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Preserving leather goods?

I have a couple leather halters I’d like to display in the barn, but they won’t be used again. They’ve been well cleaned and conditioned, but I’d like to treat the leather with something to … seal it? To preserve it, slow degredation, limit mold, etc etc. I was considering a light wax coating lightly buffed with a soft cloth, sort of like how bridles used to come new.

Any other ideas? While I’d love to say I’ll pull them down for cleaning and conditioning regularly, I know my limitations. Ha.

Is this In a spot where you have some control over the humidity?

Asking as I have had mold and mildew problems with my tack in every prior boarding barn. After reading that museums displaying leather keep the humidity between 30 and 70 percent, and finally having my oiwn tack room I am able to maintain humidity in that range. I have some tack displayed that hasn’t been used in nine years now and all I do is run a Swiffer duster over it occasionally. Not a hint of mildew or mold and still as supple as on day one.

Good question, but nope. No weather, under cover, but no control of temp or humidity.

In that case - beeswax. Straight natural beeswax, not a product that contains some beeswax combined with other ingredients. For example, I have a jar of beeswax for furniture polishing use, and the label just says beeswax; but the fine print on the back of the jar says “mixed with turpentine.” Beeswax will form a waxy coating, fill the leather pores, and waterproof the halters.


I accept that leather (at one time) was a living thing and ages like all living things. The only way I’ve found to keep leather is yearly dipping in “hot oil.” This is done at the Amish harness store --huge vat of warm oil: $5 one can have a harness dipped an hung for 3 days. The items look and feel better than new then. Each year I take all my leather strap stuff (halters, lead lines, stirrup leathers, bridles, etc) and have everything dipped (counts as one harness).

However, I don’t continue to use the “old” leather forever. It may feel great and look great, but as I said, it has a limited “life.” Fox hunting and doing Mounted Archery is hard on leather (especially stirrup leathers and reins, I think). Every year I replace my “primary” stirrup leathers on saddles I use most often --hunt saddle/dressage saddle, and rotate the leathers to a lesser used saddle --I feel safer that way.

Anyway, dipping works for me. I think there are WWW pages or YouTube that show how to do “hot oil” dip at home heating the oil in microwave and putting into zip-lock bags.

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I would recommend AGAINST hot dipping because of how it makes the leather feel. It was a highly recommended technique for harness when I was a kid, then again when we got into driving horses.

For us, it made the leather nasty feeling, leaving oil on everything it touched for a LONG time. Months, not just weeks. Could disguise bad leather in harness, that failed when you needed strength! No one took harness apart to be dipped, they never knew what was going on under buckles, possible wear points.

Leather was a living thing once, not sure how total sealing would affect it’s life. The beeswax idea sounds pretty good, using pure beeswax. Perhaps buying wax from a local honey producer, probably MUCH cheaper too, then warming wax to put it on leather would help get it deeper into the leather. Second suggestion is to use the hair dryer after getting wax on, buffing leather to a hard finish with the heat. Like polishing your boots!

That COTH hairdryer polishing tip is one of their best ideas I came across!!

Leather hung in a barn still will get dirty, but perhaps dirt wIll be more easily brushed off on cleaning day.


The traditional recommendation is Vaseline.

I appreciate both sides of the hot oil dipping debate!

I wound up mixing pure beeswax and effax lederbalsam 3:2, heating in a double boiler, and brushing that on the leather. Because the leather was room temp, it immediately solidified. I put everything in a “keep warm” oven until the majority had been absorbed, then pulled it and wiped off any excess. Felt like it was great for my cuticles!

I’m happy with how it all came out. The leather feels conditioned without being limp or sticky, and it’s got just a little teeny bit of gloss. We’ll see how it holds up in the barn.


Just a suggestion to keep them clean is to create a shadow box so they are behind glass or plexiglass.

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FYI for future efforts maybe try Skidmore’s leather cream. It’s mostly beeswax already. I love the stuff.

Also works on wood, too.


I tried to find what the ingredient’s are in Skidmore’s leather cream. They advertise it as “a magical substance” containing natural substances derived from plants and trees and insects. I suppose the insect part refers to beeswax. Finally I went to the MSDS safety data sheet - beeswax plus heavy paraffin distillate. Heavy paraffin distillates are petroleum products and it is a vague term that manufacturers are allowed to use on MSDS safety data sheets without having to disclose the exact petroleum products that they use.

Heavy petroleum distillates include diesel fuel, heating oil, petroleum jelly, and hydraulic fluid. I found quite a few discussions about goods and bads of petroleum products on leather-working forums.

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I was also curious and probably ran across the same discussion boards!

I’m generally super dubious about the “all in one” leather things that claim they clean and condition all at once…I don’t get how cleaning happens if you’re just rubbing the dirt into the leather with a conditioner? But things like this stuff or horseman’s one step sure have their fans, so what do I know. :woman_shrugging:

I can’t find the full ingredient list for the Effax lederbalsam, but it claims “all natural” with beeswax, lanolin and avocado oil. I find it sticky for tack that’s not used, but adding more wax to it did seem to work well. Will be interesting to see how it wears! I did also do a few dog collars, which will be in the house, so can compare inside neglect to in the barn neglect. Ha.

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I was going to suggest a shadow box with moisture absorbing packets on the bottom that could be changed out occasionally.

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Let me know how it works for you. Where did you get the beeswax?

I have two retired bridles from two different very special horses that have passed and I’ve been considering doing something similar to display them. One hangs up in my tack shed but the other is still in a box. I haven’t really worked up the courage or commitment to figure out a way to display them. :frowning: IIRC I wiped them both down with Belharra Saddle Soap a few years ago and they have been sitting since.

Some things I’ve learned about some products through my own trial and error:
Castile soap does not prevent mold well in dormant/sitting leather, it almost seems to encourage it - same with glycerin.
Passier Bridle Spray & Effax LeatherCombi does a good job of stripping leather of mold, but dries it out awfully.
If bridle is moldy, consider a hot bath dunk for 1m, and wipe down with rag until dry - follow up with Ivory soap on a rag or a mold-killing soap (teatree oil, etc)
Out of all the cleaning agents I have (castile soap, glycerin, LeatherHoney, Effax LeatherCombi, Oakwood, HS, Belharra, Farnam, Fiebings, Bickmore, Ivory soap, etc) Bickmore and Belharra deliver the best results for leather in storage including prevention of mold and keeping leather supple.
Don’t wrap leather in newspaper - this seems to foster mold, maybe it is cultures existing on the newspaper/ink, I don’t know
Don’t store leather immediately after cleaning - let it dry out for a few days
Don’t store leather in plastic bags
Save your silica desiccants packets from packages. One per bridle bag.
Best storage for leather I’ve found is a retired blanket bag - the mix of cloth + plastic seems breathable enough that it doesn’t encourage mold, but not so breathable it lets new moisture in

I used to make soap, so I had beeswax just sitting around, but it’s super available. This is the specific product I have but there are a ton of options on Amazon.


It took very little, I used 3 tablespoons wax to 2 tablespoons Effax. And have maybe 1/4 of it left over?

A shadow box of some sort would certainly be protective but isn’t really the type of thing I can work into the space I have.


You and me both - I secretly don’t care for their look either. I’ve seen some nice bridle hooks that do the part - is that what your set up is?

Yeah, I found some brass hooks I liked. There are quite a few out there!