cock confidence, reviews

Keeping a Leather Harness Clean

commando I recently got a new harness, the Commando by Aslan Leather, which has quickly become my new favorite (full review to come later).

Though I have reviewed and tried out many harnesses in the last few years, what I want and what I love to fuck with remains essentially the same:

  • as minimalist as possible, with as little fabric/leather as possible, because I like to wear it under clothes to have it ready
  • single-strap so it goes between my legs (and rubs perfectly on my clit while I’m fucking, which is what enables me to get off sometimes)
  • It should have interchangeable O-rings, since sometimes I like to fuck with large cocks
  • I don’t really care what material it’s made from, if it’s leather or vinyl or vegan leather or nylon
  • I don’t care if it’s locking buckles or D-rings

Really, it needs to be comfortable, relatively bare-bones, and able to get me off.

For some reason, I’m still in search of The Perfect Harness. I seem to have this idea that I just need one, really, and I’ll be able to use any dick I want, and fuck however I want. I’m not sure why I think I can get One Single Harness to do everything I want in a harness … it seems possible, when I lay out my requirements, but I have yet to actually find The Perfect Harness.

I really loved the one I’ve been using for the last year or so, which is a signature harness from Spartacus leathers . Unfortunately, especially with the last seven months and my very active sex life with Kristen, that harness has really seen better days.

[Warning: if you’re not the one usually wearing the harness, and prefer to keep the harness-perfection a mystery, I might ruin it for you with the rest of this post.]

The problem is, the leather has gotten very soiled. And I admit, I’ve been caring for the harness much like I usually cared for my nylon harnesses: washing with warm water and a little soap after using, unhooking the O-rings and using a nail brush to gently clean the leather and snaphooks, and hang it to dry. Here’s where the leather enthusiasts are probably laughing at me: yes, I know there is such a thing as leather soap, and in retrospect I probably should’ve been taking very different care of the leather.

So now I’m asking: how do you keep leather clean? Especially when it is, ahem, very close to very wet bits for very many hours in a week, how do I deep-clean it, get all the come out of it, make sure it doesn’t get that nasty musty wet smell so deep that it won’t come out?

Also, is there any way to salvage leather that is now a bit … dirty? Is there a way to deep-clean it?


Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

20 thoughts on “Keeping a Leather Harness Clean”

  1. Missy says:

    Try some white Fiebing's Saddle Soap and a damp cloth (or a round brush) to clean it. You should be able to find it at cobblers, leather clothing/supply stores, and even hardware stores in NY.

    As for find The Perfect Harness, why not just have it made? There are lots of amazing women who work leather and make custom clothing. It wouldn't be much more expensive than a harness off the rack, and you could keep getting it adjusted until it was perfect…

  2. Kissiah says:

    To properly clean, not sanitize, leather you need to have it prepared to be cleaned first. Barring this, wash it very well with a mild soap. I like regular ivory bar soap or saddle soap with a brush designed to be used with saddle soap, but don't get it too sudsy when using saddle soap, rinse well and let it fully dry. If you use ivory soap you can suds it up all you want. Then put mink oil on it daily, rub it in well just like lotion and let it dry in between coats. Do this for at least a week every day. Use another harness in the meantime. Mink oil will soak into the leather without changing the color if it's dyed well and will basically make it waterproof. The linings can be suede feeling if both sides aren't finished and mink oil doesn't work on that and it will change the feel of the unfinished leather so I'd avoid doing the lining with it.

    After it's prepared, just wash it with warm, mild soapy water and hang to dry after each use. Maybe once a year or two, put the harness up and mink oil it for a week again if you notice it's looking a bit dry or it's getting absorbent. This also helps bodily fluids and most lubes not stick to the leather as well, making cleaning that much easier.

    As always your mileage may vary.

  3. Raid says:

    I can’t help with the leather cleaning, but have you considered having a custom harness made at a leather shop? Some friends of mine did, and they swear it’s the only way to go. I’m sure you could give them a list of your demands, and after a fitting or two, you could leave with your dream harness!

    1. Kokoriko says:

      Hey! Very helpful thread – I am serving for these leather workers who make harnesses – can anyone link to websites, contact info for these fabulous people???

      1. Sinclair says:

        There are dozens of harness reviews in the Sugarbutch archive, and lots of links to harness makers in the sidebar.

  4. For renewing riding tack, neatsfoot oil is fantastic (after saddlesoaping). I should imagine it would work beautifully on a harness too.

  5. Skully says:

    hey Sinclair I was thinking that natural coconut oil would recondition the leather you can get coconut oil at any walmart in the vitimin section it is good for many things . Since it is natural and an oil it would help with the scent it has after cleaning it. My guess as to a cleaner for leather would be to try to find a eco friendly leather soap I am sure there are some out there…thanks for writing me back.

  6. i'm afraid i'm not much help on renewing leather (in fact, i need to read these comments too). as for the perfect harness, i'd like to mention "inhertube" harnesses. we got one recently, which i've been meaning to review. short version: it's great! it has no o-rings, so no interchangeable ones, but it's made of stretchy rubber, which gives it some play (can't really say how much, as our selection is limited in that department, but it seems like a good possibility).

  7. Laura says:

    Saddle soap on a damp cloth, followed by oil. That's what we do for my love's Jaguar harness, and it works like a charm. However, we've found it hard to clean around the silver or metal snaps, and they seem to be rusting a bit from wetness…

  8. you've asked the questions that have been on my mind recently … our leather harness is showing some, uh, evidence of its rigorous lifestyle. like you, i'm cautious about what sorts of cleaners or oils i want rubbing vigorously against my naughty bits, too. we've been using mild soap & water, and letting it dry thoroughly. i'll keep checking here for the growing list of recommendations, and will also do some research.


  9. JMc says:

    After use we throw ours in the tub to wash during the next shower. Body soap and a soft nail brush around the metal parts and small in-between spaces works great. Then hang to dry. Once a year, condition with leather conditioner, but only when we know it won't be in use for a couple of days so it has time to absorb well. After 8 years of use and care, its still like new.

  10. andy says:

    I too am having trouble keeping the metal parts my Jaguar harness rust free, especially those connecting the leg straps on the inside of the harness closest to my parts. I use a mild soap and occasionally oil the leather, which works great for keeping the leather nice. Really the rust is my big problem, I use a dry cloth to get most of the water off after cleaning, but that does not seem to be doing the trick, any thoughts?

  11. with regard to the metal parts rusting, i read somewhere that a coat of clear nail polish would do to protect them. haven't tried it myself, but it sounds logical.

    1. Ariel says:

      I use this method for my slight metal allergy when wearing earrings, rings and necklaces, and I can say that it works well as a barrier. I would suggest multiple coats and remembering to add a layer every month or so if it is often ridden hard and put away wet.

  12. Lauren says:

    leather wipes. they're meant for the leather seats in cars, jackets, etc-but they do a FANTASTIC job on harnesses, they're disposable, not messy like oils and they aren't incriminating sitting in your cleaning supplies cupboard.

    if you do'nt know what i'm talking about, they look like this:

  13. robin says:

    as a cleaning lady i think that you might try a ultraviolet light to see if there is disinfecting that needs to occur after you think you have it clean. use it in a dark room and see if anything ‘glows’, if so, keep cleaning. i would suggest steam. i would use a mild castille soap like dr bronners and get the tea tree version. tea tree is antibacterial naturally. wash with the soap, then steam it, dry it, check it with the uv. coat the metal with fingernail polish as another suggested. when all else fails, contact the manufacturer and ask them how it is supposed to be done.

  14. Sinclair says:

    thanks everybody! I'm trying some things, picked up some saddle soap + mink oil, trying to revive my dead harness and keep my new one clean and cared for.

    robin, I've been researching steam cleaning leather and it seems not recommended. it dries out the leather and can't get through it anyway. UV light is an interesting idea.

    looks like there's a book called Leather & Latex Care, which I'm going to try to get my hands on. will report back later on my findings.

  15. s says:

    Weaver wipes are a great leather wipe and will help clean your leather strap-on harnesses.

    As far as sanitizing leather, the UV idea is VERY intriguing. That had never occurred to me before! Other than that potential prospect, there is no way to sanitize leather 100% without compromising the harness.

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