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Best Tactics for Removing Mold on Leather Tack (Safely!)

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Summer is the PERFECT weather for riding, swimming, and you got it MOLD! Sometimes life just gets in the way and we can't find the time to ride for a week or two and we get back to tack that is nice and moldy.

Although it is tough to completely recover tack that has been neglected, where there's a will there's a way!

How to Clean Mold Off Leather Tack

First things first! Let's Quarantine the affected tack outside. Mold spores easily spread and can contaminate other leather items, so we want to be sure to do this away from any other tack. We are also going to want to dispose of ANY cloths or sponges used to clean off the mold as those will be infected with the dreaded green fuzz spores. So be sure to pick out something that you are not attached to!

Scrub the leather with a damp sponge, using plenty of water (yes, water!) and a pH balanced leather cleaner such as Lexol Cleaner in small circular motions. Don't be tempted to reach for the bleach, alcohol, or vinegar!!! While those ingredients have some disinfectant properties, they can severely damage your tack and may cause more damage to your tack than the mold itself. You may also be tempted to reach for the saddle soap....think again! Saddle soaps contain glycerin which actually attracts and holds atmospheric moisture....aka encourages more mold!
Discard each cloth as it becomes dirty. If you need to use a soft bristled brush check it doesn’t scratch the leather by testing it on a small hidden area. Next, use a dry rag to wipe away any left over mold, cleaner, and water.

Now that you have scrubbed the mold away, its time to let nature help you out! Place your tack in direct sunlight and let it dry completely. The ultraviolet light of the sun may not be good for your skin but it has disinfecting properties for your tack! Once dry check your tack over again to make sure you got all the mold, if not, time to scrub again and then let dry once more.

Now that your tack is dry and you have worked up a nice sweat (I mean glisten!), it is time to restore the natural oils to your tack. This step is often "forgotten" by many members of the horse community, but it is a very important step! Would you shampoo your hair without applying a conditioner afterwards? Most likely not ! Conditioners are formulated to restore the natural oils in your tack, and will actually help extend it's life and keep it from cracking. So, we are going to now apply a light layer of Leather Conditioner to your tack (we like Lexol Leather Conditioner!) and let dry in the sun once again. After this, its time to put your tack up! (Finally)

So we don't ever have to go through that again, what is the best way to prevent this from happening?

Mold loves damp, dark places with poor ventilation. So let's pick a location for our tack that it is light with good air flow and stays dry.

Good rule of thumb.....if you don’t like the air in the space then the chances are
your leather tack won’t either!  A de-humidifier is an excellent asset to tack rooms (and are quite inexpensive I might add) especially if you live in a humid climate.

While you're out shopping you might as well go to your local tack shop and buy a nice saddle cover and bridle bag. This will prevent it from getting wet from a leaky roof, keep it dust free, and away from rodents.

Does your horse ever work up a sweat when you ride? We thought so! Before putting your tack in your new protective equipment let it dry. If you are really wanting to be proactive, you should give your tack a quick wipe down after each ride prior to storing. Lexol Quick Wipes are excellent for this task!

Hungry for some more leather care tips? Check out our FREE Lexol Leather Care Guide. Plus, you get $13 in Lexol Coupons too!


Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler graduated from Truman State University in 2013 with a BS in Animal Science & Nutrition and a minor in Equine Science. Gabby currently works on Manna Pro’s marketing team, and enjoys competing regularly with her six horses.

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