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Specialist saddle soap/balms for French saddles

I’m sure it’s not the only brand to do this but Devoucoux strongly recommends you use their $30 glycerine saddle soap and $30 balm on their saddles (the latter being low solvent so the leather color is not compromised). Of course this may just be marketing but:

a) is there any good reason to follow their advice?
b) if not, what’s the best cleaner/balm for buffalo leather?

I am not the best one to answer this but I use Butet’s $50 tub of Akene on all my tack. It’s luxurious!

All the good balms are pricey, might as well go with the brand name. I have Belvoir and Passier Ledersbalm, both very nice, but both in this price range too. Or maybe more (I’m in $CAN)


As someone who worked in a tack shop for several years, we always suggest the brand leather cleaner and conditioner. If not, we advise to stick with a product designed for that type of leather/region.

From my training and experience a German leather cleaner such as lederbalsam can strip the dye from nice English, Italian or French leather. German leather has a different tanning process that allows it to take a ‘stronger’ cleaner/conditioner. Similarly, English leather has a better result with a product designed for it.

Albion, MadCow or Rapide Leathergel products on Albion/Baines/Fairfax/KL Select leather
Lederbalsam on Stubben/Passier/Dobert leather
Belvoir/Devoucoux on Butet/Devoucoux/Voltaire
Amerigo cleaner/conditioner on Amerigo or Italian leather

I still remember calling a client that cleaned their saddle with a German soap (I hate that I keep saying Lederbalsam but that’s all that comes to mind at the moment) to tell them that it voided any claims against leather quality/issues.