We are often asked how to clean saddle pads and so have decided to answer all those questions by creating a step-by-step guide.
A good quality saddle pad is an investment and whilst many customers buy pads because they look good, remember that most have been carefully designed to fit and protect your horse’s back, acting as a barrier between the horse hair, sweat, and other detritus, dispelled by your horse when they are being ridden. Keeping your pads clean, will not only extend the life of your pad but will ensure your horse is always comfortable, and free from harmful bacteria and chafing which can ultimately lead to saddle sores or skin conditions.
As a retailer of top-quality Mattes saddle pads, we understand the importance of keeping your pad clean but are often asked “how to wash saddle pads” as many riders are unsure of the best way of caring for their pads. To answer this and other questions we are asked on a regular basis, we have decided to create a step-by-step guide. As we sell both types of pads, the advice in this guide can be used in conjunction with cleaning an English saddle pad or a western saddle pad.
Before we get into the cleaning process, a question we are frequently asked is “How often to wash saddle pads?” The answer really depends on a couple of factors, how many pads you own and how often you ride. If you are riding every week and can rotate pads, ideally you should be washing your pad after every ride or at least once a week, to remove sweat and dirt.
Allowing mud, sweat, and bacteria to remain on the saddle pad will cause it to break down prematurely and can lead to skin irritation and discomfort. Cleaning immediately is not only good for your horse’s health but also extends the life of your saddle pad. In fact, Mattes a top saddle pad manufacturer encourage all their customers to wash pads regularly as they actually benefit from a routine washing regime. Washing on a regular basis not only removes unwanted detritus, but also the sebum and ammonia content, which if left, can in actual fact break down sheepskin and wool fibers.
Working on a dry pad is much easier than one that is damp with sweat. Once removed from the horse, leave your pad to dry out then begin by gently brushing the pad with a soft rubber brush or flat rubber curry comb in a circular motion so as to loosen the grime, which can then be hoovered up with a vacuum cleaner. Repeat this procedure until you have removed as much of the loose hair and dirt as possible.
Yes, saddle pads can be washed. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions or guidelines when washing, as some fabrics are more delicate than others and require special care. Use a mild ph-neutral detergent and consider using a protective fabric softener to help keep the fabric looking new. Air dry the pad to ensure it doesn’t shrink.
Yes, you can wash Western Saddle Pads, but the method depends on the type of western pad you own and the material it is made from. Large thick western pads, may not fit into a washing machine and will need to be hand washed. Whilst Western saddle pads are generally bigger than English ones, the Mattes Rio Pecos western saddle pad features a removable sheepskin, allowing you to wash it separately, and can generally be washed in a washing machine. There are some materials such as wool felt, memory foam, or gel pads which should only be hand washed as they will be damaged in a washer.
Before washing it is recommended to fasten any velcro straps together and remove any corrective shims or saddle fix system. You can hand wash your saddle pad, but for best results, it is recommended to use a washing machine as it is more effective at the cleaning process.
Hand-washing saddle pads and halters is possible without a washing machine. If you decide to hand wash your saddle pad, you can use a bath or tub filled with warm water and leave your pad to soak in a mild ph-neutral detergent. (wool and felt pads should only be washed in water as the soap can become ingrained in the fibres). Make sure you have rinsed the pad until the water runs clear. Special care should be taken when washing nylon or leather items to prevent damage to the material.
Yes in fact this is recommended, but take care not to overload your machine and make sure you use a 30°C wash cycle with normal spin and the “Extra water” option if you have it. If not then open the detergent drawer and add an extra three or four litres of water.
Yes, pressure washing your saddle pad is possible. However, it is important to check the washing instructions prior to cleaning, as some materials may not be suitable for this type of cleaning. Additionally, ensure that a mild ph neutral detergent, appropriate for the material, is used in conjunction with the pressure washer. If you haven’t got access to a pressure washer a garden hose with a spray head attachment will also work.
You should avoid any wool detergent, soap, or bleach products as these will damage your fleece/sheepskin saddle pad. Mattes have developed their own detergent called MELP designed to clean sheepskin products and in particular Merino wool that is used in Mattes sheepskin saddle pads. This biodegradable detergent re-greases and restores the elasticity of natural wool and hide, maintaining the hide as well as the wool. If your saddle pad contains natural sheepskin it is worth investing in Mattes Liquid MELP.
Yes, good quality saddle pads can be dried in the dryer on a cool setting. Once the washing machine cycle has finished remove your pad immediately to start the drying process. Lambskin items can also be dried on a cool or cold setting (max 30°C setting) in the tumble dryer.
Alternatively, you can leave your pad to air dry by hanging it over a fence rail or better still a clothes horse, or drying rack either indoors or outdoors, but never in direct sunlight as this will cause your pad to fade and even cause stiffness or shrinkage. Don’t try air drying your pad upside down or on its side, as this will damage the shape. Drying times will vary according to the thickness and quality of your saddle pad, but it is recommended to gently reshape the pad as it drys. Check the label for specific care instructions.
Many of the Mattes Western Saddle Pads have a leather side protection strip on them. You should wipe the leather off with a damp cloth and then apply a good quality leather conditioner, being careful not to get it on the cloth material of the pad.
Wash white saddle pads with mild detergent and cold water, then rinse thoroughly. For a deep clean, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the wash cycle. Line dry or tumble dry on low heat. To remove stubborn stains, use a gentle brush with an approved cleaner and never apply harsh chemicals which could damage the fabric.
Once the pad is completely dry you should brush the sheepskin with a sheepskin or dog grooming brush to restore the softness and fluff to the wool fibres. The next step is to, carry out a visual check to make sure the shape hasn’t changed, there is no visible damage, and it is still fit for purpose. If the pad is an old one and looks thin or threadbare it may be time to replace it.
To protect your investment saddle pads should be stored in a cool, dry clean environment away from direct sunlight to keep them in top condition and lasting for years. Avoid folding or rolling the pad, instead hang the pad on a saddle rack or hang it on a hanger or place it flat on a shelf.
We hope that this article has answered the many questions we get asked on a regular basis, but if you have a specific query that we haven’t covered here, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to assist.