“How should I clean my leather furniture? I tried saddle soap, is that ok to use?”

We hear this quite often. After all, it seems like the right thing to use, as certainly saddles are made from leather.

Despite what it seems like, it’s a mistake! You see, leather intended for saddles and leather intended for furniture is processed very differently.

Saddles are made from heavy-duty belt leather which is vegetable tanned to withstand the harsh environment of the out-doors. It’s tough, highly durable leather and can stand up to the use of chemically harsh leather cleaners, like saddle soap.

Upholstery leather is processed differently. Using chromium tanning chemistry, the end result is soft, supple leather that is much more sensitive to harsh cleaners like saddle soap.

Think about your own skin. Would you wash your face with a strong household cleaner like 409? Certainly it would clean your face, however the drying and chaffing effect it would have on your skin is not desirable, particularly with repeated use. The same is true for upholstery leather.

The fact is that upholstery leather is acidic. It has a pH of 4.5 – 5. Harsh cleaners are highly alkaline. Consequently a chemical reaction occurs in the leather that breaks down its fibrous structure and stiffens the leather. Therefore it’s important to use leather cleaners that are chemically engineered (pH balanced) specifically for upholstery leather. If you would like more information about appropriate upholstery leather cleaners and conditioners, visit our leather care page.

Just remember, saddle soap may or may not remove manure, clumps of dirt, and the grime from a saddle after a week out on the trail, while sitting on the back of a horse, but hopefully, your furniture is not subjected to the same environment. To prolong the life of your leather furniture, our advice is to use the correct (pH balanced) leather care products, like our product found on our consumer products page.

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