Now that you have that watch you’re crazy about, you want to make sure that it stays in the best possible condition. So, it’s important to clean your watch every now and then.

Grime and dirt build up over time. First of all, It looks filthy. But it doesn’t only affect the watch on a cosmetic level.

Dirt on the tube can cause the crown to turn very heavily, for example.

It also adds a layer of grime to your leather strap. That will cause sweaty wrists because the leather won’t be able to breathe.

You also need to think about your water-resistant watch. Chlorine and salt water wreak havoc on the rubber gaskets of your watch so you need to clean it with fresh water as soon as possible if you wore it in the ocean or the swimming pool. If you don’t, the rubber gaskets will dry out and your watch won’t be water resistant anymore.

This article explains how to easily clean your watch and your strap or bracelet.

How do you clean a watch?

Water resistant watches

Water resistant watches are the easiest to clean.

Use water and soap (hand soap or dish soap for example) and a soft (tooth)brush to clean your watch. You could also take your watch with you while taking a shower and use your body wash to clean it. Make sure that the screw down crown is screwed down!

Properly dry your watch with a soft towel. You can also use a dust blower or a can of compressed air to dry hard to reach places.

Non-water resistant watches

Use a peg wood or a toothpick to remove hardened grime and dirt and use a soft toothbrush to clean the rest.

Don’t forget the hard to reach places because that’s where the dirt piles up! Underneath and on the inside of the lugs, around and underneath the crown, the notches of the case back etc.

You can’t use water and soap because the watch isn’t water resistant!

I often use one of those alcohol wipes that are commonly used to clean a pair of glasses.

While you’re at it…it can’t hurt to polish the crystal to make it look like new again!

How do you clean a watch strap or bracelet?

Metal bracelets

Metal bracelets are the perfect dirt magnets. Skin grease, dead skin cells, and hairs pile up between the links, underneath the end links and around the clasp.

It’s a good idea to clean your bracelet twice a year. Even more, if you wear it often or if you sweat a lot.

Remove the metal bracelet from the watch.

Use a proper tool! Invest $25 to keep your watches in the best condition possible.

You WILL damage your watch if you use a screwdriver, pair of scissors, kitchen knife etc. Especially if the bracelet has end links because they don’t leave a lot of room to work with. Use a watch strap tool with a small fork (3 mm is too wide) so you can reach in and remove the spring bar.

It’s very easy to use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean your watch bracelet and they’re actually not that expensive. You can buy them for around $50. They won’t be suitable for everyday use in the professional workshop but they’re fine to clean your bracelet every now and then.

You don’t need to fill it with fancy cleaning solutions. Hot water and a bit of dish soap work perfectly.

If you don’t want to use an ultrasonic cleaner you can also use hot water, dish soap, a toothbrush, and good old elbow grease.

Some people like to use a mix of water and ammonia and that does work. However, it’s aggressive and a longer exposure can damage certain metals or even discolor them. Just stick to dish soap to be safe.

How to clean your watch plus strap or bracelet

Toothpicks and an old toothbrush are very simple but effective tools to clean your watch and bracelet

Leather straps

Remove the strap from the watch. Again, use a proper watch strap tool.

Clean the leather with water and a gentle soap like a face wash or a PH-neutral soap.

Always mix the soap with water (1 part soap with 5 to 8 parts water depending on the filthiness of the strap). It’s important to dilute the soap because any left soap residue will clog the leather and this will prevent it from breathing. This means sweaty straps!

Leave the strap to dry. Keep leather away from direct sunlight and central heating because that will cause it to crack.

Use some leather grease to feed and protect the leather.

Sometimes I use leather wipes that combine a detergent with an oil so you clean and nourish the leather at the same time.

Do you have some more tips to clean your watch? Leave them in the comments below.

Founder & editor of WahaWatches. I’ve been collecting watches for years. My favourite part is to pull them to bits.