How to Use Saddle Soap on Boots

If you own a pair of leather boots, you know how important it is to keep them well-maintained. Regular cleaning and conditioning can extend the life of your boots and keep them looking their best. One of the most popular and effective products for cleaning leather boots is saddle soap. This simple and versatile soap has been used for decades to clean and condition all kinds of leather goods, including boots, saddles, and tack. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of saddle soap and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to use it on your boots.

How to Use Saddle Soap

What is Saddle Soap?

Saddle soap is a gentle, glycerin-based soap that is specifically designed for cleaning and conditioning leather. It is made from a combination of natural ingredients, including tallow (animal fat), lye, and fragrant oils. Unlike harsh detergents, saddle soap is pH-balanced and won’t strip the natural oils from leather, helping to maintain its suppleness and prevent cracking or drying.

Key Ingredients in Saddle Soap

  • Tallow: A rendered form of beef or mutton fat, tallow provides lubrication and conditioning properties.
  • Lye: Also known as sodium hydroxide, lye is a key ingredient in soap-making and helps to saponify (combine) the tallow with other ingredients.
  • Glycerin: A byproduct of the soap-making process, glycerin acts as a humectant, helping to draw moisture into the leather and keep it supple.
  • Fragrant Oils: Essential oils like cedarwood, pine, or lanolin are often added to saddle soaps to provide a pleasant scent.

Benefits of Using Saddle Soap on Boots

Using saddle soap on your leather boots offers several benefits:

  1. Deep Cleaning: Saddle soap is effective at removing dirt, grime, and other buildup from the surface of leather, restoring its natural lustre.
  2. Conditioning: In addition to cleaning, saddle soap helps to condition the leather, keeping it soft and supple.
  3. Protection: The oils in saddle soap create a protective barrier against water, salt, and other elements that can damage leather.
  4. Long-Lasting: A little saddle soap goes a long way, making it a cost-effective solution for boot care.
  5. Versatile: Saddle soap can be used on a variety of leather items, including boots, saddles, furniture, and more.

How to Use Saddle Soap on Boots: Step-by-Step Guide

Before you begin, you’ll need a few supplies:

  • Saddle soap (solid or liquid form)
  • A clean, damp cloth
  • Dry cloth or brush (for buffing)
  • Water (if using solid saddle soap)

Step 1: Prepare the Boots

Start by removing any dirt or debris from the surface of your boots using a dry brush or cloth. This will help the saddle soap work more effectively.

Step 2: Prepare the Saddle Soap

If you’re using solid saddle soap, wet the bar with water and work it into a lather. If you’re using liquid saddle soap, simply pour a small amount onto a damp cloth.

Step 3: Apply the Saddle Soap

Using circular motions, gently rub the saddle soap onto the leather surface of your boots. Pay special attention to areas with heavy soiling or scuffs. Be sure to cover the entire surface, including the soles and welts.

Step 4: Let it Sit

Allow the saddle soap to sit on the leather for a few minutes. This will give it time to penetrate and loosen any stubborn dirt or grime.

Step 5: Wipe Clean

Using a clean, damp cloth, wipe away the saddle soap from the surface of the leather. You may need to apply a bit of elbow grease to remove any remaining residue.

Step 6: Buff and Shine

Once the boots are clean, use a dry cloth or brush to buff the leather. This will help to restore the natural shine and lustre of the leather.

Tips and Tricks for Using Saddle Soap on Boots

  • Always test the saddle soap on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discolouration or damage.
  • Avoid using saddle soap on suede or nubuck leather, as it can damage the delicate nap.
  • If your boots are heavily soiled, you may need to repeat the cleaning process a few times.
  • For added conditioning, consider applying a leather conditioner or polish after cleaning with saddle soap.
  • Avoid getting saddle soap on the soles of your boots, as it can make them slippery.
  • Allow your boots to fully dry before wearing them again.

Cleaning Different Types of Leather Boots

While saddle soap is generally safe for most types of smooth leather boots, it’s important to take extra precautions when cleaning certain types of leather:

  • Suede and Nubuck: Avoid using saddle soap on these delicate leathers, as it can damage the nap. Instead, use a specialized suede or nubuck cleaner and brush.
  • Patent Leather: For patent leather boots, use a mild soap and water solution, and avoid using saddle soap or other oil-based products, as they can dull the shiny finish.
  • Distressed or Antiqued Leather: Be gentle when cleaning these types of leather, as saddle soap can potentially remove some of the distressing or antiquing. Use a soft cloth and minimal soap.

Choosing the Right Saddle Soap

When it comes to saddle soap, there are several options available on the market. Here are a few popular choices:

  1. Kiwi Saddle Soap: One of the most well-known and widely available saddle soaps, Kiwi is a trusted brand that has been around for decades.
  2. Fiebing’s Saddle Soap: This high-quality saddle soap is made from natural ingredients and is highly effective at cleaning and conditioning leather.
  3. Lexol Saddle Soap: Lexol is a premium brand that offers a range of leather care products, including gentle and effective saddle soap.
  4. Bickmore Saddle Soap: This versatile saddle soap can be used on all types of leather, making it a great choice for boots and other leather goods.

No matter which brand you choose, be sure to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

BrandKey FeaturesPrice Range
Kiwi Saddle SoapWell-known, widely available$
Fiebing’s Saddle SoapNatural ingredients, effective$$
Lexol Saddle SoapPremium quality, gentle formula$$$
Bickmore Saddle SoapVersatile, suitable for all leathers$$

Maintaining Your Boots After Cleaning

Once you’ve cleaned your boots with saddle soap, it’s important to maintain them to ensure their longevity. Here are a few tips:

  1. Apply a leather conditioner or polish: After cleaning, consider applying a leather conditioner or polish to help keep the leather supple and protect it from drying out. Some popular options include Saphir RenovateurObenauf’s Leather Conditioner, and Huberd’s Shoe Grease.
  2. Store your boots properly: When not in use, store your boots in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Consider using boot trees or shapers to help maintain their shape.
  3. Rotate your boots: If you have multiple pairs of boots, rotate their use to allow each pair to rest and recover between wearings. This will help extend their lifespan.
  4. Waterproof your boots: For added protection against water and salt, consider applying a waterproofing spray or cream to your boots. Popular options include Sno-Seal, Nikwax Waterproofing, and Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Leather Preservative.
  5. Replace the laces: Over time, boot laces can become worn and frayed. Replace them regularly to keep your boots looking fresh and tidy.
  6. Resole your boots: If the soles of your boots are wearing thin, consider having them resolved by a professional cobbler. This can significantly extend the life of your boots and prevent further damage.

By following these simple maintenance tips, you can extend the life of your boots and keep them looking their best for years to come.


Saddle soap is an essential tool in any book-lover’s arsenal. Its gentle yet effective formula makes it ideal for cleaning and conditioning leather boots, helping to remove dirt and grime while nourishing the material. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can easily incorporate saddle soap into your boot care routine. Remember to choose a high-quality saddle soap, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and maintain your boots after cleaning to ensure their longevity and continued good looks. With a little care and attention, your leather boots can be a stylish and durable companion for years to come.

Sharing Is Caring:

As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.

Leave a Comment