When a product with a pH that is not near the pH of leather is applied to your saddle, your saddle leather reacts just like that old elementary school science project volcano. This seems dramatic, but the same reaction is taking place and it is damaging your saddle at the cellular level. You can’t see this damage occurring while you clean and it can take months or years before it is observable. Because of this I didn’t give much thought to what I used to clean my tack. There are one or two products on the shelves that say they were pH balanced or pH matched to leather, but what does this mean? Is this just another gimmick? Actually, no, using leather care products that are pH matched to leather is pretty important to keep your tack happy.
Leather goods are mildly to moderately acidic, so it is key to use products that have a pH within this range. This minimizes the damaged caused on the cellular level by the same reaction as that science project volcano. I know that our tack is a major investment for us equestrians, so I think it is definitely worthwhile for horsemen to use a pH matched leather cleaner. There are a couple of pH matched leather cleaners on the market. Lexol offers a pH matched leather cleaner. And, of course, so does yours truly, Sterling Essentials.