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8 Steps On How To Clean Your Watch At Home

Cleaning your watch is an important part of maintaining the quality of your timepiece. 

But you’re probably asking yourself…How can I clean my watch at home?

In this blog post we’ll lay out the steps on how to clean your watch at home.

Watches of course can get pretty dirty, so cleaning your watch is an essential part of owning a lovely timepiece. 

A clean watch can be a beautiful thing. So take a look at our guide into how to easily and simply clean a watch at home.

How To Clean Your Watch At Home

  1. What you will need to clean your watch
  2. Inspect your watch
  3. Remove the watch’s bracelet/strap
  4. Screw-down the crown
  5. Wipe it down with a cloth
  6. Very gently use a toothbrush/toothpick
  7. Dry your watch
  8. Deep clean your bracelet/strap

Cleaning Your Watch FAQ

How To Clean Your Watch At Home

Here are the steps to to how to clean your watch at home. We’ve added extra steps at the end for cleaning your watch straps too. Leather straps, steel bracelets, and NATO straps too.

1. What you will need to clean your watch

You’re probably wondering; what can I use to clean my watch?

Well, below are the items that you’ll need to clean a watch from the comfort of your own home.

I know it looks like you’re looking after a baby (minus the toothpicks!) instead of a watch. Yet, this is the ideal home watch cleaning kit that you’ll need.

How to clean your watch kit, includes: a kids toothbrush, wet wipes, microfiber cloths, and toothpicks
Watch Cleaning Kit
  • *Extra soft kids toothbrush
  • Toothpicks
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Wet wipes

*The toothbrush should be very soft, and used if possible, so that it’s extra soft. Make sure to clean this toothbrush and dry it fully before letting it anywhere near your watch.

2. Inspect your watch

Give your watch a good look over. Check for any damage, any scratches, or any marks.

Look at the condition of your watch and notice any damage that may allow moisture to enter. It’s critical to check for chips on or near crystals, as this could be a sign your watch needs a service.

Even get close with a magnifying glass to really make sure your favorite watch is in good nick.

3. Screw-down the crown

Close up of a screw-down crown with crown guards
Close-up of screw-down crown

Make sure to secure your watch before you start to clean. So this means securing the crown. If you have a screw-down crown, then screw it down now.

This will ensure that your watch’s movement is protected from any water getting inside.

4. Remove the watch’s bracelet/strap

If you have the tools and the knowledge on how to remove your watch’s bracelet or strap. Then go for it, to give your watch a thorough clean.

If not, don’t worry at all, and give the watch a good clean with it on.

5. Wipe it down with a cloth

First take the wet wipe, and give your whole watch a wipe down. Try and clean all over your watch for a minute or two. 

This should result in most of the dirt cleaned from your timepiece.

6. Very gently use a toothbrush/toothpick

*** If you’re worried at all that you might damage a valuable timepiece then skip the toothbrush or toothpick step. 

Some watches can scratch very easily, so best not risk it if it’s a valuable or sentimental timepiece.

Instead opt to clean it with just a gentle wet wipe.

Toothbrush and toothpicks vs. Wet wipes
Toothbrush & Toothpicks vs. Wet Wipes

Emphasizing the gentleness when it comes to using a toothbrush. You need to use a clean, dry and extra soft kids toothbrush. 

This will minimize the harshness of the brushing. Then dip the brush in lukewarm, soapy water and go very gently over your watch. Getting into all the nooks and crannies.

Never use hot water when cleaning your watch as this can cause water damage.

You can also use a toothpick along with a wet wipe. By draping the wipe over the toothpick you can get the wipe into all the watch’s crevices, and give it a good clean.

Be careful with both a toothpick or toothbrush as they can scratch your watch, can’t stress this enough.

7. Dry your watch

Microfiber cloth
Microfiber Cloth

Now the last step is just as important as the cleaning, it’s very important to thoroughly dry your watch.

The gentlest and most effective thing to use to dry your watch is a microfiber cloth.

Microfiber cloths are a watch owner’s best friend, as they are excellent at drying a watch fully. They also are great at removing smudges, fingerprints, and any other marks throughout the day.

It’s always great to have a microfiber cloth on hand.

8. Deep clean your bracelet/strap

If you removed your watch’s bracelet or strap, as outlined in step 4. Then now you’ll give them a thorough clean.

Depending on your type of watch strap or bracelet, the steps will be different.

a. Leather Strap

Leather watch straps

Do not soak a leather strap. Water can destroy your leather strap. If water gets into your leather strap it can cause discoloration, cracking, and can cause your strap to be ruined.

If water does get onto your strap. Do not dry it with a hair dryer. Instead wipe the water off quickly, soak up the rest of the water with a microfiber cloth, and leave it to dry naturally.

To do a deep clean of a leather strap we wipe it down first with a dampened cloth, with a drop of saddle soap or very mild hand soap. And move around in gentle circular motions.

Once cleaned dry it with a microfiber cloth. Then leave plenty of time for the leather to dry off fully.

After, if you like, use some leather oil or leather conditioner that will keep your watch strap supple and soft.

b. Steel Bracelet

Steel bracelet

You start cleaning your steel bracelet by soaking the strap in a bowl of soapy, lukewarm water. For 20 seconds to half a minute.

Then remove it and use a damp cloth to clean the bracelet more thoroughly. Be careful with a toothbrush or toothpick and avoid if you’re worried about scratching the steel.

Removing the spring bars and paying special attention to the clasps when cleaning is important. As some watch clasp types can trap dirt more easily. Also be careful of extra parts, and just be gentle.

After rinse your watch with lukewarm water to get rid of any soap.

Then once all the parts are cleaned, dry off with a microfiber cloth. Also allow the bracelet to dry off naturally before putting it back on the watch case.

c. NATO Strap

Vintage Rolex Submariner with a NATO strap
NATO strap on a Vintage Rolex Sub

Cleaning a NATO strap is easier in the sense that you don’t have to be super gentle with it.

You start by soaking the strap in a bowl of lukewarm, soapy water. Then take it out and use the toothbrush to clean the strap more thoroughly.

The toothbrush will help to shift the dirt more. Once clean then rinse the strap and leave it out to air dry fully before attaching it back to your watch case.

Cleaning Your Watch FAQ

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding cleaning your timepiece.

  • What is the best way to clean a watch?
  • How often should I clean my watch?
  • How do you clean a luxury watch?

What is the best way to clean a watch?

The best way to clean your watch is by being gentle and using gentle products.

The most basic at home cleaning kit you need are some wet wipes and microfiber cloths. These basic items are a great way to clean a watch.

You can add an extra soft kids toothbrush, and toothpicks, if you have a tough watch that needs a more thorough clean. But be careful as these items can scratch. If in doubt do not use them!

How often should I clean my watch?

How often you should clean your watch does depend on how often you wear your timepiece.

If you wear your watch regularly then your watch should be cleaned at least once a week, with  a deep clean needed once a month at least.

You must remember that your watch is worn close to your skin for hours everyday. So it needs to be cleaned like any item that we wear on a regular basis.

How do you clean a luxury watch?

You clean a luxury watch with great care. Luxury watches are high value items. You never want to be overly rough while cleaning and cause the watch to decline in value.

Gentle wet wipes and microfiber cloths are ideal to use when cleaning a luxury watch.

If your luxury timepiece needs a more thorough clean, then taking it to a professional for a service is a great idea.

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