Fleece pads really help? Lemke

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Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Tanga » Sun Sep 29, 2019 1:10 am

In an effort to educate myself and continue to spur discussion here, here is a question I am sorting through.

So, if you read the other thread, I think I have made great strides in understanding how I ride better in a different saddle and what a good saddle does. So with my $300 Klimke I got off craigslist properly flocked and a good Lemke pad, that may be good enough, or not.

So I said Sheryl Lemke really helped me with this. I got one of her pads and it has fleece pretty far down on the underside of the pad, and she said it really helps the fit of the saddle and lets the back come up. She likes the fleece further down so it hits all pressure points. I think I did notice a difference just from the pad. Her pads are $150 versus the $300 Mattes. Six pictures down on this page you can see the pad.

So, I'd love to know anyone's experience with fleece pads and various types and if you feel it really helps and makes a difference. I've been riding over 35 years and honestly, I still can't tell that much difference in saddles or pads to bits or whatever. I just slowly try one new thing at a time and assess whether it is better or not. I don't think I've ever just tried something and had a viola moment of this work.

Please educate me!

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby blob » Sun Sep 29, 2019 1:54 am

I think no pad makes up for a good saddle fit. Having said that, I know "good saddle fit" is easier said than done even with a reputable fitter involved. It's hard getting something that fits both horse and rider--add in budget constraints (which most people have) and it gets even more complicated.

Right now, I am in a situation that is probably similar to your's with my pony. RP is a moving target still, so buying a new saddle for him didn't make sense with my budget. So, instead I am using a saddle I already owned and am doing 'corrective padding' to help make the difference. I have a saddle fit fleece pad that you can shim in three places (front, middle, and back). The fleece pad makes a huge difference. But it makes a huge difference because I am using it to correct a clear flaw with the saddle fit. RP is also very sensitive about fit, so small things make a big difference.

The only padding solution I tend to subscribe to generally is that I almost always use one of the really thin thinline pads. Ones that are actually just a thin piece of rubber/foam. They are supposed to help distribute weight. I don't know if this is true, but i've had multiple horses that seem happier with it than without it. They're not particularly cheap (if I remember correctly), but I've had mine for over 10 years.

Is there a particular saddle fit issue that you're hoping to use a fleece pad to solve for? Or are you just trying to see if there is something that improves overall riding experience? If it's the latter, then my experience is similar to your's--I don't think any pad really makes a giant lightbulb difference.

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby StraightForward » Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:45 am

I think serge panels on the saddle are the best. They are softer and mold to the horse's back in a way leather panels can't. I have two Black Country saddles with serge and the horses seem to appreciate them. Also, the saddle pads slip less.

I do use LeMieux merino lined numnahs on my mare Annabelle. I've never really used fleece before, but she is thin-skinned, and has some funky things going on with her back, so it seemed a little extra padding wouldn't hurt. Also, she is in my hoop tree saddle that was made for my previous horse, and is a little wide on her, so the fleece takes up some extra space. Overall, I think fleece makes the saddle fit a little more forgiving, as long as the saddle is towards the wider, rather than narrower side on fit. Also, it should help with breathability when used directly on the horse. I don't use fleece half pads because I feel like it's too much padding between me and the horse with all that, plus they don't work well under the regular pad, so a lot of the benefit is lost.
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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Tanga » Sun Sep 29, 2019 3:08 am

Interesting, blob. I had a saddle fitter come out when I was in my Wintec Pro. She had me try on a bunch of saddles with no difference. So she sold me a thinline and explained shimming to me. OK, seemed fine by me. Kept riding the the Pro with the Thinline until August.

I rode with Lilo at a clinic and she complained about my saddle and Sheryl Lemke was there, so she talked to me about the saddle and my riding and the horses' backs. I also tried a bunch of her saddles when she was at a show I was scribing at. I switched to riding in my Klimke, which seemed to help my back slightly. (Over curvature, and I lean forward to ease the pain, which I get called out on all of the time.) Went to the champs and Sheryl was there. She let me ride in her Magic for the first time in my championship classes, and I was using her fleece pad--four classes, two horses, same tack. I could feel the difference. It wasn't massive, but the main thing is I didn't feel the need to lean forward anymore. My one mare I didn't feel a big change in, the other who likes to drop in front, I could feel coming up in front of me.

She also reflocked my Klimke for me, where I could feel a lump under my right butt cheek. The next day I rode in championship classes in the reflocked Klimke with the Lemke pad. I could feel the difference. I would start to lean forward as a habit, and then sit up again. Both horses were getting better and better, two horses two classes each.

The last day I had one class each with both horses and I rode in the Klimke with the Lemke pad on one and had the ride of my life (2nd in USDF champ. class, almost 1st.) The other horse Sheryl let me borrow the Magic again and I used the Lemke pad and had the ride of my life (7th in a massively competitive USDF I-1 class with horses that were getting number one in the nation.) By then I felt no tendency to lean forward in either saddle.

So at the champs I had a huge ability to test. I like the Lemke saddle better, but it's a lot of money. It's not a massive difference between the Lemke Magic and the Klimke, so I was thinking the pad was also helping make a huge difference. I bought another Lemke pad to use at home and test ride, but I gave the horses the week off, so haven't ridden in it yet.

So, I guess I'm thinking through whether just a good Lemke pad with the fixed saddle is good enough, or I should really spend a LOT of money (more than my truck and trailer combined cost) for the saddle when good pads make my not perfect saddle pretty good. Would just the pad be the best to move them up to GP? I know the perfect saddle would probably make the point difference to move me up in ranks, as would help every day, lots of money and everything else, but is it worth it to really spend what I don't have? I have happy, sound, barefoot horses competing FEI regularly getting mid 60's moving to upper 60's. Do I need it? Or does she have an even better saddle that would make a huge difference?

From what I can figure, the Wintec Pro was pretty good on their backs because I made it wider and I could shim with the thinline, but it hurt my back enough to hurt my riding because of the flatness of it that I always praised. The Klimke allows me to sit a little more so my back doesn't hurt as much, but it's narrower, so Sheryl thinks it's not the best for their backs, but she thinks her fleece pad helps. If I had money, I would buy her saddle in a shot and all of the pads I needed. (A local FEI judge here was at the champs, too, and loves her pads. I checked with her, and she says she loves with them, keeps buying more, and they are about half the price of similar pads.)

I'm just trying to find out if anyone knows anything. This is hard. There is so much marketing out there in all of this, and I read about people spending so much money, but it's hard to know what actually is worth it.

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Tanga » Sun Sep 29, 2019 3:10 am

StraightForward wrote:I think serge panels on the saddle are the best. They are softer and mold to the horse's back in a way leather panels can't. I have two Black Country saddles with serge and the horses seem to appreciate them. Also, the saddle pads slip less.

I do use LeMieux merino lined numnahs on my mare Annabelle. I've never really used fleece before, but she is thin-skinned, and has some funky things going on with her back, so it seemed a little extra padding wouldn't hurt. Also, she is in my hoop tree saddle that was made for my previous horse, and is a little wide on her, so the fleece takes up some extra space. Overall, I think fleece makes the saddle fit a little more forgiving, as long as the saddle is towards the wider, rather than narrower side on fit. Also, it should help with breathability when used directly on the horse. I don't use fleece half pads because I feel like it's too much padding between me and the horse with all that, plus they don't work well under the regular pad, so a lot of the benefit is lost.


What a serge panel? With these pads because of the way they fit, it didn't feel like a lot between me and the horses. It actually felt like I was deeper into them (which always worries me because I'm not a small person and I don't want to dig into the horses' backs, but they both seemed to like it.)

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Chisamba » Sun Sep 29, 2019 3:51 am

Do you have a glass table?. Put your pad fleece down on a glass table, and put weight on it. You will need to lie upside down under the glass and have someone put their hand on it with some pressure and move like a rider might in sitting trot.

I had one very well reputed saddle fitter tell me fleece blinds and pills under pressure and movement. I had one tell me horses like fleece, so I did a bit of personal, statistically insignificant research. I did the glass table pressure research. The fleece insoles test, and tried a similarly shimmed 3 channel pad fleece versus non fleece on my difficult to fit horse.

I went with non fleece. Having said that, a client was using a memory foam, and I shimmed my fleece pad to fit her horses difficult back, and the fleece was definitely better than memory foam.

Also in my experience modern saddle fitters will say the older saddles were too narrow in the gullet. However on some horses a wide gullet is too unstable side to side and it causes painful shifting. So some horses like a narrower gullet.

That said, most horses go better if their rider is comfortable.

I very much like pads that have 3 separate zones you can shim. I Like the wool shims.

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby StraightForward » Sun Sep 29, 2019 4:49 am

Tanga wrote:
StraightForward wrote:I think serge panels on the saddle are the best. They are softer and mold to the horse's back in a way leather panels can't. I have two Black Country saddles with serge and the horses seem to appreciate them. Also, the saddle pads slip less.

I do use LeMieux merino lined numnahs on my mare Annabelle. I've never really used fleece before, but she is thin-skinned, and has some funky things going on with her back, so it seemed a little extra padding wouldn't hurt. Also, she is in my hoop tree saddle that was made for my previous horse, and is a little wide on her, so the fleece takes up some extra space. Overall, I think fleece makes the saddle fit a little more forgiving, as long as the saddle is towards the wider, rather than narrower side on fit. Also, it should help with breathability when used directly on the horse. I don't use fleece half pads because I feel like it's too much padding between me and the horse with all that, plus they don't work well under the regular pad, so a lot of the benefit is lost.


What a serge panel? With these pads because of the way they fit, it didn't feel like a lot between me and the horses. It actually felt like I was deeper into them (which always worries me because I'm not a small person and I don't want to dig into the horses' backs, but they both seemed to like it.)


It is a wool felt on the underside of the saddle instead of leather covering the panels (the sweat flaps are covered with it too).

http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/2010/1 ... ility.html
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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Tanga » Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:43 am

[/quote]
It is a wool felt on the underside of the saddle instead of leather covering the panels (the sweat flaps are covered with it too).

http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/2010/1 ... ility.html[/quote]

Interesting. It makes sense, and from what Sheryl said, goes along with her ideas. I wonder why I have never seen it and very few saddle makers do.

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Tanga » Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:48 am

Chisamba wrote:Do you have a glass table?. Put your pad fleece down on a glass table, and put weight on it. You will need to lie upside down under the glass and have someone put their hand on it with some pressure and move like a rider might in sitting trot.

I had one very well reputed saddle fitter tell me fleece blinds and pills under pressure and movement. I had one tell me horses like fleece, so I did a bit of personal, statistically insignificant research. I did the glass table pressure research. The fleece insoles test, and tried a similarly shimmed 3 channel pad fleece versus non fleece on my difficult to fit horse.

I went with non fleece. Having said that, a client was using a memory foam, and I shimmed my fleece pad to fit her horses difficult back, and the fleece was definitely better than memory foam.

Also in my experience modern saddle fitters will say the older saddles were too narrow in the gullet. However on some horses a wide gullet is too unstable side to side and it causes painful shifting. So some horses like a narrower gullet.

That said, most horses go better if their rider is comfortable.

I very much like pads that have 3 separate zones you can shim. I Like the wool shims.


Interesting. No glass table. From what I was told and what my reading of the expensive pads say, the good quality fleece doesn't pill. That was my worry--fleece against the horse! But the FEI judge who bought more and more says no and she loves them.

I am learning a lot, but I don't know that it's not making me more confused! I do have the thinline pad with three separate shims and was playing with it slightly every day. So now I'm going to have to play with the fleece pad under the reflocked Klimke and the thinline pad under the reflocked Klimke and see if I notice anything.

I think I guess we all need to keep trying.

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Chisamba » Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:53 am

So I am up all night and have access to some medical studies relating to pressure sores as some of my clients are in wheelchairs.

In the studies using medical sheepskin, the greatest drop out rate ( people voluntarily leaving the study) were to heat discomfort, so increased heat was an issue. ( I though that was interesting because of the hit conditions some ride in)

Patients mostly found it more comfortable to be on sheepskin than their standard bed or equipment.

The difference in pressure sores could not be relied upon because it was noticed that the nurses being observed in the study were much more diligent about the care ( assisting lo patients to move etc) than the control group. Which was also interesting to me, which made me wonder if humans buying an expensive pad are more diligent in the placement and saddle fit.

Lol just things I think about at the tail end of a 12 hour shift. And yes , I'm not supposed to be on my phone.

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby blob » Sun Sep 29, 2019 1:30 pm

I'm not sure what part of the country you're in, but I'm in the humid south and two different fitters said Serge panels down here can be a mess since they won't dry reliably between days unless you have a climate controlled tack room and are likely to get mold.


Tanga, it sounds like the biggest difference the saddles you tried made was in your position. And of course, if you sit differently, your horse will feel different. I don't think padding will change the way you sit. But you can probably find a budget saddle that supports you better than what you have. You brought up the wintec pro, but have you tried the Isabelle? There also of course lots of others that might be more comfortable for you. The hard thing of course is that it's not easy to find a place you can try a bunch but perhaps there is a good used tack store within driving distance?

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Tanga » Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:54 pm

More interesting ideas! I'm sure weather has a factor in it all. I'm lucky in the west coast of CA where we don't have humidity, so not the mold and wetness problems of other places.

Blob, you are right. The biggest difference was my position. My problem, also, is that I really don't know if the saddle fits the horses' backs the best or is hindering it. I have people saying their backs will fluff up and put 3/4 inches on if I find the right saddle. Am I making it harder for them because it's not the best? Am I just making it better for me, but being bad to my horses??? Ahhh!!!

I have not tried the Isabel, but that's a good idea. I like the Pro because it's open and flat and did not sit down on their backs, but that hurt my back (though not as bad as the Bates Innova.) But Sheryl explained a good saddle fit can feel like sitting down but now put pressure in one spot on the back. Hmmm. I wonder if I can find one to try out. That's the hard part! The Pro was easy because I knew it was OK, so if I just found one I could buy it. You're getting me on the hunt, again.

Chisamba, I love your experiments. I sleep bad, too, with a sore back have hot flashes, so have been looking for ways to sleep. I love cushy beds but they are too hot for me. I'm not able to try sheepskin because that would be too expensive, but I wonder if it would work. I did try a feather bed blanket and put it under me. Despite the feathers sticking into me, it was actually cooler (I tried because I found out that my feather pillow was cooler) and the cushiness made me sleep better.

One more question for anyone who has used a sheepskin against the back. How do you clean it? The answers I got were you can just put it in the wash or hose it off. Apparently the fleece doesn't turn into a pilled mess. I'm trying to imagine how it will hold up after many rides. The white one I bought I just hosed off, but I don't know how I'm going to be able to keep the white part white.

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby StraightForward » Sun Sep 29, 2019 8:52 pm

My pads are wool fleece but not on a skin backing, so I wash with a mild detergent and air dry them every few rides. I bought black so I wouldn't worry about stains. I use a stiff horse brush to bring the pile back up once they're dry, and vacuum with a shop vac if they get lots of hair in them. I treat my sheepskin girth covers the same way, though I get more uses out of them between washing. Taking a brush to anything that is matted from sweat after riding helps a lot to extend the time between washings.
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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby piedmontfields » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:03 pm

What did Sheryl Lemke think of the fit? I would think that is worth considering.

IMHO, getting a good saddle (good for you and your position, good for the horse) is worth it in this endeavor. Go used if you need to be more economical. Given that you have two horses on the west coast and went to regionals, I'm assuming you have a budget to handle a used very good saddle (under 2500) :-) Also let everyone know/good saddle sites and shops know what you are seeking---you never know who wants to clean out the barn/house.

This year I got a lightly used Trilogy saddle for ~1600. It was an unpopular model for its location (it was in a shop on the west coast---they are popular on the east coast), so it was discounted quite a bit from the usual 2000-2800 that I see online or in regional tack shops (Mid Atlantic and SE). It's worth shopping broadly if you have a very specific idea of what you want.

p.s. I did buy my mare a couple of Mattes custom pads with pockets for shims. They are very nice and wash up well with gentle detergent/air drying. HOWEVER---I would only recommend them in a dry climate, as otherwise I only get 1-2 rides before needing to wash them (I am in the very humid south). Like SF, I think going for a darker color is good (I think I got graphite?). I use them only during perfect weather here ~55-65 F so that I can get a week's use out of them before washing.

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Chisamba » Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:51 am

Tanga wrote:More interesting ideas! I'm sure weather has a factor in it all. I'm lucky in the west coast of CA where we don't have humidity, so not the mold and wetness problems of other places.

Blob, you are right. The biggest difference was my position. My problem, also, is that I really don't know if the saddle fits the horses' backs the best or is hindering it. I have people saying their backs will fluff up and put 3/4 inches on if I find the right saddle. Am I making it harder for them because it's not the best? Am I just making it better for me, but being bad to my horses??? Ahhh!!!

I have not tried the Isabel, but that's a good idea. I like the Pro because it's open and flat and did not sit down on their backs, but that hurt my back (though not as bad as the Bates Innova.) But Sheryl explained a good saddle fit can feel like sitting down but now put pressure in one spot on the back. Hmmm. I wonder if I can find one to try out. That's the hard part! The Pro was easy because I knew it was OK, so if I just found one I could buy it. You're getting me on the hunt, again.

Chisamba, I love your experiments. I sleep bad, too, with a sore back have hot flashes, so have been looking for ways to sleep. I love cushy beds but they are too hot for me. I'm not able to try sheepskin because that would be too expensive, but I wonder if it would work. I did try a feather bed blanket and put it under me. Despite the feathers sticking into me, it was actually cooler (I tried because I found out that my feather pillow was cooler) and the cushiness made me sleep better.

One more question for anyone who has used a sheepskin against the back. How do you clean it? The answers I got were you can just put it in the wash or hose it off. Apparently the fleece doesn't turn into a pilled mess. I'm trying to imagine how it will hold up after many rides. The white one I bought I just hosed off, but I don't know how I'm going to be able to keep the white part white.


the one think the study mentioned is that good sheepskin launders well, and was washed many times without losing its effectiveness! sorry i did not think that part was of interest ( because medical people really need clean stuff)

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Tanga » Mon Sep 30, 2019 1:45 am

Chisamba wrote:the one think the study mentioned is that good sheepskin launders well, and was washed many times without losing its effectiveness! sorry i did not think that part was of interest ( because medical people really need clean stuff)



Wow! Thank you. You are a wealth of information. I would not have thought that! I'm being kind of paranoid about how I'm going to keep the daily one some level of clean. I can't imagine bleach would be OK, though, and HOW does one keep a white pad white? I have tried other things to little effect==scrubbing in oxyclean, hydrogen peroxide.

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Tanga » Mon Sep 30, 2019 1:46 am

StraightForward wrote:My pads are wool fleece but not on a skin backing, so I wash with a mild detergent and air dry them every few rides. I bought black so I wouldn't worry about stains. I use a stiff horse brush to bring the pile back up once they're dry, and vacuum with a shop vac if they get lots of hair in them. I treat my sheepskin girth covers the same way, though I get more uses out of them between washing. Taking a brush to anything that is matted from sweat after riding helps a lot to extend the time between washings.


That's kind of what I'm doing because it seems to make sense.

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Tanga » Mon Sep 30, 2019 1:59 am

piedmontfields wrote:What did Sheryl Lemke think of the fit? I would think that is worth considering.

IMHO, getting a good saddle (good for you and your position, good for the horse) is worth it in this endeavor. Go used if you need to be more economical. Given that you have two horses on the west coast and went to regionals, I'm assuming you have a budget to handle a used very good saddle (under 2500) :-) Also let everyone know/good saddle sites and shops know what you are seeking---you never know who wants to clean out the barn/house.

This year I got a lightly used Trilogy saddle for ~1600. It was an unpopular model for its location (it was in a shop on the west coast---they are popular on the east coast), so it was discounted quite a bit from the usual 2000-2800 that I see online or in regional tack shops (Mid Atlantic and SE). It's worth shopping broadly if you have a very specific idea of what you want.

p.s. I did buy my mare a couple of Mattes custom pads with pockets for shims. They are very nice and wash up well with gentle detergent/air drying. HOWEVER---I would only recommend them in a dry climate, as otherwise I only get 1-2 rides before needing to wash them (I am in the very humid south). Like SF, I think going for a darker color is good (I think I got graphite?). I use them only during perfect weather here ~55-65 F so that I can get a week's use out of them before washing.


The fit of the saddle? She thought it was good for both of them. But, we only tried the one saddle at the champs, the one I liked when I sat in a bunch of them when I didn't have the horses with me. She said she didn't want to go for one that might be more drastic in that situation, because that would have been crazy. She says she has some more coming in that might be even better. (If I could find one that I never felt my back be sore at all in, that would be a miracle.) But, also, there might be one that fits the mares even better. I'm still thinking. There are basically NO used Lemke Magic's for sale. I found one that was a bit small, 17.5, which is probably a bad idea, and basically what she was going to let me have it for. I might wait until she comes into the area to fit a lot of people and bring all of those saddles and we can see if the Magic is the one, or there is one better. I mean, am I still not doing what is best for the horses?

I don't know if I have the budget or not. Going to the champs with two horses was a massive expense for me. But, if I really found something that I knew was the best for me and the horses, I would find a way. I would LOVE to know what saddle actually fits, and then I would shop. I don't know! Like I said, another saddle fitter came about a year or so ago and we went through all of her saddles (I forgot the brands) and nothing made any difference, so she said the Wintec Pro with a Thinline was the best. If I had the stats for brands and sizes that I know fit, I would be all over it. I'm not going to experiment with buying a saddle that might fit again. I got a great deal on a Bates Innova that looks wonderful. It seemed to be fine on the horses. It took me awhile to figure out it wasn't me getting old and not being able to ride anymore, but the saddle didn't fit me and was killing my back.

Thanks for the pad info. It's a pretty dry climate here, so I think I'm lucky that way. If you like the Mattes, you might want to look into the Lemke. It's about half the price. I got on them both and rode today for the first time back, both in the snaffle and the Klimke and the Mattes. It was pretty amazing. I got some great work through the back and lightness in front, and I tried some one tempis for the first time in a long time on the older one and she did fine, and she did her usually great p/p. Maybe the pad?!!? :)

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Re: Fleece pads really help? Lemke

Postby Chisamba » Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:38 am

They recommend peroxide to treat stains. 3% peroxide diluted one part to three parts, treat, then launder with warm water, not hot, and spin but dry flat.


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