How do I clean synthetic tack?
Lots of options here! But, it depends on what type of tack and what it's made of.
For synthetic saddles, I suggest following the manufacturer's instructions and using their suggested products. Most synthetic saddles are made of a cloth like material, which tends to more likely to soak up water and soap. Use soap and water sparingly with a bunch of elbow grease and cloths. For other more "pleathery" fabrics, you can get away with using water to clean them. (And I'm *hoping* pleathery is a word....) Sometimes water is all you need, sometimes you may want to add a bit of glycerin soap. As with all tack cleaning, the more frequently you clean, the less horrible the task is. Any pro Groom will tell you that tack is cleaned after every ride, even if it was a no sweat, no rain, no dirt or no dust trail ride. (Rule of thumb: if someone's bum hits the tack, that bad boy gets cleaned.)
This synthetic saddle is cleaned with a brush to get into nooks and crannies, and a damp cloth.
A stiff brush is great for working into the creases and tight spaces of a synthetic saddle.
I'm also a big fan of having one or two brushes in my tack box/tack cleaning supply for removing surface dirt and hair before you clean. For synthetic tack, you can go for a medium stiffness and thick density brush (either nylon or natural fiber works well here). Use this brush to really get the hair and dirt off, and then you won't need as much cleaner and water. I really like a nylon brushes for this purpose, it also works well on synthetic tack like girths. Nylon brushes are a bit easier to clean and faster to dry, and if the brush is stiff enough you can also use it on hooves, your jeans, and all of the horse and people boots at the barn.
This synthetic girth does well with a brushing and then a soak in a bucket. I also sometimes just hose it off! Girth covers are great, too, just toss them in the wash.
For other types of tack, often you can get away with a brush, a cloth, and maybe even just a bucket!! For example, a synthetic girth can be superficially cleaned with your stiff brush to get rid of sticky hairs. You can also give 'em a good wipedown (dried sweat looks salty and crumbly so you can be sure to get all of it). For super deep cleaning, bring into the washrack and power spray it. Be very aware of the buckles and stitching - which can be worn down over time by excessive water. Check stitching often!
I personally use a very washable girth cover over all of my girths, this makes cleaning the actual girth much easier! Just toss the girth cover in the laundry and let the washer and dryer do the hard work. For my previous synthetic saddles, I would use a seat cover (like the sheepskin kind that is attached with elastics) during the summer so that the seat would stay cleaner from sweat, hair, and general use by my bum. This also cuts down the amount of work you are doing, and they are also washable. Be sure it fits properly so the rider is not slip sliding around.
How do you like to clean synthetic tack?