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Saddle Soap and Its dangers for leather cleaning

Can I Use saddle soap?

Introduction: We often receive inquiries about using saddle soap on various leather items such as jackets, car interiors, furniture, and handbags. The straightforward answer is a resounding NO, and here's why.


Picture of a model wearing our Pilot Leather Jacket for Men

Saddle Soap Composition and Caution: Saddle soap is manufactured in diverse ways, with a critical factor being its Lye content. Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide or caustic soda, is a highly soluble compound with caustic properties. Given its corrosive nature, using saddle soap on your beautiful leather jackets, furniture, car interior, or handbags is not advisable. These items demand specialized products designed for effective leather care.

Effects of Saddle Soap on Leather: Sodium hydroxide, a key component of saddle soap, is an alkali with a pH of 10 or above. Regular use of saddle soap can alter the leather's pH, resulting in hardening, darkening, and structural weakening. The thick lather is challenging to rinse thoroughly, accumulating in crevices and folds, leading to issues such as a crusty white residue that is difficult to remove from fine leather.

Dangers of pH Changes: The pH change caused by saddle soap can cause leather to deteriorate rapidly. Accumulated soap in grain structure areas fosters the growth of mold, gathers gritty dirt, and further exacerbates pH-related issues. This gradual degradation is compounded by the difficulty in rinsing the soap completely from the leather's intricate details.

Historical Perspective: Before today's commercial saddle soaps, homemade versions often included various ingredients like beeswax, soap shavings, water, and the corrosive substance lye. Such concoctions, including neatsfoot oil and mink oil, were used in handmade saddle soaps. These historical components highlight the unsuitability of saddle soap for modern leather care.

Different Leather, Different Process: Leather furniture undergoes a distinct chromium chemistry process, unlike the veg-tanned process used for saddle leathers. Saddle leathers, designed for outdoor durability, are tough and thick. Saddle soap's caustic nature can lead to drying and deterioration, making it unsuitable for the softer, supple texture of furniture leathers.

Professional Advice: For accurate and professional advice on leather care, please contact us. We're here to provide further details, assistance, and guidance tailored to your specific needs. Email us directly for personalized recommendations.