How are you people getting your saddle pads so clean??

I have about 7 or 8 schooling pads I rotate through and take home to wash when dirty. I just went through the whole process of cleaning them and I swear they look just as dirty! I see other people at my barn wash their pads and bring them back sparkly and clean and I feel like I must be missing some magic secret!

I have an extra large top load washer with no agitator. I’m only putting 2-3 pads in per load so definitely not overloading them. I’m washing in hot water on the bulky items setting with an extra soak and rinse cycle. I use regular laundry detergent. After they wash, I hang them out on the deck to dry.

So where am I going wrong?? The pads come out with bits of dirt on the outside nice parts. I think the dirt is washing off the bottom, horse side of the pads and for some reason dirtying up the pads. And the hair, omg the hair. Little black hairs all over the outside of the pads. I try to get as much of the hair off the underside of the pads as possible before I wash them, but apparently I’m not succeeding. So the end result is pads that have dirt smeared on the outside and little black hairs everywhere. If it matters, these are all purpose schooling pads, mostly either Smartpak, Roma, or Dover.

I don’t know but I’d like to hear! Mine never look any cleaner either.


Add Oxi-clean. Hot water. Multiple washes and multiple rinses.


I vacuum mine if they have lots of hair. My washing machine is smaller than yours, but I only do 1 pad and a set of polos or 2 pads at a time. I wash on cool with regular laundry detergent and oxy clean.

ETA: I do also do an extra rinse. My washer has a “deep water wash and extra rinse” cycle, I use that.


I don’t know, but I’d like to figure it out. My whites are so dingy. I soak them in OxyClean before starting the wash and hang them to dry in the sunshine. My washer is a front loader and does a great job with everything else, including horse blankets.

Probably you see your own up close and everyone else’s from a little farther away.


Nah, I straight-up stared this lady’s blindly white pads down, contemplating my own laundry failures. She sends hers to the tack store to be professionally cleaned, but I’ve got a perfectly good washer at home and I’m too cheap for that!

I’m doing multiple rinses, soaks, and ran them through twice and still dirty and hairy! I’m going to try vacuuming them tonight! And will try oxi-clean next time, such a good idea!

Try Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing.


Vacuum all the hair off. Soak before washing. Wash before the pad gets disgusting.


The pH and composition of your water can be a factor, especially on a well.


I vacuume mine first, use oxy clean and I also have a white setting…works great and mine come out super white! I also don’t use really hot water, I can use a white setting that uses a low temperature and it works just as well. But, if I don’t vacuum first, they definitely don’t come out quite clean enough.

1 Like

I don’t have fancy machines, bought them in garage sale ages ago, but what works for me-

Soak in washer, then wash with regular detergent.

Then put in dryer on low or air fluff for a short spell.

The last part is not to actually dry them, but it gets all that extra hair & gunky bits off. My dryer is super basic, it had been in a house fire, but does a great job on this step.

I also use this to get animal hair off fleece stuff. No way am I vacuuming saddle pads, that’s too much like housework for me. :wink:


Well the washing machine without the agitator is one reason they aren’t so clean. Those things just don’t clean. The settings you are using are going to get them as clean as you can in that machine. Because the pads don’t really move around all the hair, gunk and debris settle on them at the end of the wash cycle. You should try putting them in the dryer on the ‘fluff’ cycle; no heat. this will remove most of the loose ‘stuff’ and they will be cleaner.

How do I know this? Because I deal with the same issue. I will put mine in with a low heat setting though.


Oh my gosh, well water. We knew we had high iron and manganese at our old house but not until we moved did I realize how much it was discoloring our laundry! I remember at one point my MIL recommended some whitening product and now I just laugh because there is no product in the world that was going to help. I had these white wash cloths I would wash the kid’s faces with after a meal when they were babies/toddlers, and they got dingier and dingier, and I thought, “Man, blueberries really stain!” So I would pre-soak them in Oxiclean and use my “whitest whites” setting and nothing helped.

Anyway OP, if you figure it out, please share. Maybe it will work on my show breeches.

1 Like

I get great, sometimes amazing, results by adding Biz. I like it far better for dirt/farm/animal stains than Oxiclean. Just my experience.

Here’s an interesting comparison:


Maybe take them to a laundromat if you have one nearby to see if it is your machine. Make sure to take off as much hair as possible and leave the machine clean, as it is for public use and people often frown upon horsey laundry at such establishments.

If you use the same method in a different machine and the results are better, it is either your water (if well) or machine.

My pads wash up nice and I was them on a normal cycle with cold or warm water with normal color detergent. I usually wash one at a time. I also wash them before they get really bad, and I think this helps. I’ve had some come out not so good and it’s usually because I’ve washed too many at once, or didn’t do proper hair removal first.
You could try soaking the pad before washing or giving it a good hose down to blast away some hair and dirt.

1 Like

I liberally hose down my pads after every ride to get rid of sweat and extra hair and crud. THEN, I wash them.


good old gall soap for dirty spots

With a top load washer, I found a lot of my stuff just floats to the top. I would have to regularly push it down (every 15-20 min) to make sure it was actually in the water. What a hassle.

This past weekend, for the first time I tried cleaning with a pressure washer and I will NEVER. GO. BACK. It was probably the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. Horse boots were white again, fly masks looked like new. However, 1) I now have a front load washer, which I think is a lot better than top load for making sure my stuff doesn’t just float, 2) I have sheepskin pads that were a little tricky with the power washer (the long fluffy wool was a little wiley). I think my plan is fly sheets, fly mask, boots get the power washer, and the pads get power washer + a quick spin in the washing machine with melp soap. I’ve only tried this once, but it was a total success. If you have the room, get a power washer and add that to your routine.

Another thing to consider (and was going to be my plan B) is to get a used agitator (or front load) washer just for horse laundry. Something vicious that you know will work, because (ime) some of the newer human-grade washers are just not tough enough.

1 Like

Vacuum the hell out of them first, then wash in a long cycle. If they have dried sweat on them, I vacuum, then soak in hot water in a bucket, rinse, then washing machine.

1 Like