Proper cleaning and care of riding apparel are crucial for your safety, comfort, hygiene, and the overall longevity of your gear. Proper care not only enhances the performance and appearance of your equipment but also protects the investment you made in your equestrian apparel. Regular cleaning and maintenance can save you money in the long run by preventing the need for premature replacements. In this guide, we’ll share some best practices for caring for various equestrian apparel, from your riding helmet to your boots.

How to Wash and Care for Breeches

Taking proper care of equestrian riding breeches is essential to ensure they stay in good condition. Follow these steps to clean and care for your riding breeches.

Check the Care Label

Always start by checking the care label on your riding breeches for the specific instructions for that particular garment. Care instructions may vary based on the material and brand of your riding breeches, so always refer to the brand guidelines when available.

Pre-Treat Any Stains

Riding can get a little dirty! If there are any stains on your breeches, pre-treat them before washing them. Use a stain remover or spot-clean with a mild detergent. 

Helpful hint: Dawn Original Scent Dishwashing Liquid is as great for pre-treating stains as it is for getting your horse’s white socks show ring ready, especially for white breeches!

Turn Inside Out

Turn the breeches inside out before washing. This helps prevent fading and minimizes wear on the outer fabric.

Use a Gentle Cycle

Wash the breeches in a washing machine on a gentle cycle. Use cold water to prevent color fading and damage to the fabric.

Mild Detergent

Choose a mild detergent and avoid using fabric softeners, as they can break down the fabric’s elasticity. If your breeches feature suede patches or seats, be sure to use a detergent that specifically states it is safe to use on suede. Do not use bleach, as it can weaken the fabric and affect the color. 

Fasten All Closures

Before washing, fasten any closures, such as zippers or hooks, to prevent them from catching on other items or the breeches themselves.

Air Dry

Instead of throwing them in the dryer, air dry your riding breeches. The heat from the dryer, even on the lowest setting, can wear down your breeches over time. Instead, hang them by the waistband or lay them flat to maintain their shape. Avoid hanging them in direct sunlight to prevent color fading.

Avoid Heat

Avoid using excessive heat, both in washing and drying. High temperatures can damage the fabric, cause color fading, and affect the elasticity of your breeches.

Store Properly

After washing and drying, store your breeches in a cool, dry place. Avoid leaving them in direct sunlight or in a damp environment.

Check for Repairs

Regularly check for any signs of wear and tear. If you notice any loose seams or damage, address it promptly to prevent further issues.

How to Wash and Care for Equestrian Show Shirts

Ensure that your equestrian show shirts maintain their quality and appearance for a long time by washing and caring for them properly. Here are some guidelines to follow when caring for your show shirts.

Check the Care Instructions

Always refer to the care instructions on the show shirt as well as the brand’s recommendations. Different fabrics and designs may require specific care.

Pre-Treat Any Stains

White shirts are hard to keep clean in this sport! If there are any stains on your shirt, pre-treat them before washing them. Use a stain remover or spot-clean with a mild detergent. 

Machine Wash Cold

Unless the care instructions of your show shirt say otherwise, it is safe to wash your show shirt in the washing machine. Use the gentle cycle with cold water to prevent wear and color fading.

Gentle Detergent

Use a mild detergent designed for delicate fabrics. Avoid harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can damage the fabric and any embellishments or patterns featured on the shirt. If needed, use a stain remover to eliminate any stubborn stains.

Lay Flat to Dry

Lay the show shirt flat on a clean, dry towel to air dry. Avoid hanging it, as this can cause the fabric to stretch. Shape the shirt to its original form while it dries. Dry the shirt away from direct sunlight to prevent color fading. 

Iron Carefully

If ironing is necessary, use a low-heat setting. Place a clean cloth or a thin towel between the iron and the shirt to prevent direct contact. Be cautious around any embellishments, as high heat can damage them.

How to Wash and Care for Show Coats

Equestrian show coats are the crowning jewel of your competition look. Proper care is essential to maintain their appearance and longevity. 

Check the Care Instructions

As always, start by checking the care label for specific guidance on washing and caring for your show coat.

Spot Cleaning

If your show coat has minor stains or spots, consider spot cleaning instead of washing the entire coat. Use a damp cloth with a mild detergent to gently clean the affected areas.

Dry Cleaning

Many show coats are labeled as “dry clean only,” such as 100% wool fox hunting coats. Follow this instruction and take your coat to a professional dry cleaner. Be sure to point out any specific stains or areas that need attention.

Machine Washing

Many equestrian clothing brands are starting to make machine-washable show coats for convenience. You can wash these show coats in warm or cold water on a gentle cycle. Be sure to turn the coats inside out to prevent wear and color fading. 

All of R.J. Classics’ current show coats are machine washable, from their entry-level Blue Label line to their Orange Label line designed for the seasoned competitor.

Avoid Frequent Cleaning

Show coats don’t need to be cleaned after every use. Unless visibly soiled, frequent cleaning can actually contribute to wear and tear. Spot clean as needed and only dry clean when necessary.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

When drying your show coat, avoid direct sunlight as it can fade the fabric. Dry it in a cool, dry place. Hanging it on a padded hanger can help maintain its shape.

Steam Instead of Iron

If your show coat becomes wrinkled, use a garment steamer instead of an iron. Steam helps remove wrinkles without the risk of burning or damaging the fabric.

Use a Garment Bag

Store your show coat in a breathable garment bag when not in use. This protects it from dust and keeps it in good condition. Avoid hanging it in a crowded closet where it may be crushed or deformed by other garments.

How to Clean and Care for Your Riding Boots

Proper care of riding boots is crucial to ensure their longevity and to maintain a polished appearance. Here are a few easy tips for cleaning and caring for your riding boots.

Remove Excess Dirt and Debris

Before cleaning, use a soft brush or a damp cloth to remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface of the boots. Pay attention to seams and crevices.

Wipe Down the Boots

Dampen a clean cloth or sponge with water and wipe down the boots to remove any remaining dirt. For stubborn spots, you can use a mild soap or specialized leather cleaner. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the leather.

Condition the Leather

Leather boots benefit from regular conditioning to prevent drying and cracking. Apply a leather conditioner or oil that is suitable for the type of leather your boots are made of. Follow the product instructions and allow the boots to absorb the conditioner.

Polish the Boots

If your boots are made of polished leather, use a high-quality shoe polish in a color that matches your boots. Apply the polish evenly using a soft cloth or applicator brush. Buff the boots with a clean cloth to achieve a shiny finish. Cream polishes have become very popular as they allow you to get into the crevices and seams of your boot! Using a toothbrush can also help get to those hard-to-reach spots. 

Helpful hint: If you are ever struggling to get your boots looking as shiny as you’d like, try searching for articles on how military, police, fire, or other service members polish their shoes. It’s an age-old practice for them that they have down to a science!

Let Boots Dry Naturally

If your boots get wet, allow them to air dry naturally. Avoid using direct heat sources like heaters or hairdryers, as excessive heat can damage the leather and cause it to lose its natural oils.

Store Properly

Store your riding boots in an upright position, using boot trees or rolled-up towels to help maintain their shape. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. 

Helpful hint: If you have multiple pairs of boots to store, a boot rack that hangs the boot upside down (like THIS one) is great at keeping their shape and allowing airflow should they get damp!

Rotate Boots

If you have multiple pairs of riding boots, rotate them to prevent excessive wear on one pair. Allowing boots to rest between wears helps maintain their structural integrity. Consider reserving one pair for competition only. This ensures your competition boots are always in pristine condition.

Inspect and Repair

Regularly inspect your boots for any signs of wear, loose stitching, or damage. Address any issues promptly to prevent them from worsening.

How to Clean and Care for Your Riding Helmet

Cleaning and caring for your riding helmet is important for both safety and hygiene. Remember that your riding helmet is a crucial safety device, and proper care is essential to ensure its effectiveness. Here’s how to clean and maintain your riding helmet.

Check the Manufacturer’s Instructions

Always start by checking the manufacturer’s instructions that come with your riding helmet. Different helmets may have specific care guidelines.

Remove Sweat and Dirt

After each use, wipe down the interior and exterior of the helmet with a soft, damp cloth to remove sweat and dirt. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as they can damage the helmet’s outer shell. Stick to mild soaps or specialized helmet cleaners recommended by the manufacturer.

Clean the Interior Padding

Many riding helmets have removable and washable interior padding. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to remove it, and then wash it according to their recommendations. Use a mild detergent and allow the padding to air dry completely before reinserting it.

Ventilation Openings

If your helmet has ventilation openings, use a small, soft brush or compressed air to remove dust or debris. Ensure that the vents are clear to maintain proper airflow.

Avoid Excessive Heat

Do not expose your riding helmet to excessive heat, such as leaving it in a hot car or near a heater. High temperatures can damage the helmet’s structure and materials.

Inspect for Damage

Regularly inspect your helmet for any signs of damage, such as cracks, dents, or loose parts. If you notice any issues, contact the manufacturer for guidance on whether the helmet needs to be replaced.

Store Properly

Store your riding helmet in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid placing heavy objects on top of it, and use a helmet bag for protection during transport. 

Helpful hint: If you store your helmet in a tack trunk or locker, consider placing a moisture absorber & odor eliminator (like THIS one) nearby to help your helmet keep dry and odor-free (dryer sheets are also a quick and easy alternative).  

Replace After a Fall

If you’ve had a fall or impact, even if the helmet doesn’t appear damaged, it’s essential to replace it. Helmets are designed to absorb the shock of a single impact, and their effectiveness can be compromised after a fall.

How to Clean and Care for Your Riding Gloves

Cleaning and caring for riding gloves is essential to maintain their functionality, comfort, and appearance. By following these guidelines, you can extend the life of your riding gloves and keep them in good condition. 

Check the Care Label

Before cleaning your riding gloves, check the care label or any manufacturer’s instructions that may have come with them. Different materials may have specific care requirements.

Remove Excess Dirt

After each use, brush off any excess dirt or debris from the gloves. Use a soft brush or a cloth to gently wipe away surface dirt.

Hand Wash or Machine Wash

Depending on the material, you can either hand wash or machine wash your riding gloves. If hand washing, use a mild detergent and lukewarm water. If machine washing, place the gloves in a mesh bag to protect them and use a gentle cycle with cold water.

Avoid Fabric Softeners

Avoid using fabric softeners, as they can leave a residue on the gloves and affect their grip. Stick to a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics.

Rinse Thoroughly

Whether you hand wash or machine wash, ensure that you rinse the gloves thoroughly to remove all detergent residues.

Air Dry

Never use a dryer to dry your riding gloves, as heat can damage the materials and affect the fit. Instead, air dry them by laying them flat on a clean, dry towel or hanging them. Make sure they are in a well-ventilated area.

Re-Shape While Drying

If your gloves are made of materials that can lose their shape, such as leather, reshape them while they are still damp to maintain their form.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Dry your gloves away from direct sunlight to prevent color fading and damage to the materials.

Condition Leather Gloves

If your riding gloves are made of leather, consider applying a leather conditioner after they are completely dry. This helps keep the leather supple and prevents it from drying out and cracking.

Store Properly

Store your riding gloves in a cool, dry place. Avoid leaving them in direct sunlight or in a damp environment. Consider using a glove bag for protection during storage and transport. 

Helpful hint: If you store your gloves in a tack trunk or locker, consider placing a moisture absorber & odor eliminator (like THIS one) nearby to help your gloves keep them dry and odor-free (dryer sheets are also a quick and easy alternative).  

Check for Wear and Tear

Regularly inspect your riding gloves for signs of wear and tear, such as loose stitching or worn-out areas. Repair or replace them as needed to ensure your safety and comfort while riding.

Final Thoughts

Properly caring for your equestrian apparel may seem like a chore, but taking the time to clean and maintain your apparel ensures your investment lasts for a long time. It also helps to invest in high-quality riding apparel from a reputable brand–like R.J. Classics! We make fashionable, affordable equestrian clothing that’s made to last. No matter your equestrian discipline, you’ll find the perfect riding outfit with R.J. Classics.

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