Using saddle soap to clean the leather boots is not a new concept. People have been using it for cleaning leather goods like saddles, tucks and boots since the 18th century. But if you ask me if using a saddle soap on your boots for cleaning is good or not, I must say, it depends on how do you use the saddle soap on your boots.
A majority of people has an impression that it is a bad practice. Yes, it definitely is and kills the charm and life of your boots every time you use a saddle soap on them.
But, on the other hand, if used right, it can retain health and develop youthfulness of the leather for a longer period of time.
I explain both of the aspects here. Read on to know them and decide yourself if you want to place it in your boot cleaning kit or not.
Is Saddle Soap Good For The Leather Boots Or Not?
It is a controversial topic, mostly, because of lack of data. Let me introduce you what happens when a leather and saddle soap comes into contact.
Water has a grade of 7 at PH scale and that is considered as a neutral point. Any substance with PH level higher than 7 is considered of an Alkaline nature. On the other hand, any substance with a PH-Level lower than 7 is considered of an Acidic nature.
Leather has a grade of 5 that means its an acidic substance. On the other hand, as a saddle soap is a mixture of many ingredients it doesn’t have a fixed PH Level but it remains at anywhere between 9-10 and that makes it an alkaline substance.
So what does that mean?
When an acidic and an alkaline substance comes into contact, a reaction occurs. Both tries to neutralize each other and it’s a strong reaction. As the intensity of saddle soap is higher so it overcomes the neutralization process.
As a result, it end up with harming the surface of the boots, damaging the leather and weakening the stitches. Overall, every time you use a saddle soap on your boots, you are killing them.
Additionally, the saddle soap is made of some mild soap ingredients in it, some cleaning oils like lanolin, and has some added wax to provide an extra layer of protection. All these things are rich in fatty acids that is used to provide some extra shine to the leather.
This extra shine is so apparent that it hides the damages that a saddle soap make to the shoes. As a result, you are unable to find that the boots are getting deteriorated. But under the hood, the leather is loosing its integrity and soon there will be the need for a new pair.
So That Means Saddle Soap Is Bad For The Leather Boots?
Umm. Can’t say like that. Although I mentioned a few reasons that how using saddle soap can affect the life of your boots and you should put yourself off of using it, but, at the same time, I can’t refuse that it enhance the instant look, shine and charm of the shoes.
There is always a right and a wrong way to do a job and using saddle soap is not an exception.
You can attain the shiny boots while avoiding the harsh impact of the saddle soap, only if you do it the right way. Let me show you how:
Of course, it contains some soap and dries the leather out but think it the other way.
Basically, our skin is also a leather. Don’t we ever use any soap on our face or body? Yes, we do in order to deep clean the skin. But, that’s not all. We further nurtures it with some nourishing creams or lotions. Just do the same for your shoes.
Don’t use the saddle soap as a lone cleaner to your shoes but as a part of cleaning kit. After using it, just apply some nourishing cream or polish to the boot’s leather. Like a living human skin, boot’s leather can’t replenish its moistures itself so you have to use some nourishing cream.
If you do it this way, there won’t be any adverse impact on the lather’s look or life and you will get a well-cleaned, extra shiny boots.
MODERN SADDLE SOAPS – AN EASY ALTERNATIVE
The myth that saddle soaps kill the life of the leather took place because the earlier products, available during the 18th-19th century were only meant for cleaning the saddles.A Saddle is made up of very hard leather. So the soap was manufactured keeping softening the Saddle in mind. That’s why, the earlier products were very harsh. Once you use them on a less-harder leather like boot’s, it will produce disastrous results.Nowadays, many reputed brands have launched Saddle Soap Products that are carefully formulated keeping soft leathers like regular leather boots, cowboy boots, jackets, car seats etc. in the centre.
The Alkaline nature of modern products is not much aggressive. On top of that, additional nourishing elements are already added within the product so as if the soap does any harm to the leather, the same is replenished, immediately, by the other ingredient of the product itself.
To further ease it down, I am here with some selected best Saddle Soap Products that you can just pick and apply without worrying much about the possible damage to your shoe.
The concern has been taken care of by the manufacturer itself:
Saddle Soap: All Natural Leather Cleaner by Otter Wax: 5oz Tin
That’s my favourite. A perfect blend of all natural ingredients- beeswax, castile soap and other essential oils for leather cleaning and nourishing.
The soap is far away from any harsh ingredients like chemicals, toxics, silicone and petroleum. That minimizes the chances chances of any damage to the leather in terms of colour-fading.
It cleans the leather shoes gently, makes it water-resistant, restores the moisture and resuscitates the strength.
You might experience that the product darkens the colour of the leather but that is temporary and the pair retains it’s original colour soon. The product is tough on dirt, easy on leather and friendly with your pocket.
There is no reason to hesitate using Saddle Soap made by Otter Wax.
Fiebing’s Yellow Saddle Soap, 12 Oz
Made in USA, following the high manufacturing standards. You can’t find the cleaning quality of this product in any of it’s competitive products.
It is formulated with an emphasise to provide the leather with suppleness and strength. It prevents the leather from any brittleness or fragility and removes even the finest dust mites.
The soap lubricates the fibres and eliminates any crispness. Fiebing’s Yellow Saddle Soap, 12 Oz. is formulated as a yellow-coloured paste. If you usually get stubborn stains on your boots then don’t look past this saddle soap.
You have two buying options: Either buy one pack or subscribe for monthly purchase. The later offers good discounts.
Kiwi Saddle Soap, 3-1/8 Oz
Do you think Kiwi needs any endorsement in terms of quality. If it’s Kiwi, it must be good.
Obviously, a pretty quality saddle soap product with added quality wax. The wax not only makes your shoes water resistant but stain-resistant as well. Additionally, it prevents salt or dust finding the way to deep inside the leather pores.
Even if, you use the Kiwi Saddle Soap on some old boots, they will regain their shine and charm as some essential oils are used as the ingredients that nourishes the leather.
The product resolves a big problem. Although every saddle soap cleans dirt and germs but some left the soap ingredients into the leather pores that weakens it over the time.
Kiwi Soap is soft and flushes away on its own. That gives it an edge over other products.
How And How Often To Use Saddle Soap On Boots
1. Remove any excessive dirt or mud from the leather surface using a polish brush.
2. Rub a moist cloth on the soap surface to develop some lather.
3. Apply the soap, using the soft cloth, on the whole surface.
4. In case there is some sort of uneven pattern design on the boots, the cloth won’t reach to the deep. Instead, use a soft brush to apply the soap.
5. Let it dry overnight.
6. Next morning, just clean the surface with a moist cloth.
7. Buff it further to develop some shine and lustre.
8. Use the saddle soap on your boots once or twice in a month.
The conclusion is pretty much obvious. People of earlier centuries have had a bad experience with using saddle soap on their boot’s leather. Reason being? There were not such products that were meant for shoe leathers. The same impression continued among the community and still remains there.Most of the people today, who advise against using a saddle soap, have never used it themselves and are just forwarding what they were got told.Honestly, I am not an Anti-Saddle-Soap guy and advise you not to be one. Just use it but make sure choosing a reputed brand’s product is crucial.Just use it without any fear and your shoes will be OK. Nothing to scare about.
12 thoughts on “All About Saddle Soap On Your Boots (How, What, Why)”
Your writing style is very unique and I like it a lot.
Does this apply to leather saddles,tack,team collards made way back 30s?
Hi Paul, yes, the same applies to all type of leather products.
Be using saddle soap for 5years on my red wing boots they have a old vintage look but I use mink oil 48 hrs later so by using the oil it works well as long as u use the 2 together u have no worries
I have a build up of dubbin on my Doc Martens. How should I remove?
Dubbin can be removed in a few different ways; with a knife or with chemicals or just by applying heat onto the boot. To be on the safe side, i would recommend you to apply the heating method. For that you will need;
1. A hair dryer or a heat gun ( preferably with higher mode)
2. A brush
3. A piece of cloth
Step 1 : Get your brush, start scrubbing it making sure the surface of your boot is totally clean.
Step 2 : Get your heat gun, put it on high mode and blow onto the boot.
Step 3: Once you see the dubbin in liquid form, take your cloth and wipe it all off.
Repeat the process till you totally get rid of dubbin from your boots.
Hope this will help.
Thank you! just to clarify;
“Get your brush, start scrubbing it making sure the surface of your boot is totally clean” – with water? soap? saddle soap? water + vinegar?
Hey Henry, just brush your boots and make sure they are free of dust and any dirt. The idea here is to make your boots clean before you start with heating. If needed, you can use water, but ONLY water!! Don’t use saddle soap or vinegar. Please let me know if this method works for you.
Aaron – BootMoodFoot
hairdryer + wiping worked really well thank you. The excess stuff now removed, I can see why people may use a blunt knife as this would remove quicker; but I guess there is much more risk of scratching.
The leather is lightening up, looking good – I am going to have another go this weekend.
In the future how would you recommend I care for DM boots – they are not the sort with shiny coating but “Made with naturally distressed Crazy Horse leather”. Wax? Dubbin?
Thank you for all your help
Happy to hear that hairdryer + wiping worked well for you.
In the future, clean and care your boots thoroughly every three months. First clean then condition your DM boots ( would recommend you DR Martins Wonder Balsam product ) and polish them. Use only wax-based polishes.
Hope this helps
Aaron – BootMoodFoot
Thanks for the detailed video.
I purchased Corcoran Jump boots and used the same saddle soap you have in the video and the leather came out blotchy. Must have rubbed to hard. Any advice on how to make it all appear even again?