Cleaning saddle pads – keep things fresh and bright!


Saddle pads are one of those pieces of equipment that can be fun! They can express who you are, and for shows, they can carry your barn logo. All shapes and sizes, and colors, also. I like to have everyday schooling pads, and then some nicer show pads, maybe with a logo and definitely super clean and bright for the show ring. As it turns out, the show pads eventually become daily pads as I feel the urge to shop or they are a bit dingy.


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washing machine

Most pads do just fine in the washer.


For everyday saddle pads:



  • Removing some sweat, dirt, and hair will lengthen the life of your washer and help get your daily schooling pads cleaner.


  • You could also pre-rinse in the wash rack with a power horse if there’s some mud and muck. This also saves your washer in the long term.


  • If you really need to pre-treat your saddle pads, you could mix up some water and oxy-type stain remover and let things soak overnight. Any tub or bucket will do as long as it becomes the saddle pad soaking bucket and nothing else.


saddle pad with boot polish stain

For the love of all things clean – don’t polish the inside of your riding boots. And use only your grossest disposable saddle pads if your tack is freshly oiled.


Be mindful of your detergent for cleaning saddle pads.


  • Many detergents are harsh and can cause skin irritations for your horse and lead to fiber damage. A more natural detergent or “free” type may work better.



What’s the best machine for washing saddle pads?


  • A front-load machine is preferable to a top load for getting your saddle pads really rinsed and clean.


  • You may even consider doing a longer rinse or additional rinse if you have a top load with those options. If I find that my saddle pads are still dingy after washing, I will soak in some detergent-y water and wash again before drying.


  • You may find the dryer is damaging to your pads, in which case you may want to dry on a line or fence. I like to dry in the shade, as the sun’s rays can be harsh if you have a colored saddle pad.


contoured saddle pad

Not new, but pretty darn clean!


For show pads, the name of the game is white and white and white. Usually.


  • After a show, tuck your horse’s show pads away separately from other laundry. No use in putting muddy boots or polo wraps in the same bag as a nice pad. You may want to pre-treat stains at the show with a laundry stick, and wash when you get home.


  • A quick treatment with a stain stick, detergent, and one of those oxygen booster cleaner products will keep you show pads blingy. You could also add some baking soda to the wash for some oomph.


  • For stinky laundry, add white vinegar to the wash cycle.


  • For cleaning western saddle pads, I find using a sheet or baby pad underneath them greatly reduces the dirt and sweat and hair. So you end up washing the liner and not the super thick saddle pad. This makes life a bit easier.


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