Laundry, laundry, laundry. Never ends! What are the best ways to clean saddle pads?
Saddle pads are one of those pieces of equipment that can be fun! They can express who you are, and for shows they can carry your barn logo. All shapes and sizes, and colors, also. I like to have everyday schooling pads, and then some nicer show pads, maybe with a logo and definitely super clean and bright for the show ring. As it turns out, the show pads eventually become daily pads as I feel the urge to shop.
Most pads do just fine in the washer.
For everyday pads, it's really common to just take it off, throw in the washer and dryer, then use till it drops. For the most part, this is great! You will want to take a few minutes to use a jelly curry, stiff brush, or other secret tool to brush off all of the hair before washing. Removing some sweat, dirt, and hair will lengthen the life of your washer and help get your daily schooling pads cleaner. You could also pre-rinse in the wash rack with a power horse if there's some mud and muck, also saves your washer in the long term.
For the love of all things clean - don't polish the inside of your riding boots. And use only your ickiest disposable saddle pads if your tack is freshly oiled.
Be mindful of your detergent. Many are harsh and can cause skin irritations for your horse and lead to fiber damage. A more natural detergent, or "free" type may work better. A front load machine is preferable to a top load for getting your saddle pads really rinsed. You may even consider doing a longer rinse or additional rinse if you have a top load with those options. If I find that my saddle pads are still dingy after a washing, I will soak in some detergent-y water and wash again before drying.
You may find the dryer is damaging to your pads, in which case you may want to dry on a line or fence. I like to dry in the shade, as the sun's rays can be harsh if you have a colored saddle pad.
For show pads, the name of the game is white and white and white. (Usually.) So, after a wearing, tuck it away separately from other laundry. No use in putting muddy boots or polo wraps in the same bag as a nice pad. You may want to pre-treat stains at the show with a laundry stick, and wash when you get home. When you are packing for a show, grab a separate laundry bag for saddle pads and toss a stain stick in there so you know where it is at the show. Either way, a quick treatment with a stain stick, detergent, and one of those oxygen booster cleaner products will keep you show pads blingy. You could also add some baking soda to the wash for some oomph. For stinky laundry, add white vinegar to the wash cycle.
For cleaning western saddle pads, I find using a sheet or baby pad underneath them greatly reduces the dirt and sweat and hair. So you end up washing the liner and not the super thick saddle pad. A bit easier.
You guys must have tips, too!