Love it or hate it, there’s no way around it – leather needs to be cleaned and conditioned to stay nice. If you neglect your leather, it will stiffen up, mold, crack, dry rot, and will eventually break. The best thing for leather tack is use to keep it soft and supple, but if you use it hard and never spend the extra time to take care of it, you’re going to find yourself heading to the tack store for a replacement sooner rather than later.
I have tried numerous leather care products, but the ones I always come back to are Leather Therapy’s cleaner and restorer products. The cleaner has a sudsing action which takes the dirt and grime right off. It also leaves the leather feeling smooth not tacky – just make sure you don’t use too much that it leaves a film on your equipment. I have not found a better cleaner and I have used numerous types of glycerin soaps as well as other cleaning products like Leather New and Lexol. Anything with glycerin doesn’t really take the dirt off without a ton of scrubbing and scaping, plus I have found the glycerin leaves a sticky film on the leather, and makes your conditioners not as effective.
Leather Therapy’s Restorer product is excellent at restoring old, neglected, or mildew laden tack (as the name suggests). I used to work at a harness and leather repair shop and this was their go to product when old saddles would come in to be reconditioned. I also love it for just keeping my tack soft and in good shape. It is great for inhibiting and killing mold growth. Same as with the wash, a little goes a long way with this product, especially if you are just using it to maintain tack, so don’t be scared by the slightly higher price tag than other leather care products – Leather Therapy is worth it!