How to Clean Watches at Home (Ultimate Watch Cleaning Guide)

Watches are not only just a timepiece but also a fashion statement for men. They are also an essential accessory for men that complete ‘the look’. You wear a watch practically every day, and it becomes an extension of yourself. So, if you are passionate about your watches, then you will want to take care of them. One of the most important ways of doing this is to keep them clean. A clean watch flawlessly incorporates both form and function. In this blog post, we will talk about how to clean watches like a pro at your home.

So, let’s start.

With time and use, your watch can have so much buildup of dead skin and grease from the natural oils of your skin. That’s is why it is essential to clean your watch often if not daily. Your watches can last you decades if you take good care of them, and that means proper cleaning! Cleaning a watch is very easy, and you don’t need to wait for a professional to do it for you.

There are two parts of a watch that you need to clean: the watch face and the band.

Cleaning the Watch Face

Typically, any grease-cutting dishwashing liquid is perfect for cleaning the watch face. Fill a bowl with warm water and a bit of dishwashing liquid. Dip a Chamois cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush into the soapy water, and brush over the top of the watch face gently. Do not press down too hard or scrub vigorously. The idea is to loosen and remove the dust and grime from the watch face.

If there is any marking or crystals on your watch face, then work around them with a Q-tip. Dip the Q-tip into the soapy water first, then roll it around and across the watch face. Be gentle, so you don’t take the paint off along with the dirt!

If you own an heirloom or vintage watch, then take it into a jewelry store for cleaning. Watches created in the early 20th century may contain radium, which can be deadly. Do not try to remove the watch face and attempt to clean the dial, as this will require specialized tools. The inside of your watch face doesn’t get dirty since it is not exposed to air.

Cleaning the Watch Band

It’s essential to keep your watch strap or band maintained as well. Make sure that you have the right tools to remove the band entirely for detailed cleaning.

If you are cleaning the band while it is still attached to the watch, then you need to be careful with the water. Your watch should be at least 50 m water-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about exposing the case to water while cleaning. If possible, always remove the bands before cleaning so you can clean them thoroughly without damaging the watch.

Removing Strap/Band from the Watch

With some watches, you can release the band only by pressing the spring bar, but for other watches, you should look for the manufacturer’s instruction on how to remove the band.

The method of cleaning watch bands depends on material types.

The most popular watch bands are:

  • Leather watch band
  • Stainless Steel bracelet
  • Wooden watch band
  • Nylon banding strap
  • Silicone band
  • Titanium watch band
  • Ceramic watch band
  • Gold/Gold-plated watch band

Cleaning a Leather Watch Band

Leather is the most absorbent among all other watch band materials. You will need to clean the band quite often if you wear your watch regularly. Follow the steps below to clean a leather watchband.

  • Wiped down the leather strap/band with a damp cloth.
  • If the band is dirty and has an unpleasant smell, then add a dab of hand soap to the cloth.
  • Gently dry and buff the leather band with a clean cloth before reattaching it to the watch.

Leather watch bands are more susceptible to damage from sweat and moisture than metal bands, so use leather cream and leather conditioners to keep your leather band clean and pristine. Leather conditioner will keep the band moist. They also prolong the life of the leather bands and keep them shiny and soft. Always follow the instructions on the package when using a leather conditioner.

Recommended Leather Conditioners

Cleaning a Stainless-Steel Watch Band

Stainless-steel is the most prevalent metal in the watchmaking world. If you wear your watch every day, then give it a deep clean at least once a month. Follow the steps below to clean a stainless-steel watch band.

  • Wipe down the band with a soft cloth to remove the loose dirt and other particles.
  • Dip the straps into the bowl of warm water mixed with dish soap.
  • Use a smooth bristled toothbrush to remove the grime, oil, and grease from the gap and crevices of the stainless-steel band.
  • Be careful about applying pressure. Do it very gently, so you don’t scratch the metal bracelet.
  • Dip the band again in clear warm water to remove the soap.
  • Dry it with a soft cloth or use a hairdryer to dry it faster.

Cleaning a Wooden Watch

Wood watches are very trendy these days. Just like any other watches, a wooden watch gets dirty over time. If you wear your wooden watch regularly, then you should clean it at least once every two weeks. Follow the steps below to clean your wood watch.

  • Mix a teaspoon of olive oil (½ teaspoon) and lemon juice (½ teaspoon) into a small cup and mix well. The oil keeps the wood moisturized, and lemon juice cleans the dirt.
  • Take a Q-tip or a soft cotton cloth and gently apply the mixture to the wood part of the watch.
  • Once you have applied the solution, let it sit overnight or at least 12 hours, so the oil has a chance to permeate the wood thoroughly. It will result in much better protection and even water resistance.
  • Take a dry cloth and wipe off the remaining oil.

DO NOT use chemical cleaners, bleaches, orange-based cleaning solution to clean a wooden watch.

Cleaning Nylon Watch Straps

Cleaning a nylon watch strap is relatively simple. You can either throw them in the washing machine with your laundry or clean them by hand. If you are cleaning them in the washing machine, then make sure to use cold water, so the nylon doesn’t get damaged.

The main problem for nylon watch straps is the stain. If your strap requires a more intense cleaning, then soak the strap in a mixture of warm water (not too hot) and OxiClean. Leave the strap in the mix for at least six hours, and that should do the trick.

But if you wish to clean it with your hands, then follow the below instruction:

  • Take some warm water mixed with laundry detergent in a bowl.
  • Place the strap in the bowl and leave it for a few hours. Dirt should automatically come off straight away.
  • Now scrub the band with a soft scrubber or soft-bristled toothbrush to get rid of the tough stains.
  • Rinse the soap and dirt off the strap and gently press out any extra water.
  • Lay the strap out flat for a while to air dry.

Do not use a hairdryer to dry the strap. The heat from the hairdryer can melt the nylon strap.

Rubber absorbs sweat and oils. If the band gets lots of exposure to the sun, it can fade and crack. You can use a UV Protectant Spray to prevent your nylon watch band from breaking and fading.

Cleaning a Silicone Watch Band

Silicon rubber bands are ubiquitous for fitness watches. It would be best if you regularly clean them after every workout to avoid sweat buildup. Follow the steps below to clean your silicone watch band.

  • Wipe the band clean with a nonabrasive, lint-free cloth.
  • Rinse the band with water.
  • Use a lightly dampened cloth to remove any buildup of lotions and oils beneath the band.
  • Use a soap-free cleanser like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser or Aquanil.
  • Rinse thoroughly and dry well.

Cleaning a Titanium Watch Band

Titanium is durable and low maintenance metal. It is stronger and lighter than steel. Like any other metal watches, titanium watches need regular maintenance to look shiny and sparkling. Follow the instruction below to clean your Titanium watch band.

  • Fill a bowl with warm water and mix it with some mild dishwashing soap/liquid.
  • Take the band off the watch and dip it in the bowl. Allow it to soak for at least 5 mins.
  • Take the band out f the water. Gently scrub its surface with a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove dirt or any buildup from the skin and sweat.
  • Rinse the band under clean water to clear away the loosened dirt and debris.
  • Dry the watchband thoroughly and gently with a soft lint-free cloth.

You can use an acid-free metal polish for extra shine.

Cleaning a Ceramic Watch

The ceramic materials used in the watches are different than the typical ceramic that is used in pottery. Ceramic watches are durable, lightweight, scratch-resistant, and hypoallergenic. Famous watch brands like Rolex and Hublot use them in their designs. To clean a ceramic watch, follow the steps below:

  • Sweep the entire Ceramic watch with a soft cloth to remove any loose dust.
  • Spray the soft cloth with Windex or any window cleaner.
  • Wipe the watch gently with the window cleaner-soaked soft cloth.
  • Use a toothbrush to clean the dirt between the links.
  • Dry the ceramic watch gently with a soft dry cloth.

Cleaning a Gold Watch

Cleaning a gold watch is also pretty simple. Gold is a very soft metal, so it is easy to scratch a gold watch. With the gold-plated watches, it is best to take things gentle and slow, as the plating can scratch or rub off entirely if you go hard. To clean your pure gold or gold-plated watch follow the steps below:

  • Fill a bowl with warm water and pour some antibacterial dishwashing liquid (fragrance and dye-free are the safest) into the water.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a Jewelry cloth to scrub between the links.
  • Wipe off the soap residue with a moist washcloth.
  • If the rust or grime is too stubborn, then you can try some Jewelry cleaner. But only use them on the watchband, not on the case.

We also recommend Magnasonic Professional Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner for cleaning metal watches.


Can I clean my watch at my home?

Yes, you can certainly clean your watches at home. Just follow the instructions above. But also make sure that you have the proper tools for removing bands, jewelry cleaner, polish, etc. In some cases, if it gets a bit tricky, then you should refer to the manufacturer’s manual. If there is any issue, then you should give your watch to a jeweler for cleaning.

Can I use alcohol to clean my watch?

You should not use any chemicals when cleaning your watch. They can damage the polish of the watch and can also cause irritation to your skin. Alcohol and other chemicals will negatively impact the watch gaskets. For cleaning watches, nothing works better than a soft soap, warm water, and a soft toothbrush.

Do jewelers clean watches?

Yes, most jewelers offer professional watch cleaning services. For professional cleaning, you can also take your watch to Professional watchmakers or watch repair specialists.

Can I use toothpaste to clean my gold-plated watch?

It is a common myth that using toothpaste is an excellent way to clean your jewelry as well as gold watches. But this is false. Toothpaste can damage your gold watch. Toothpaste is abrasive and has a hardness of around 3-4 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Metal such as gold is softer, and 14 karat gold has a hardness of 2.5-3 Mohs. So, toothpaste can actually scratch and damage your gold watch.

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