The Right Way to Clean & Maintain Your Stainless Steel Watch

It's no secret that keeping our hands as clean as possible is critical these days. Given their proximity to our hands, it's only natural that we want to keep our wristwatches clean. A stainless steel watch requires cleaning both the watch case and the stainless steel strap. But if you’re a novice in maintaining your watch, you might damage some of the essential parts of your watch. That’s why we’ve created this basic guide on cleaning your stainless steel watch and strap.

Why does stainless steel require special care?

Stainless steel is a popular metal in the watchmaking industry due to its sophisticated surfaces and tough exterior. Many watches have stainless-steel cases and bracelets, with finishes ranging from classic silver to brushed metal.

While stainless steel is a rigid material, it still requires love and care to keep it looking new and bright. Regular cleaning is an essential part of keeping your watch functioning properly.

The polished appearance of a stainless-steel watch can begin to dull over time. The small gaps between the links of metal bracelets allow dust and dirt to settle, which can cause wear or even corrosion. Even with water-resistant designs, stainless steel watches can rust due to frequent swimming, saltwater exposure, or even excessive sweating.

Here’s how to clean your stainless steel watch:

  1. Wipe it down
    Start by wiping down the watch with a soft cloth to remove initial layers of dirt, dust or grime. It is best to use a microfiber or chamois cloth for this first step.

  2. Pour warm soapy water into a bowl and dip the watch
    Always use lukewarm water, not hot or steaming water (fluctuations in the temperature may cause the gasket to expand or contract), then add a drop of antibacterial dish soap to the water. Dip the cloth in the bowl and gently wipe to remove the dirt and grime from the case and strap. 

  3. Gently scrub the stainless steel strap
    To get into the crevices of the stainless-steel bracelet, use a damp, clean toothbrush. Use caution when applying pressure, as a heavy hand can cause scratches.

  4. Rinse the strap with warm water
    To remove the soap, rinse the bracelet in warm water or run it under the sink. Leaving soap residue on the steel can cause it to tarnish and appear dull, whereas a thorough rinse will help keep the freshly brushed or polished surfaces looking as good as new. Just be careful not to get water on the case.

  5. Dry with a soft cloth
    Pat the watch dry with a soft cloth, or use a hairdryer on a low-heat setting to quickly dry between the links.

  6. Add sparkle and shine
    To restore the shine, spray glass cleaner onto a soft cloth and wipe down the watch face, case, and strap.

How often should you clean your watch?

If you wear your watch every day, clean it thoroughly once a month. But doing it every day is even better. Your watch can benefit from a quick cleaning before bedtime. Wipe down the inside of the band and the back and front of the case with a soft cloth. This will help remove excess moisture or lotion from your skin and the watch throughout the day. Regular watch maintenance and care will make your monthly deep cleaning more manageable.

It's also worth taking your watch in for a professional service and cleaning now and then. An expert can remove scratches that your toothbrush cannot. A jeweler can also perform regular tune-ups on your timepiece, including gasket replacement to maintain water resistance to ensure it is in good working order.