Western saddles may have a suede seat that is padded and quilted or just rough suede. Some English saddles have suede knee rolls. Suede is a type of leather that is not full-grain and requires attention to keep it clean because it decays more quickly than leather by trapping moisture and dirt in the nap. Daily and monthly cleaning, as well as deep cleaning your saddle suede adds years of life to your investment.
A saddle accumulates dirt or sweat upon each use from the rider. Maintenance includes wiping down the suede on a saddle's seat or knee rolls with a dry cloth to remove loose soil and dampness from sweat.
If you use your saddle daily or almost daily for riding and exercising your horse, you should clean it monthly to restore the suede nap. Use a suede brush or a stiff bristle brush and work it in a circular motion to raise the nap and release any embedded debris. When the nap is standing up, use a handheld vacuum to remove the loose debris and allow the nap to stand up.
Deep clean the suede on a saddle about twice a year or as needed to remove stains. Lightly spray suede cleaner on the saddle and use a suede block to work it into the saddle in circular motions. A suede block looks like an oversized pencil eraser. Suede cleaner removes stains caused by sweat and rain. Allow the suede to dry completely and clean monthly to raise the nap.
Suede Cleaning Don'ts
Suede cleaners are a light spray for use on this type of leather only. More is not better in this case. Do not soak the suede with cleaner while deep cleaning. Never use leather wax, cream or paste on suede. These products are too heavy and destroy the integrity of the suede by compressing the nap.
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