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How to clean your watch

Whether you wear it everyday or just for special occasions, it’s important to make time to give your watch a bit of TLC with a regular clean. This not only keeps it looking good, it’s also essential for making sure it works well and keeps time effectively - as well as for general hygiene too (after all, our watches come into contact with almost everything on our skin, including lotions, perfumes and sweat).

How often should you clean your watch? 

It varies. If you wear your watch everyday, then a thorough clean, once a month, should keep it free of dirt and grime and keep it ticking beautifully. If you’re more of an occasional wearer, then a six-monthly deep clean is recommended. 

But no matter how often you wear your watch, or what type you have, you don’t need to be a professional to clean it. In fact, by following our simple steps, your watch will look as good as new in no time.

But where do you start? Here, we’ll run through our top tips for cleaning your watch, covering everything from the kit you’ll need to the best way to clean a fabric, leather or silicone strap. 

Watch cleaning kit

As with any piece of jewellery, you’ll need to follow a particular process to clean your watch. That way, you’ll be able to give it a deep clean while protecting it and making sure it continues to run perfectly.

First of all, take a look at the manual that came with your watch. This should give you a good idea of what you can and can’t do (such as soaking the strap in water, or how waterproof the watch mechanism is), as well as any helpful tips.

Next, you’ll need the proper equipment. Here are some essential items that will help you give your watch a thorough clean:

  • Microfibre cloth
  • Cleaning fluid
  • Cleaning brushes
  • Watch strap remover tool
  • Cape Cod polishing cloth

It’s important to always have two cloths - one (the microfibre cloth) to apply the cleaning solution and dry the watch, and one (the polishing cloth) for buffing.

Each of these products is safe and gentle and can be used on any watch, so you can be sure that your luxury timepiece will soon look as shiny - and run as smoothly - as the day you bought it.

Before you start cleaning your watch

It’s tempting to start cleaning your watch as soon as you have your kit, but there are a few steps you should take before you start:

  • Remove the strap
  • If your watch strap is made from leather, fabric or silicone, you’ll need to remove it before you can start cleaning. Just use your watch strap remover tool. If your watch strap is metal, you don’t need to remove it (though you can if you want to).

    If you’re not sure how to do this, speak to an expert. Alternatively, there are a host of great video tutorials available to watch on YouTube.

  • Prepare the crowns and buttons
  • You’ll need to push or screw in all the crowns (the winders) and buttons to prevent water or moisture damaging the internal workings of your watch.

  • Lay out your kit
  • Alongside your watch cleaning kit, you’ll need a dish of warm, soapy water (you’ll only need a small amount of washing up liquid), as well as a soft toothbrush for cleaning your strap (particularly if it’s made of silicone).

    Cleaning your watch case

    Now you’re ready to start cleaning your watch. Here’s our step-by-step guide:

    1. Spray some of the cleaning fluid directly onto the microfibre cloth and use it to gently remove any dirt, grease or grime. Use the cloth to clean the larger, flatter parts of your watch, including:
    • Face
    • Back
    • Bezel
    • Lugs (the parts the strap attaches to)

    You might need to use a little extra cleaning fluid, but only ever add it to the cloth and not to the watch itself.

    1. There are some parts of your watch, like the crown and buttons, that might be too small to effectively clean with your cloth. And this is where your cleaning brushes come in.

    2. Thanks to their different sizes and shapes, they’re perfect for getting into all the nooks and crannies, including:
    • The crown
    • Any buttons
    • Inside the lugs

    Always spray the cleaning fluid onto the tip of each brush, not the watch itself, and use a dry part of your microfibre cloth to remove any excess.

    1. Once all the dirt has been wiped or brushed away, use a clean, dry part of your microfibre cloth (or a separate cloth, if you have one to hand) to gently remove any excess fluid.
    1. Now it’s time to buff or polish your watch using your Cape Cod polishing cloth. Not only will this remove any streaks and brighten up the surface of your watch, it’s also a great way to buff out any fine scratches or blemishes on the face or the stainless steel.

    Cleaning the watch strap

    Now the watch face is clean and free from dirt, it’s time to focus on the strap. There are different cleaning methods to bear in mind, which depend on whether your watch strap is made from leather, silicone or fabric.

    If your watch strap is made from metal, you can clean it using the same techniques you used for your watch head.

    How to clean a leather watch strap

    Firstly, you’ll need to remove any dust or dirt that may have gathered on the strap, so gently wipe it with a soft, dry cloth.

    To remove any grime, dip a cloth into your warm, soapy water, wring it out so that it’s damp (not wet) and carefully pat the strap. The combination of a damp cloth and a small amount of soap will be gentle enough to clean your leather watch strap without damaging it.

    Once you’re satisfied, carefully wipe away any excess with a separate damp cloth, and leave your strap to air dry (you might want to leave it overnight so that it can fully dry out). Use a conditioning cream to keep the leather looking its best, and reduce the chance of it cracking (make sure you check the manual to find out which cream would be most suitable).

    Remember: don’t submerge the strap in water, or soak it, and avoid getting any water on the back of the strap as this can result in water marks.

    How to clean a silicone watch strap

    As with leather straps, you’ll need warm (not hot) soapy water to clean your silicone watch strap. Pop your strap into the water and, using a soft toothbrush, carefully scrub away any dirt.

    Once the strap is looking less grubby, rinse it in cool, clean water or wipe it with a clean, damp cloth, making sure any residue is washed away. Then leave it to air dry fully before attaching it to your watch case.

    If your strap has a few stubborn stains, try dissolving some baking soda in water and gently brushing the marks with a toothbrush.

    Remember: don’t make the water too hot as it can damage the silicone.

    How to clean a fabric watch strap

    Warm soapy water can also be used to clean fabric watch straps. As with silicone straps, you may be able to dip your fabric strap into the water, but it’s worth checking the watch manual first, or you may risk damaging the fabric.

    If you can submerge the strap, pop it into the water and use a soft toothbrush to gently brush the fabric and loosen any dirt or grime. Once it’s clean, rinse it in clean water to remove any soap.

    If you can’t submerge the strap, dip the toothbrush into the water and gently brush the dirt from the strap. When this is done, you can remove any soap with a damp cloth. Leave the strap to air dry fully before reattaching it to the watch head.

    And there you have it. By following our simple step-by-step guide, you can give your watch - strap and all - a deep clean from home, giving it a new lease of life.