The struggle can most definitely be real when it comes to the vast amounts of leather goods we choose to keep in our possessions. Nevermind the sheer cost, but why haven’t we evolved to easier-to-clean materials? I know, I know – nothing really beats the smell or the feel of a truly rich leather bridle, or the pillow-top feel of a calfskin saddle…but I’m still going to complain (a little).

So, suffice it to say that I am not one of those die-hard tack cleaning riders. I mean, yes I take care of my tack and I take pride in having clean and organized belongings, but I really, really despise the act of cleaning tack. Shall I list some reasons why?

  1. I hate the feeling of my hands being sticky for the rest of the day after I finish using whatever tacky product I have on hand.
  2. Often (with some products, not all), I don’t actually feel like the product is giving my tack a true deep clean. Sometimes, it feels like it’s more just sticking a film on top than anything else.

I could continue, but this is a positive blog.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Teal Shoop, the mind behind Sterling Essentials, which is a newer cleaning and conditioning product I hadn’t previously heard of.

PS: If you appreciate bad-ass businesswomen and could use a bit of advice and motivation, check out this interview with Teal.

Let me preface by saying, I’m not usually an easy sell. I mean, I’m all for trying new things, but I usually get fairly set in my ways – I think you could truthfully say that about a lot of riders, honestly.

Let’s get to the skinny on Sterling. Teal actually experienced many of the same frustrations I voiced regarding the plethora of cleaning products on the market – which is one reason why she decided to just make her own product.

Borne out of a need to protect leather from the varying Pacific Northwest weather, Teal and her team experimented with different formulas before landing on their current product, which features “simple, natural ingredients, such as high grade beeswax, food grade natural oils, and top of the line therapeutic essential oils.”

The first thing that caught my attention was the luxurious smell of the cleaner and conditioner, which are both available in three equally lovely scents: Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Floral Citrus. I kid you not, I wanted to take home some of the conditioner and just set it on my desk for air-freshening purposes (I may or may not have actually done this, I have no further comment).

OK, I thought, I’ll try it. Teal sent me on my way with a few samples of the Leather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner, and I made a note to test out the products on my next cleaning adventure.

I needed to clean up a bridle that I had decided to sell, as it had just been collecting dust in my garage during my hiatus from riding. I’d cleaned it before, obviously, but sitting in a garage will make anything look a bit dingy after awhile.

I was by far the most impressed with the lack of film or tack left behind on my hands (and on the bridle!) after I was finished. Even after using both products, I was simply able to wash my hands to get rid of the dirty leftovers and I was left with a clean slate. Trust me – this was definitely a first for me.

Second (and, I know, most importantly), my bridle really did look awesome. It may not have been sitting in months of filth, but I do appreciate a nice, shiny product, and this definitely did the trick. My next project (which you can watch over on the Heels Down Magazine Instagram story) was be my older tall boots, which have also been sitting for a bit. These are definitely a bit more worse for the wear, so it will be a great test. Now that we’ve established the fact that Sterling does in fact work well and leaves little to no residue, I’m interested to see how it fares against a more daunting task (Hint: I was a happy camper!).

But overall? I really hadn’t found a brand to be loyal to in this niche, but I’m going to have to add Sterling Essentials to the top of that new list after using it. Plus, I was able to get away with only using a small amount of both products (though I do tend to get a bit liberal with my conditioner) and a damp sponge, which means that the full-size product will last me quite awhile.

If you’re not quite convinced, I get it! With so many options out there, it’s hard to figure out what’s best without physically trying all of them. But Teal’s one step ahead of you, and she’s got sample packs available for a low price, which means you can try Sterling Essentials out.