The best leather cleaner for tack


There are about as many tack-cleaning products out there as there are horses, but what’s the best leather cleaner for tack?  Time to experiment. 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!


  • You can buy all sorts of tack-cleaning products, or in some cases, make them yourself.  Making your own tack cleaner is easy, and you can customize the fragrance if you like.  You will probably need glycerin soap depending on the recipe, so you are basically just adding some oomph to saddle soap.


  • Saddle 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, and trays. All are easy to use. A damp sponge is all you need.


Glycerin soap vs. castile soap


  • 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 leather boots if you polish them, the shoe polish gets wacky gross and chunky and looks horrible if you use glycerin-based soap. Your riding boots are better cleaned with castile soap.


  • Creams are really more like a goop, the lederbalsam is a good example of this. Usually made with 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.


Fiebing’s Liquid Glycerine Saddle Soap for Horse 16 fl oz


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



Loofah mitts for deep cleaning barn things 

Microfiber cloths