Friday, March 19, 2010

Leather CPR - a Review

I was contacted by the makers of Leather CPR to do a review of their products. They offered to send me free samples and in exchange asked me to write a blog post about the products. They also said they would offer my readers free samples too. So, lets get to it!

The first product of the Leather CPR Cleaner and Conditioner.

I love the packaging, because I can just hang the squeeze bottle on my tack hook.

I read the instructions -

"Apply Leather CPR liberally using a clean, soft sponge. Do not use cloth to apply, or product will be absorbed into the cloth rather than the leather. Leave Leather CPR on item for 1 to 2 minutes to allow product to dissolve the dirt and condition leather. Continue to rub item with sponge to loosen dirt. Wipe off excess product and dirt with a clean, soft cloth. Repeat if necessary."

- and started cleaning. The cleaner is a one step cream cleaner, not a soap. It's very similar to Horseman's One Step, but not as goopy and neater to use since it comes in the squeeze bottle and not the tub (well, Horseman's One Step used to come in a tub. I haven't used it for years). At first the product goes onto the leather very nicely, but after a minute or two I felt like I was smearing dirty cream all over my saddle. Then I was left with a dirty, creamy, sponge. I didn't like that.

I did follow the instructions to put the cream on, wait a minute to two, then rub with the sponge. Again it didn't feel like I was getting the leather clean. Then I wiped with a clean towel, as per the instructions. The towel was full of black gunk. Yuck.

I know the instructions said to use a clean sponge, but I don't have an unlimited supply of clean sponges so I had to rinse my sponge out and use it again. I had two saddles and two bridles to clean, so I had to rinse my sponge multiple times. I got as much water out of it as I could and I started again. Once the sponge was wet it felt like I was getting too much water on the leather, and the sponge got dirty really fast so I was constantly rinsing and reapplying cleaner. Doing it this way took me about three times as long as I usually spend on tack cleaning, and when I'm at the barn I need to be efficient and get done ASAP! Although the first time I used it I didn't really like the results, I decided to use it for a week before I passed any judgment.

The next time I decided to use it more like I would a soap, where I would scrub with the cream and rinse the sponge until the sponge didn't get dirty anymore. This seemed to work the best, and the leather seemed cleaner. I did go through a lot of product that way, but I was starting to think that my tack wasn't really clean to start with and that the cream was just taking a few cleaning sessions to lift all the buildup off of the leather.

The third time I used it, I noticed that my tack felt cleaner. When I use my soap, and then go to use my tack the next time, often my hands will get tacky black marks on them when I buckle the straps, and the leather feels tacky and sticky. After two cleans with the Leather CPR my tack didn't have that tacky sticky black stuff coming off of it anymore. And when I cleaned it the third time I noticed that my sponge didn't get as dirty as fast as it was the first two times.

Dressage Today runs a column called "Ask the Experts". In one column, the question was about leather care, and the expert was saddler Jochen Schleese. You can read his explanation of how to care for leather here. He explained that soap should not sit on leather, and should be rinsed off after use. Which makes sense, since leather is skin, and you wouldn't wash your face with soap and then just let the soap sit on there. So I'm wondering if I had a sticky soapy buildup on my leather, and it took three good cleanings to get rid of it.

Here is the proof that my tack was getting cleaner - this is the rinse bucket after the third cleaning -

A few more comments - once cleaned with the Leather CPR my leather seemed a bit drier than I was used to. I don't know if the soap buildup made the leather feel more moist or something, but it was certainly drier. Especially since I often used to wash my tack with glycerin soap and then condition with a leather conditioner. I don't know if the conditioner was making the soap sticky or what was going on there. But when I say my leather was drier I don't mean it was stiff - it was still soft and pliable. Also, I'm not sure I agree with the directions. It seemed to work better for me using it like a non-foaming soap, rinsing the sponge when it got dirty instead of smearing it on the tack and wiping it with a cloth.

Overall, here is how I rate the Leather CPR Leather Cleaner and Conditioner

Packaging - Excellent, very neat and easy to use
Feel - Good, non-greasy cream
Effectiveness - Excellent, seemed to get rid of soap scum and sticky black stuff
Cost Efficiency - Fair/poor, I had to use a lot of product compared to the glycerine soap

They also sent me the Clear Boot Polish.

While I'm not showing right now, and don't have show boots to polish, I did polish my riding boots and another pair of my Ariat shoes. The instructions were simple -

"Apply polish sparingly using a clean, soft sponge. Do not wipe off."

The polish is a thin cream which smelled really good, but the packaging sucked!

I like the little sponge that comes with it, but then there is this covering on the jar that is hard to get off. The first time I pulled it off I spilled the product all over my hand and the side of the jar. Messy! I followed the directions and it gave nice results. It didn't give a really high gloss shine, but I think it would have if it had been buffed. I didn't bother with any buffing, since it says "no buffing required."

I cleaned my riding boots, and then applied polish to the one on the right. It's a bit shinier, but nothing super glossy.

Packaging - Poor, hard to use
Feel - Excellent, smells nice too
Effectivness - Good, gave a nice shine
Cost Efficiency - Excellent, you only need a tiny bit and the tub is a decent size

So I'd have to say that I'd give each product a Good rating overall. There were things I liked an things I didn't like about each one. The big question is if I'm going to go back to my glycerine soap or buy more Leather CPR cleaner. The soap is cheaper, but I don't like the sticky black buildup. And I never rinse the soap off of my tack, so Leather CPR is probably better for my leather. But it takes a bit longer than using soap. I'll probably use all the sample and then decide what to do next - buy some more or go back to soap!

But hey, don't take my word for it. Go here to get your own free samples. The company said that they are giving away full sized samples, but that they have a limited supply, so sign up soon. And let me know what you think. Maybe I'm just too picky about my tack cleaning stuff and you guys will give it an excellent rating!

Visit to get your free samples!


dressapp said...

I've used the second product you reviewed and while it cleans, it doesn't really bring a good shine to my leather products. And I don't feel as if it really conditioned my boots and saddle enough. Kind of reminds me of two in one shampoos. It's just better to get a separate shampoo and conditioner.

Rising Rainbow said...

I have product to test as well. I think I've seen this product when I worked in the tack store. My tack is filthy from working outside in a wet arena so it's going to be a real test.

I was worried about smearing all the much around too. Maybe I'll try the way you did it to see what I get.

MsToriJones said...

I use CPR. First I clean with saddle soap or glycerine soap (plain, no colors or perfumes), then I let dry, then I use Leather CPR. If it is boots that should be polished, I use polish on them once all the conditioner is absorbed.

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr