How to Clean a Watch - A Step-by-Step Guide

Written by – Updated on June 22, 2024
water drop watch cleaning

A watch is a timekeeper, literally and figuratively. It holds both fashion value and sentimental importance - the perfect accessory or gift. But caring for a watch can be quite a daunting task.

This article offers an informative and comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to effectively clean a watch. From preparing your own cleaning kit, to removing the strap, to disinfecting the case, to drying the case, this guide covers all the necessary steps to properly maintain your watch.

We will also offer instructions on how often you should clean your watch, what precautions to take, and professional help sources should you find yourself in need. So come and let us show you the right way to care for your timepiece.

Short Summary

  • Prepare a watch cleaning kit with necessary supplies and understand how to remove the watch strap.
  • Clean the watch case and strap with warm water, mild soap, and a soft cloth or brush.
  • Clean the watch every two to three months for optimal performance and appearance.


To assemble a watch cleaning kit, you will need a cleaning solution, a soft-bristled brush, a microfiber cloth, and a bowl of water. The most effective approach to removing a watch strap is to utilize a spring bar tool to release the spring bar from the watch lugs, followed by a gentle pull to separate the strap from the watch.

Ensuring that screw-down components, such as the winding crown and chronograph pushers, are firmly screwed into place is imperative to prevent water from entering the watch during cleaning. Vintage watches and watches with leather straps should not be cleaned using the method outlined in the source section.

Water-resistant stainless steel watches are the ideal choice for easy cleaning.

Set Up a Kit

A watch cleaning kit should include a toothbrush, microfiber cloths, antibacterial wipes, and warm water. A toothbrush can be employed to delicately scour the watch band and eliminate any dirt or residue. Microfiber cloths are employed to efficiently eliminate smudges and fingerprints from the watch surface. Antibacterial wipes are an effective means of sanitizing a watch and eliminating any bacteria or germs present. Warm water is employed to rinse the watch, thereby eliminating any soap or cleaning solution residue.

The items required for watch cleaning can be obtained from most drugstores, supermarkets, or online retailers. If you do not possess a toothbrush, a soft-bristled brush or a lint-free cloth can be employed to clean your watch. If you are unable to obtain antibacterial wipes, you can use a hydro-alcohol solution or denatured alcohol to effectively sanitize your watch.

Remove the Strap

It is essential to consult the manufacturer's directions in order to ensure the correct procedure is followed when removing the strap from the watch case. It is recommended to follow the manufacturer's instructions for properly removing the watch strap from the case.

Depending on the type of watch, the strap may need to be removed from the watch case by pushing a pin through the strap or unscrewing the pins from the case. To avoid damaging the watch, it is important to use a special tool for this purpose.

Additionally, special care should be taken when handling the crystal, as it can easily be scratched.

Cleaning Procedure

It is essential to ensure the winding crown (and any pushers, if applicable) are securely fastened prior to cleaning a watch. The optimal method for cleaning a watch in a domestic setting is to use warm water and a mild soap. A soft cloth, dampened with soapy water, is the recommended fabric for cleaning the glass surface of a crystal object.

For effective cleaning of the lugs, bezel, and caseback, a soft brush should be used. To dry the watch case, a dry, soft cloth is the best option. After washing the watch case with soap, it should be rinsed with clean warm water. To ensure all traces of soap are eliminated from the watch case, it is necessary to refill the bowl with clean water multiple times.

These instructions are applicable to watches with gold, metal, and stainless steel cases and straps. For stainless steel watches, dish soap is the recommended cleaning solution, and chemical cleaners containing benzene or similar substances should be avoided.

Wash the Strap

Prior to washing the strap, it is essential to remove it from the watch case. A soft brush is the recommended implement for cleaning the strap. Rubbing alcohol or soapy water are the suggested cleaning solutions.

After scrubbing the strap with soapy water, transfer it to a bowl of clean water for rinsing. For optimal drying of the strap, a soft dry cloth or a hairdryer on the lowest setting should be used. To ensure maximum water resistance, it is important to ensure the strap is totally dry.

This process is applicable for watches with gold, metal, and stainless steel cases and straps. In addition, dish soap is the recommended cleaning solution for stainless steel watches, and chemical cleaners containing benzene or similar substances should be avoided.

Brush the Strap

In order to effectively clean a watch strap, it is essential to first remove it from the watch case. The recommended method for cleaning a watch strap is to use a soft-bristled brush or a Scotch Brite pad. It is important to take note of the direction of the arrow on the band links when removing the strap.

After brushing, a high-quality polishing cloth can be used to restore the strap's shine. Additionally, a soft toothbrush can be used to clean the crevices of the watch band.

To reattach the watch strap, the pin must be slid back into the watch case in the opposite direction of the arrow on the band links and then pushed in the direction of the arrow until it clicks into place.

Rinse the Strap

It is necessary to rinse the watch strap after brushing with soapy water in order to completely remove dirt and soap residue. Remove the watch strap from the watch. Then dip it in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 seconds. After washing, remove the strap from the water and dry it with a soft cloth to remove excess water.

Be sure to take care while cleaning a leather strap, as leather bands can be easily damaged by water or other chemicals. Additionally, it is important to note that water resistance can be compromised if the cleaning process is not done correctly.

Dry the Strap

It is suggested to dry a watch strap using a clean microfiber cloth or a hairdryer. When caring for a leather strap, it is best to avoid direct sunlight or heat sources and allow it to dry naturally in a cool location.

When drying a watch strap, it is important to be gentle and not stretch or pull on the strap. In addition, ensure that the watch is totally dry before reattaching the strap to the watch case.

It is also important to remember that some leather straps require special care, such as conditioning or polishing, and that some leather bands deteriorate more quickly than others.

Wipe the Case

For optimal cleaning of the watch case, we recommend using a soft, slightly damp cloth or a lint-free wipe impregnated with a hydro-alcohol solution. It is also advised to disinfect all surfaces of the watch case, including the crystal, bezel, dial side, caseback, and lugs.

If more stubborn stains are present, add a few drops of antibacterial dish soap to lukewarm water in a small bowl and allow the watch case to soak before wiping it with a clean microfiber cloth.

Gently wipe the watch case and remove any excess water with a clean microfiber cloth, then allow it to air dry.

Dry the Case

The optimal way to dry a watch case is to use a soft, lint-free cloth to gently remove any moisture. An alternate approach is to open the case back and allow it to air out in a dry environment.

If necessary, a fan can be employed to expedite the drying process of the watch case. Make sure to remove excess water with the cloth and allow the watch case to completely dry before proceeding.

Reattach the Strap

Ensure that both the case and strap are completely dry before proceeding with the reattachment. The strap can be removed from the watch case by carefully levering one end of the spring bar out of its lug hole and then sliding it away from the lugs.

The strap can then be reattached to the watch case by pushing the spring bar back into its original position.

If you are uncertain about how to properly clean your watch, it is recommended to seek professional assistance for watch maintenance, as well as advice on how to properly care for leather bands and watch bracelets.

Frequency of Cleaning

Regular cleaning is essential to maintain the performance and aesthetic of a watch. As a general guideline, it is recommended to clean a watch every two to three months. Indications that a watch requires cleaning may include the presence of foreign objects within the crystal or a lack of luster.

It is important to maintain a regular cleaning regimen for a watch in order to keep it functioning properly and looking its best. Cleaning a watch involves more than just a simple wipe down with a cloth; it requires a thorough cleaning to ensure that all dust and dirt is removed. This can be done by submerging the watch in clean water and brushing it with a soft-bristled brush, or gently scrubbing it with a microfiber cloth.

Afterwards, the watch should be dried with a clean microfiber cloth and carefully wiped with a damp cloth to remove any remaining dirt. Doing this regularly will ensure the watch continues to look and run like new.


Having a clean watch looks great, is important for its capability and performance, as well as increases its longevity. In this step-by-step guide, readers have found out the most efficient and safe method of cleaning their poses. Preparation before cleaning is essential - collecting needed supplies and instructions from the manufacturer regarding the strap should always come first.

Once the watch is ready to be cleaned, microfiber cloths and antibacterial wipes will help clean the case, while soap and soft bristled brushes should be used to professionally clean the sometimes forgotten strap. Lastly, remember to properly dry out the watch (with hairdryers and fans where necessary), to avoid any condensation or damage caused by moisture.

Timepieces are investments that need to be cherished and looked after - the frequency of cleaning a watch every two to three months ensures individuals can keep up with the maintenance of their valuable item. With that in mind, everyone can now be proud owners of shining watches at all times.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to clean a watch with alcohol?

It is generally safe to clean a watch with alcohol if done in accordance with Apple's instructions and ensuring the fabric or leather of the band is not exposed. Allowing it to dry before wiping can also help ensure the watch's components do not corrode due to prolonged alcohol exposure.

What do jewelers use to clean watches?

Jewelers use a combination of dish soap dissolved in warm water and ultrasonic cleaning to make watches sparkle and shine. By allowing the watch to sit in the solution for 10-15 minutes and then drying it thoroughly with a microfiber cloth, jewelers can guarantee a spotless, polished finish.

How do I deep clean my watch?

To deep clean your watch, start by mixing a gentle soapy solution. Use a brush to scrub the watch, then rinse with non-soapy water and dry with a microfiber cloth.

Following these steps will ensure your watch looks like new!

Is it OK to clean a watch with alcohol?

It is generally okay to clean a watch with either rubbing alcohol or disinfecting wipes, provided that you do so gently and avoid contact with any fabric or leather bands. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines before cleaning.

Always rinse the watch afterwards to remove any chemical residue.