You’d never wear the same pair of socks every day without washing them. The same goes with shirts and just about everything else we put on our bodies. However, there’s often one exception: a watch Opens a New Window. —specifically the strap. Just like any other material, your watch strap can get dirty, smell, and even be ruined without proper cleanings.
Here’s how to safely clean your watch bracelet or strap at home.
Noted: Please be careful of your watch to avoid the water inside, scratches or damage when you’re cleaning.
Step 1: Separate the band
If you have a removable band on your watch, it is a good idea to separate it from the face and the mechanical part of the watch for the cleaning. This is because you should avoid getting those parts of your watch wet.
If you aren’t able to remove it, don’t worry. You just need to make sure that you don’t damage to working parts when you apply the cleaner.
Watch Band style:
* Clean a Metal Watch Bracelet with Soap and Water
Most watch bracelets can be quickly cleaned with a polishing cloth. Work a polishing cloth in between the alternating links by bending the bracelet and rubbing the cloth against the grooves. This should easily loosen and wipe away any surface dirt.
* Clean a Leather Watch Strap
After you have removed the leather strap from the watch, gently rub a leather cleaner—a little bit goes a long way—into the leather strap with a clean, lint-free cloth. Always do a patch test in a discreet area of the watch strap before using it all over.
To preserve the integrity of your leather watch strap, limit the number of times you clean it with a leather cleaner. Heavy duty leather cleaners like saddle soap can soften (and eventually weaken) the leather so do not use it more than twice a year. Instead, get in the habit of regularly wiping it down with a soft, lint-free cloth and swiping a damp cloth over it when you need a deeper clean.
* Clean an Exotic Leather Watch Strap
Although saddle soap is a reliable cleaning agent for smooth calfskin leather, skip it if you have an exotic leather watch strap. Saddle soap can get trapped in the thin grooves of a textured alligator, crocodile or lizard leather strap, leaving behind a white crust. Instead, use a cleaning product specifically made for exotic leather.
Beeswax is an alternative gentle cleaner. Simply rub the beeswax onto the watch strap with a soft, lint-free cloth. Let the strap dry away from direct sunlight. Once dry, buff it with a soft cloth. But, before you coat your alligator watch strap in beeswax, do a patch test in a discreet area of the watch strap to ensure it does not discolor the leather.
If you’re nervous about cleaning the exotic leather, safe yourself the stress and bring it to a professional watchmaker for a safe cleaning.
* Clean a NATO Watch Strap
A fabric NATO strap is the easiest watch strap to clean—lucky you. Simply use a little mild dish soap and warm water and gently scrub the strap. Rinse it thoroughly and set it on a flat surface, away from direct sunlight, to air dry.
Do not use any kind of heater or hair dryer to try and expedite the drying process. You run a serious risk of melting or burning the strap. Be patient and let it just air dry.
Step 2: Choose a cleanser
You should use a mild soap or rubbing alcohol for most types of watches. If you have a gold watch, or it is made of silver or a platinum material, you might consider using a small amount of jewelry cleaner. Using water alone is not going to be very effective.
If you do use some water, make sure that it is mixed with a mild soap (such as dish soap) and don’t get the inside wet.
Step 3: Use a soft cloth or a soft toothbrush
Don’t use a scrubber sponge, a hard bristle toothbrush or paper towel. Abrasive materials can add scratches to your watch that you don’t want. Make sure that you use a soft material to wipe away stains, oils and germs. Rub gently in a circular motion to clean your watch.
Step 4: Make sure it’s dry
It is important to make sure that you remove all of the moisture from the band of the watch, and any other part of the watch that may have gotten wet. Even though you do not use very much liquid during the cleaning process, you will want to make sure that there isn’t any moisture left.
If you leave it wet, mildew might develop, and you don’t want that on your watch! Also, depending on the material it is made out of, wetness can cause rust. Make sure that you take a smooth, dry cloth and dry your watch well.
That is all. Now you can put your watch band back on and wear your watch. You might want to leave it alone for a while since you put the work into cleaning it, however. Anyway, that is all there is to it, and you can clean your watch every couple of months to keep it shiny and nice.
By the way, To clean the inner workings, take the watch to a professional.