe brush or a clean cloth.

Take note, this is a saddle soap made of quality wax for extra protection. Therefore, you must treat it as a 2-in-1 product. The blend of fine non-toxic ingredients leaves leather soft and supple. As indicated on the packaging, the formula is also safe for other items, like leather saddles, baseball gloves, belts, and gun holsters.

For such a powerful cleaning product, I’m amazed by how gentle it is on leather; it will not weaken the material. Alongside the conditioner, it can preserve leather and prevent brittleness. If there is one thing that I hate, it’s the odor. Whenever I’m cleaning leather with this saddle soap, I would do it in a well-ventilated space. Considering the long-term benefits, this is just a small trade-off!
What We Like
  • Contains quality wax for added protection
  • Cleans leather thoroughly
  • Can be used for all things leather
  • Guarantees effortless application
  • Non-toxic and gentle formula
What We Don’t Like
  • Has a nasty odor
Perfect for those who spend more time outdoors, Kiwi saddle soap for shoes can flush away all the muck and grime. Crafted with quality wax, the product adds a layer of protection to preserve leather. Rest assured, the cleaning process does not require rocket science!

3. Bickmore‎ FBA_BIC10FPR139 Saddle Soap

Echoing the product description, Bickmore saddle soap is indeed not just for saddles. Besides my muddy pair of boots, it is an excellent cleaner for other leather sports equipment that is often exposed to the elements. As such, this western saddle cleaner is popular among cowboys but you don’t need to be one to appreciate its true power. Your purses, satchels, or hats made of animal skin can benefit from it.

Combining lanolin and neatsfoot oil, this glycerin soap can draw out salt stains, grimes, and dirt from my boots and saddle. It conditions the leather, leaving it supple and shiny. Plus, I like that the formula is more on the gentle side since it works on soft and hard leather. What fascinates me the most is that it can also fix scratches. Best of all, the application only requires a damp cloth and the results show up within minutes!

A word of caution: This saddle soap for tack can darken the leather’s color. Make sure to spot test the cleaning agent in a hidden area. If you want to retain the item’s original finish, check out the other saddle cleaning products for light-colored leather that I also included in this review. Stay on the safe side and save this one for dark leather.
What We Like
  • Moisturizes and softens the leather
  • Suitable for horse equipment and fashion items
  • Can smoothen out scratches
  • Can remove dirt, grime, and salt stains
  • Cleans up within minutes
What We Don’t Like
  • Darkens light-colored leather
Manufactured by a brand that has been around for over a century, this Bickmore saddle soap has a sterling track record. It does not only clean leather but also moisturizes it. Furthermore, it can fix scuff marks on your leather tack, footwear, and fashion accessories.

4. Fiebing’s ABCD White Saddle Soap

Crafted for light-colored items, this white Fiebing’s saddle soap cleans leather without darkening it. But this does not mean that the formula is weaker! It is equally capable of removing dirt. In my case, I like to use it to bring my old leather boots back to life. Apart from smoothening out the cracks and scratches, its moisturizing formula effectively preserves leather. That’s because the soap seeps deep into the fabric.

Whether it’s a new or antiquated leather item, I find the cleaning process quick and straightforward. Just like the yellow variant, it makes the leather soft and renders a nice shine. A regular application of this cleaner and leather conditioner can prevent the fabric from hardening. As a result, my shoe, belt, and bag collections last longer. If you own horse equipment, you will be delighted that this product is one of the most suitable saddle soaps for leather tack.

While I rarely judge a leather soap based on its scent, let me also point out that this one is fragrant. I don’t have to endure an awful chemical odor that sometimes makes my head hurt. I just wish that the manufacturer finds a way to keep the soap from drying out before it even expires.
What We Like
  • Preserves leather effectively
  • Quick cleaning process
  • Ideal for new or old leather items
  • Can fix cracks and scratches
  • Removes dirt in the surface and pores
  • Has a fragrant smell
What We Don’t Like
  • The soap tends to dry out
This white variant of Fiebing’s saddle soap solves the discoloration issue that other cleaners usually encounter. Likewise, it can help prevent brittleness and keep the leather supple and lustrous. As a versatile product, it works well with horse equipment, furniture, and fashion items.

5. Farnam 32602 Glycerine Saddle Soap

Farnam leather saddle soap is a great option for those who hate cleaning agents in solid form. Just spray it on a cloth or directly on the leather and start rubbing. It gives me an easier time working on bigger surfaces like furniture. Yet, this liquid glycerin saddle soap offers another advantage: no more dried-out leather cleaner problems. Furthermore, I don’t need to mix it with water. This product is pretty much always ready to use!

In such a simple process, I’m impressed that this Farnam leather saddle soap can clean, moisturize, and make the fabric shine. Surprisingly, the sheen lasts longer compared to the ones I cleaned with other leather soap brands. Even better, it effectively removes the odor that is stuck in my leather shoes. All this can be accomplished with just a thin layer of soap.

To prevent the light-toned leather from looking murky, I wipe off the residue immediately with a dry clean cloth after covering the entire surface. For darker ones, I just leave on to dry. Just be careful not to confuse these two methods or it will discolor the fabric! In terms of both quantity and quality, I think this is the right saddle soap for leather furniture or any large piece.
What We Like
  • Suitable for light and dark tones
  • Great for small and big items
  • Requires only a small amount to clean
  • Can moisturize and polish leather
  • Very easy to apply
  • Eliminates odor from footwear
What We Don’t Like
  • Can darken light-colored leather
From small accessories to big pieces of furniture, there is nothing that Farnam leather saddle soap cannot handle. It lets you clean leather and makes it shine longer. If your leather boots are starting to smell, I promise you that this product will do the trick!

6. Angelus Leather and Saddle Soap

For a small company, Angelus Direct has quite a big fanbase in the art and fashion communities. Renowned for leather dyes and paints, the brand also crafts one of the top-rated saddle soaps for cleaning furniture, fashion accessories, as well as horse and sports equipment. When paired with a high-quality conditioner, it can go beyond removing dirt. Its lubricating capabilities nourish the skin to prevent brittleness.

Bag collectors recommend this saddle soap for Louis Vuitton leather goods, vintage or new. Besides turning cracked, stiff skin into supple and smooth fabric, it makes the surface shine subtly. Indeed, I can count on this product to do a marvelous job for both DIY restoration and maintenance. The results look as if I hired a professional to refurbish my bags and shoes. Furthermore, it helps increase the value of collector’s items.

Here’s my favorite part: this leather soap is more affordable than all its competitors. Still, the brand does not cut corners in terms of quality. My only problem is that it only comes in 3 oz and 8 oz tin jars. While the amount is enough for bags and shoes, it will run out quickly when used on bigger surfaces like furniture upholstery.
What We Like
  • Can wipe out dirt from leather
  • Makes the leather supple and soft
  • Ideal for restoring vintage items
  • Leaves a light sheen on the surface
  • Budget-friendly leather care product
What We Don’t Like
  • Quantity may not be enough for furniture
As an affordable yet excellent saddle soap alternative, this product is highly dependable for cleaning leather. More than that, its nourishing formula can fix cracked and hardened fabric. Truly, it’s a must-have for those who like to collect and restore vintage items.

7. XILAOTOU Tack Sponges

So the saddle soap manufacturer’s instructions say that you need to combine the cleaner with warm water and use a sponge to apply the mixture. Before you grab the one you have in the kitchen, let me just warn you that it’s not good practice. It can transfer dirt from the greasy kitchenware to your boots and vice versa. Having a dedicated sponge for your outdoor leather equipment and footwear will keep things more sanitary.

Moreover, this type of sponge is made especially for cleaning leather equipment, decorative pieces, as well as painting and crafts projects. I think the cost is pretty inexpensive considering that it contains a dozen of sponges. If you need more, you will like that it also comes in a pack of twenty.

The sponge’s coarseness helps me scrub out the dirt and massage the leather without scuffing the surface. Yet, it is also pliable so I can apply the saddle soap on irregular-shaped objects and squeeze it to wring out excess moisture. Plus, it can pick up more soap and water so I don’t have to dip it in the mixture repeatedly.

However, I don’t like its size. While it is small enough to reach the nooks and crannies of my shoes, it can be hard to hold for those who have big hands like myself.
What We Like
  • Ideal for cleaning, painting, and crafts
  • Does not scratch the leather
  • Sold in packs of twelve and twenty
  • Allows you to reach nooks and crannies
  • Can grab more liquids
What We Don’t Like
  • The small size can be hard to hold
Whereas the shoe brush removes superficial dirt, this sponge will take care of the ones stuck in the hard-to-reach parts. Coarse yet soft, it will not damage the leather’s smooth texture, allowing it to shine after a good wash!

What Is Saddle Soap

saddle-soap-for-boots

Saddle soap is made of lanolin and beeswax. It moisturizes and protects leather fabrics. Some variants also contain wax. This cleaning agent is sometimes referred to as “leather soap,” “leather cleaner,” or “leather shoe soap” since many people use saddle soap on shoes.

Those who own items made of leather can use saddle soap for dirt removal, maintenance, and restoration. You can apply it on belts, bags, jackets, boots, furniture upholstery, as well as sports and horse equipment. Note that the formula for each product can vary. Brands tend to craft highly specialized cleaners for full-grain, nubuck, or suede.

Type of Saddle Soap

Regardless of the ingredients, you will find saddle soaps in these three forms:

  • Saddle soap creams
  • Liquid saddle soap
  • Glycerin bar soap

Why Do You Need Saddle Soap

If you own any leather product, buying saddle soap is a given. Even though leather is known for its durability and flexibility, the lack of proper care can weaken or harden the material. In turn, this makes them look unattractive and feel uncomfortable to wear. With saddle soap, you can keep your leather soft, supple, and polished.

Those who work outside would know that damp cloth can sometimes be insufficient when getting rid of grimes and gunk. Using saddle soap, you can effortlessly expunge the dirt that made its way to the pores.

Buying Guide

saddle-soap-for-shoes

Sometimes, reading a review is not enough to make us feel confident about our decision. No one wants to mess up their precious leather products by cleaning them with the wrong saddle soap! So, sit back, relax, and read the tips that I have gathered from forums like Reddit and other reliable sources.

Form

Technically speaking, the saddle soaps stored in tin jars are a mix of soap, cream, and in some cases, wax. Usually, this form is great for leather saddles and shoes as it gives you more control over the amount to apply and target specific areas. For leather tack or couch, the saddle bar soap is much easier to use.

On the other hand, liquid glycerin saddle soap in spray bottles allows you to spread the cleaning agent more evenly on non-flat surfaces. Note that these are not strict rules since you can use both solid and liquid soaps on anything the ingredients are suitable for the material.

Mild vs. Strong Cleaning Agents

Before you buy anything, determine which items you intend to use it with. Even though your work boots and belt are made of full-grain leather, chances are your footwear is dirtier, especially when you work in muddy areas every day. As such, your boots will require a stronger formula. If you need to use a powerful cleaner, check the color fastness in a hidden area before applying it to prevent discoloration.

Type of leather

Not all saddle soaps are suitable for nubuck and suede. Many automobile blogs also discourage the use of saddle soap on leather car seats since it will dry out the fabric. While they are all made of animal skin, each underwent different processes. As a rule of thumb, do not apply the leather cleaning agent on just about any leather item you have.

Of course, some brands make saddle soaps for nubuck, suede, and car seats. The easiest way to know if the cleaner is safe for these materials is to check if keywords like “safe for nubuck and suede” or “suitable for car seat” are indicated in the product description.

Quantity

Unlike underwear, you don’t need to clean leather products every single day unless they are muddy. The small tin jar is just the right amount of soap you need for items like boots, belts, gloves, and purses. For bigger items such as sofas or car seats, it will be easier to use a block of saddle soap or its liquid form that usually comes in spray bottles.

Product compatibility

Leather is a porous material. Naturally, it can trap dirt, dust, and moisture in its pores. This is unavoidable since we use our boots, saddles, and what-have-you every day. The thing is, even the saddle soaps can only do so much. Hence, they need to be paired with leather conditioners.

Now, here’s the tricky part: these two products must be compatible with each other to make the animal skin soft, supple, and polished. If you’re unsure, you can buy the same brand of leather soap and conditioner or read the saddle leather conditioner reviews.

Scent

The scent may not be our main criteria. After all, the smell does not affect the soap’s ability to wash off dirt, though it gives us the impression of cleanliness. However, it can be annoying to work with a saddle soap that gives off a strong chemical odor.

Fibeing’s saddle soap, Farnam leather cleaner, and Gold Label saddle soap are the best options for those who want their shoes and equipment smelling fresh and clean. Folks who are sensitive to strong scents can opt for brands that make fragrance-free soaps.

Care and Maintenance

Many of us pour water into the lid of the saddle soap’s tin can when we clean our leather products. Once you are done, remove the remaining water and wipe the lid dry before you close the container. Make sure that the container is tightly shut to keep the soap from drying out. For bar soaps, store them in a plastic container once they dry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is saddle soap bad for leather?

The answer lies in the ingredients and whether they are appropriate for the type of leather that you have. Experts recommend combining pH-balanced saddle soap with leather conditioners. Most leather cleaners and conditioners are sold separately but some manufacturers formulate 2-in-1 solutions.

Beware of saddle soaps with high alkaline content; they can cause damage and discoloration. Also, you need to make sure that you don’t overdo your cleaning. Apart from that, the leather item must have proper storage. Too much moisture or heat draws oils from the skin, making the leather fabric stiff or crack.

What is the difference between white and yellow saddle soap?

In terms of quality, there is no difference between white and yellow saddle soaps. Both are capable of cleaning and moisturizing leather goods. However, white is more appropriate for lighter leather fabrics while yellow is more commonly used for slightly darker shades.

Can saddle soap be used on suede?

As previously mentioned in the reviews and buying guide, manufacturers make saddle soaps for specific types of leather. My advice is to check the label to see if the leather cleaner is appropriate for suede. Do not assume that the product can be used for suede even if the label says “for all types of leather” or “all-purpose cleaner”.

Do you rinse off saddle soap?

When you apply saddle soap on a leather fabric, you will notice that it will thin out or disappear. After covering the entire surface, make sure to wipe off the residue with a dry clean cloth.

How to use saddle soap?

Each saddle soap comes with a specific instruction so be sure to read it before applying. Some products require mixing the soap with warm water, while others can be applied directly onto the fabric. Let me also reiterate that you need to do a spot test for colorfastness if you are using a strong soap formula. This way, you will not run the risk of damaging the leather’s color.

When cleaning leather boots, remove as much mud as you can and take out all the pebbles stuck in the soles if there are any. Regardless of the item, you can start by using a sponge or a clean cloth, and apply the saddle soap or mixture onto the leather parts. Rub it in a circular motion and repeat the process until you have covered the entire surface. Lastly, wipe off the excess soap with a fresh clean rag.

Be sure to apply leather conditioner. Otherwise, the soap alone may deplete the natural oils in the fabric.

Conclusion

Cleaning leather involves art and science. To preserve our shoes, garments, accessories, and equipment, we need to learn the proper technique and the contents of the cleaning products that we put on them. Granted, not all of us are chemists but it does not exempt us from the responsibility that comes with owning and collecting leather products.

Part of the challenge in finding the best saddle soap is familiarizing ourselves with the product’s formula and how it works on different types of leather. Once you get a good understanding of how the ingredients work, you will be able to choose the right product to clean, maintain, or revive a vintage piece.

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