The best leather cleaners for your tack


  • There are about as many tack cleaning products out there as there are horses, you just sometimes need to weed through them to find something you like. But most tack cleaning things can be broken down into a few categories:


    • Soaps
    • Creams, aka potions and lotions if you are so inclined.
    • Oils


tack cleaning spray and lederbalsam and saddle soap with sponge

A cream, a spray, a soap!



  • Soaps (a very general term I might add) come in lots of varieties – liquid, solid, somewhere in between. Generally speaking, many are glycerine-based. You can find them in spray bottles, tubs, trays. Easy to use. A damp sponge is all you need.


Some porous things, like leather, can get clogged up with certain glycerin based soaps over time. You may want to switch to a castile soap.


  • Avoid using glycerin-based soaps on your own leather boots if you polish them, the shoe polish gets wacky gross and chunky and looks horrible if you use glycerin-based soap. Boots are better cleaned with castile soap.


  • Creams are really more like a goop, the lederbalsam is a good example of this. Usually made of a beeswax base, lederbalsams are deep conditioning, creating shine and a tiny amount of stick so your pants have some extra grip. Some creams are in squeezable containers, which can certainly help keep things tidy at the barn.

conditioning a dressage saddle with lederbalsam on a sponge

A lederbalsam ready for smearing and conditioning


  • Oils are just that – oily. The most common oil is neatsfoot – which in the good ol’ days was made from cow shin and foot parts. Today you will usually find neatsfoot compounds, which many people believe is not as good as the original. Both types will darken leather.



Choice of container:


  • Spray bottles – Wonderful for the busy horse owner. Easy to spray directly on your saddle, or onto a rag or sponge.


  • Tubs – small and easy to store, but any semi-solid goop like a lederbalsam can melt a bit in the summer. More solid soaps are often packaged this way.


  • Hanging bottles – specifically designed to dangle from your bridle cleaning hook, these containers contain a cream cleanser/conditioner that you squeeze out, toothpaste-like.


  • Wipes – many formulations of leather care products also come in wipes, which is great for shows or quick cleanings. Keep them sealed or they may dry out.

tack cleaning wipes

Wipes are super for shows!


  • Tubes – some cleansers for leather come in tubes. Often it’s hard to get the last bits out, so you can cut open the folded end to get every last drop.


  • Foams and sprays – there seems to be no end to the possible delivery systems for tack cleaning. These handy containers allow for precise application on the tack or a cloth.

saddle soap and conditioning lederbalsam


The choices are fairly overwhelming – so if you don’t have a clue what to use on your tack – the first thing to do is chase down the manufacturer of your tack and see what they suggest. Many manufacturers also make their own tack cleaners. Hopefully, this eliminates some of the guesswork!

go shopping button for horse products


For my favorite tack cleaning lotions and potions, head to these links. My Amazon Affiliate program will take care of you, at no extra cost! I might qualify for a commission, too, which I totally appreciate.

Effax Leather Balsam 500 ml

Fiebing’s 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil, 32 oz. – Natural Leather Preservative

Hydrophane Leather Darken Oil, 500 ml ( 17 fl.Oz ) – This one WILL darken your tack.

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap – Baby Unscented – 8 Ounce

For sponges:

Pack of 12 Tack Sponges – these are the smaller types

Honeycomb Form Tack Sponge – this is the larger variety

Thank you!