Cleaning Leather Harnesses

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JMS Miniatures

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How often do you clean your leather harnesses? I clean mine with Lexol and it says to atleast clean it after every use.
 

ssshowhorses

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It depends if it a show or work harness. My show harnesses get cleaned after every show, I go over them if it has been a long time between shows(like in the winter) just to keep them moisturized and often just before a show to get them to shine up.

My work harnesses... umm before there is about an inch of dirt on them lol. I wipe them off the odd time but will really only clean them if it looks like a particular piece is drying out or getting very worn.
 

shorthorsemom

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I clean my harness either right before or right after I use it, This time of year it builds up so much crud. I check it for wear or cracks when I clean it. I just use glycerine saddle soap to clean it. I hate trying to get that thick crud off with just a sponge so I keep my stuff pretty clean. Could be urban legend but I always heard that using Lexol frequenly can rot the stitching. Probably not true, but forever ago I remember that being something people thought. I do love Lexol, but prefer good old saddle soap to remove sweat and crud.
 

RhineStone

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Neatsfoot Oil will rot the stitching. I know of people that just wipe the leather harness down with a damp cloth after every session. We don't have the time to do that, and we drive too much for that. I know I should, but in the summer that would be a lot when you are working 3-4 horses an evening, big and little all with separate harnesses. (It has been too cold to drive here almost this whole month! Maybe today since it is supposed to get above 20 degrees.)

We only have one harness per horse right now. I wish we had show and work harnesses, but we have too many different sizes of horses!
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So we give a good cleaning with Murphy's Oil Soap and water before each show (about 6-10x/year). Then we condition with Lexol, Harness Honey, etc. We only condition a couple times a year.

Myrna
 

Boinky

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I've always heard that it's neatsfoot oil COMPOUND that you want to stay away from as it will rot the stitching and that pure neatsfoot is fine. I know many of the neatsfoot oils if you don't read the label are really the compound and i think people run into a lot of problems because they are unsuspecting.

I use glycerine soap and usually neatsfoot oil, lexol, or something deep conditioning when i do clean them. My work harness and my show harness's are pretty much the same so they get cleaned really well before a show and ocationally when i'm only working. it is a good idea to deep condition a couple times a year at least to keep them soft and supple.
 

RhineStone

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From an article on carriagedriving.net:

"Look for a semi-solid conditioner that contains animal fats, as this is closer to the compounds used to tan the leather in the first place. Stay away from neatsfoot oil and dressings based primarily on neatsfoot oil, as it could lead to damage to the stitching in your harness."

When there are so many other good conditioners out there, I just can't see bothering with neatsfoot.

Myrna
 

Sue_C.

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From an article on carriagedriving.net:

"Look for a semi-solid conditioner that contains animal fats, as this is closer to the compounds used to tan the leather in the first place. Stay away from neatsfoot oil and dressings based primarily on neatsfoot oil, as it could lead to damage to the stitching in your harness."

When there are so many other good conditioners out there, I just can't see bothering with neatsfoot.

Myrna
This article is both right, and wrong. As Boinky stated, PURE neatsfoot oil IS purely animal-based, and is safe to use...it will not rot stitches. But...the neatsfoot oil COMPOUND is a mixture of pure neatsfoot, and non-animal, petrolatum oils...that WILL rot stitching.
 

Marsha Cassada

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I scrub mine once a year with soap, water and a stiff brush. Dry, then brush liberally with olive oil--on the advice of two seperate harness guys. One of my harnesses is 20+ years old. The other is almost 10 years old and looks good as new.

I do wipe the crupper fairly often.
 

RhineStone

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This article is both right, and wrong. As Boinky stated, PURE neatsfoot oil IS purely animal-based, and is safe to use...it will not rot stitches. But...the neatsfoot oil COMPOUND is a mixture of pure neatsfoot, and non-animal, petrolatum oils...that WILL rot stitching.
I'm pretty sure they were quoting David Freedman, who builds some of the best harnesses in the world today ($5K and up
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). We were told many years ago to only use NF Compound and not the pure stuff, so now I wouldn't trust any of it. When we were at Walnut Hill this year, David visited the neighbors (people parked next to us) who had purchased their harness from him. They were using Brasso to polish the brass and we thought David was going to come unglued! He told them not to use that cr-p on his harness, so if he says stay away from NF, I will heed that. He carries Oakwood on his website.

Myrna
 

Sue_C.

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I'm pretty sure they were quoting David Freedman, who builds some of the best harnesses in the world today ($5K and up
default_new_shocked.gif
). We were told many years ago to only use NF Compound and not the pure stuff, so now I wouldn't trust any of it. When we were at Walnut Hill this year, David visited the neighbors (people parked next to us) who had purchased their harness from him. They were using Brasso to polish the brass and we thought David was going to come unglued! He told them not to use that cr-p on his harness, so if he says stay away from NF, I will heed that. He carries Oakwood on his website.Myrna
Well, I never met the man, but if he said that you should only use oils made from animal fats...that IS pure neatsfoot oil...really...the word "neat" is an old-time word for beef/bovine. it is all, 100% animal fat. So, although I do not doubt his wisdom, I do think he meant the compound in this instance. It matters not...we all have our favourite products, and will continue to use them...I am just clarifying a fact.
 

JMS Miniatures

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Thanks it sounds like everyone does their own thing differenty. This is a work/show harness so I need to keep it real nice. So far I am liking what the Lexol is doing so think I will keep using it and clean the harness after every use.
 

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