Keeping harnesses clean

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slonewbt

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Hi everyone! I have 6 harnesses that I need to clean and keep cleaned/conditioned. Two are pairs harnesses and I'm kind of afraid to take them fully apart for fear I won't be able to get them put back together correctly. I could use all of your best tips and tricks for the easiest way to maintain quality leather harnesses. They are in need of a solid deep clean right now. I'm half tempted to send them to our local leather guy to have him do it....thoughts?
 

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MajorClementine

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I've dunked and scrubbed my leather harness with soapy water. The key is rinsing well and making sure they are ALL THE WAY DRY! Then oil. Do one harness at a time of your pairs so you know to put them back together.

If they aren't super sweat and dirt packed you can just rub them down with a damp cloth to clean and not take them apart.
 

BSharpRanch

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I try to keep saddle soap and a soft cloth at the ready whenever I drive so that I can jus do a quick wipe down after I use them. If they are going to not be used for a while I'll do a light coat of neatsfoot oil and then put them either in their tote, in their harness bag or on their rack. The racked harnesses get covered with a cotton tarp to keep them a bit cleaner.

The deep cleaning is done just before shows and usually that is mostly just cleaning the brass.

I have found that this is the easiest for me.
 

slonewbt

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I try to keep saddle soap and a soft cloth at the ready whenever I drive so that I can jus do a quick wipe down after I use them. If they are going to not be used for a while I'll do a light coat of neatsfoot oil and then put them either in their tote, in their harness bag or on their rack. The racked harnesses get covered with a cotton tarp to keep them a bit cleaner.

The deep cleaning is done just before shows and usually that is mostly just cleaning the brass.

I have found that this is the easiest for me.
That's a really good plan for the future...but they are in need of a deep clean now. I just did a light clean and kept finding more and more places that really need some scrubbing. I keep them all in harness bags but there is quite a bit of yuck built up on some places
 

slonewbt

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Clean? Is anything really clean with horses? I see dust, I brush dust off… sometimes…. Or I say whatever… 🥰🥰🥰..… I’d rather snuggle ponies 🥰🥰
Very honest and accurate reply!!! Because they are harnesses, I want to keep somewhat clean for safety's sake...and b/c they look better in parades when they're clean(ish). lol!!!
 

Marsha Cassada

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I scrub mine with soapy water and stiff brush a couple of times a year. Dry well and then oil. If it's warm outside, I use a medium paintbrush and spread olive oil. Two separate leather guys told me to use olive oil. Maybe some other oil is better, but that's what I use. I wipe off the excess. Otherwise, set the olive oil in a pan of warm water; it absorbs better into the leather if it is warm.
I clean off the crupper every time and the breast collar/breeching if they have been super sweaty.
I try not to take apart the breeching strap, as I find it so difficult to reassemble. I take pictures before I take them apart, which helps a little to reassemble.
Don't know if my way is the best, but one of my harnesses is at least 30 years old, and the other is nearly 20.
Good luck with all those straps and buckles! Hope there are not a lot of conways!
 

MajorClementine

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I usually use an oil with beeswax as it helps seal the leather and give it a little water/sweat resistance. I bet you could melt some beeswax with olive oil!
 

Cayuse

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I cheat. I slide my harness apart one strap at a time, clean that piece, then reattach. I never take the entire thing completely apart. Especially the bridle. I'm capable of putting it back together (I think!), I'm just lazy. Clean, but lazy :).
 

slonewbt

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I just talked to my leather guy....he's a friend and is doing some work for us on the ranch.....I think I'm going to have him professionally clean them for me and then hopefully I can maintain. He says he has alot of people send their harnesses in once a year or so for a professional cleaning and then the owners maintain the rest of the time. Mine are far overdue for a serious scrub!
 

Marsha Cassada

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I just talked to my leather guy....he's a friend and is doing some work for us on the ranch.....I think I'm going to have him professionally clean them for me and then hopefully I can maintain. He says he has alot of people send their harnesses in once a year or so for a professional cleaning and then the owners maintain the rest of the time. Mine are far overdue for a serious scrub!
I'd love to know what he does to "professionally clean" a harness. Hopefully he puts it all back together again! I read some historical novels and I think about the days when every stable had a person who did nothing but clean harness and vehicles after every use.
 

slonewbt

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I'd love to know what he does to "professionally clean" a harness. Hopefully he puts it all back together again! I read some historical novels and I think about the days when every stable had a person who did nothing but clean harness and vehicles after every use.
He's taught classes on the subject and just gave me a lecture about cleaning harnesses...lol...I'm not sure I could repeat everything he said!
 

MaryFlora

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It is always an education when an experienced professional in their field shares.

Growing up we cleaned saddles and bridles at a hunter/jumper stable in northwest Florida in exchange for lessons. The method preferred by the owner (retired and elderly cavalry officer) was mild soap and water followed by a good rub of saddle soap.

I am sure your harness will return lovely and soft! Maybe a photo? ;)
 

slonewbt

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It is always an education when an experienced professional in their field shares.

Growing up we cleaned saddles and bridles at a hunter/jumper stable in northwest Florida in exchange for lessons. The method preferred by the owner (retired and elderly cavalry officer) was mild soap and water followed by a good rub of saddle soap.

I am sure your harness will return lovely and soft! Maybe a photo? ;)
I'll try to remember. He's booked with leather orders for Christmas so it'll be awhile before he can get to my harnesses. :-(
 

slonewbt

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It is always an education when an experienced professional in their field shares.

Growing up we cleaned saddles and bridles at a hunter/jumper stable in northwest Florida in exchange for lessons. The method preferred by the owner (retired and elderly cavalry officer) was mild soap and water followed by a good rub of saddle soap.

I am sure your harness will return lovely and soft! Maybe a photo? ;)
[/QUOTE]


And...yes...what I did remember from his lecture is that leather is like our own skin so we need to strip the crud off (with a mild soap and water....there is actually a specific carpet cleaning product (I know, right??) that he likes best but I don't remember the name) and then replenish with oil....he likes warm olive oil actually...beeswax is good too. Also - that every horse owner will tell you something different and so many of the old wive's tales about leather just aren't true
 

MaryFlora

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Yes indeed! So many ideas to learn and think about!

I don‘t know anyone that has used warm olive oil on harness leather but do know some who use as moisturizer for themselves.

Such a shame technology doesn’t allow you to send a tactile photo afterwards so we can feel how soft and supple it will be! 😊
 

slonewbt

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Yes indeed! So many ideas to learn and think about!

I don‘t know anyone that has used warm olive oil on harness leather but do know some who use as moisturizer for themselves.

Such a shame technology doesn’t allow you to send a tactile photo afterwards so we can feel how soft and supple it will be! 😊
Marsha earlier in this conversation said she uses olive oil as well....she said a few different leathersmiths told her to use it so it must be a thing! :)
 
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