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I have had these Stübben leather care products for quite some time (notice the almost empty tube of Hammanol). I bought these a couple of years ago on a whim as I know how solid Stübben saddles are…and I assumed their leather care would be no different. Here’s my review of these two great products.
The Stübben PH Balanced Soap and Hammanol have become my go-to leather care products for leather in TERRIBLE shape. I have cleaned literally hundreds of donated and neglected tack items (saddles, side reins, reins, bridles, halters, lead ropes, girths, latigo straps, etc) when working for a horse rescue. I was recently gifted the bridle in the photos above by my trainer (she bought it for $10…and thought I would like the colored padding which matches Champ’s halter). This bridle is probably the most disgusting piece of leather I have come across in my years of cleaning gross tack that I didn’t just immediately throw away. It was clear that this bridle had been heavily oiled and then allowed to sit and collect dirt, mildew and mold for a long period of time. The dirt and sludge was caked on and it was as hard as a rock. I wasn’t sure it was salvageable.
Thanks to the cleaning power of the Stübben soap, I was able to get this bridle clean in just two cleanings (it did take some elbow grease, but not as much as you might imagine for the condition of the leather). The glycerin based cleaner also softened up the leather enough for me to see that this was going to be usable, even if only for schooling. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this cleaner and I love it. It has a neutral smell, a gel-like texture and works in well to leather using a sponge. It is PH balanced and safe for leather goods (as you would expect from a cleaner attached to a saddle company).
The Stübben Hammanol is a totally different beast than anything else I’ve ever used for anything. The texture is incredibly thick, like almost solidified animal fat which makes it really hard to apply in a not ridiculous manner. Speaking of animal fat, that’s exactly what it smells like (which could be a good thing…or bad thing…depending on your opinion). I happen to hate the smell (and prefer the smell of mink oil or neatsfoot over this…which should tell you how strong the smell is). The smell also sticks to your hands…for days. It doesn’t matter how much dish soap you use…it will not cut through this stuff on your hands. With those negatives out of the way, I have to say that this stuff is magic for reviving abused leather. I would never choose this to use on my everyday goods that are at least reasonably well cared for and cleaned pretty regularly. This is the emergency rescue stuff. It is so thick and so rich it takes ages to soak in and do its magic, but once it has it can revive even some of the most tragic leather. It turned this bridle into a solid schooling bridle (it looks nice enough now I might even use it at a show) with just one application.
If you can handle the smell Stübben Hammanol is a product you MUST have in your leather care arsenal. The Stübben cleaner is also a solid product, but is comparable to several other cleaners.