What Is Saddle Soap?
April 16, 2023
Jane Smith, Managing Director
When looked after well, leather can last a lifetime but if you don’t invest a bit of time and effort into upkeep and care, your leather goods will start to dry out, crack and grow discoloured… so knowing how best to look after the material will certainly stand you in good stead.
Where leather maintenance is concerned, one of the most tried and tested methods of clean and care is saddle soap.
As the name suggests, it has long been used over the years to keep leather saddles in good condition, but it has also been applied to a vast range of different products, everything from jackets, shoes and boots to belts, trousers, upholstery… if it’s made of leather, you can bet that saddle soap has been used!
The soap itself is made up of ingredients like beeswax and lanolin, which are thought to help keep the leather in fine fettle. However, if you are tempted to give saddle soap a try, you might actually find that it does more harm than good.
As well as lanolin and beeswax, saddle soap also contains lye - or sodium hydroxide. Lye is highly soluble in water and is highly caustic, which means it’s very corrosive and very capable of burning its way through different materials. Perhaps not the best choice for a leather cleaner!
Saddle soap is also a strong alkaline, with a pH of ten or above, so if you treat your leather regularly with this kind of soap, you’ll find that the pH of the leather also starts to change. The result? Harder, darker and weaker leather.
Given that there are lots of other more effective and kinder leather repair products out there these days, it might be time to put the saddle soap back in the soap dish where it belongs and reach for something else.