How to Clean Moldy Leather Bridles and Saddles
Posted on March 31 2018
Gah! It is that time of year when we walk into the tack room and pull out tack that has not seen the light of day since those beautiful fall schooling days! Today's post is info every equestrian needs at one point, but dreads having to use.
Bringing moldy leather tack back to life can seem like a daunting barn chore. I mean who really enjoys cleaning their tack after each ride, much less the tack covered in the fuzzy green stuff.
Be ready to set aside some time where you don't feel rushed, as well as muster up patience and a lot of elbow grease! Start by pulling all the tack to be cleaned outside or in a well-ventilated area so you can avoid inhaling mold spores and/or releasing them in the air only to land and spread on the already clean tack within your tack room (your barn besties may turn into frienemies otherwise).
Start by gathering these tack cleaning tools (many can be found around the house):
- 2 or 3 old rags to dampen and 2 or 3 dry rags to wipe dry
- Soft Toothbrush
- 2 Tack Sponges (or two small natural sponges will due)
- Leather Cleaner
- Leather Conditioner
Begin by unfastening any buckles and remove any fittings from your tack. Dampen a rag and wipe away as much surface mold as possible. Once the rag is fully covered in mold throw it away to keep from redepositing it on tack. Begin with a fresh dampened rag to continue or move on to the next step.
Dampen the toothbrush and gently massage it into the creases and hard to reach areas of your tack to remove any remaining mold. Rinse the toothbrush periodically to keep from redepositing mold spores onto tack.
After you've successfully removed the mold off your tack, it’s time to use leather cleaner. Be sure to keep in mind that many tack manufacturers have specific cleaning instructions for their tack and recommend certain cleaners and conditioners. So we suggest checking your tack maker's website before cleaning.
Poor a quarter size amount of your favorite leather cleaner to a tack sponge. My favorite is the Leather Therapy Wash . Thoroughly massage in small circular motions, covering the entire leather area while avoiding any suede or rough-out areas. Gently rub the cleaner into the leather until there’s no residue left over from it. Read the directions of your particular cleaner to know if it requires removal with a damp cloth.
Lastly, after you've allowed your tack to fully dry, it's time to condition the leather and restore the moisture removed during cleaning. A good leather conditioner will also help your tack stay soft and supple. A former dressage trainer turned me on to the Passier Lederbalsam. Again check with the manufacturer for their guidelines on how often their pieces should be conditioned. It can really depend too on how often you ride and where you live due to the climate and weather.
Condition by applying a quarter size of conditioner to the second, clean tack sponge. Apply a thin coat of conditioner to all of the leather parts of your tack, paying special attention to cracking areas. If the conditioner disappears immediately, add another thin coat and work it into the leather. But remember that more isn't always better when it comes to your saddle. You can apply too much, which can soak through to your padding or tree and cause them to deteriorate.
Now take a moment to sit back, breath in the luscious clean leather smell and gaze at your glistening tack (because you're an equestrian- it won't last long). Make sure your tack is completely dry before you put it away.