Watch Cleaning 101: How to Properly Care for Yours

If you regularly wear a watch or purchase one secondhand, it'll need cleaning. In this video, Zen Love explains how to clean a watch the right way, plus some things to absolutely avoid doing.

If you wear a watch regularly, it will get dirty. The oils and sweat and other materials from your skin, plus dust and hair (and more) will begin to collect in corners and hinges and even on the surface of the bracelet or caseback. It's not necessary to clean very often – even every few years is probably adequate. (If you wear your watch in salt water, you should rinse it right away afterward.) If you purchase a watch secondhand, it may also require a good cleaning before you'll want to wear it.

The most important thing to consider before you even begin cleaning a watch is whether you feel comfortable submerging yours in water – true dive watches can obviously handle being underwater, but more delicate pieces like dress watches probably shouldn't get very wet. If you're not totally comfortable getting your watch very wet, don't – those watches should be cleaned professionally at the same time they are serviced. But if you're totally comfortable giving your watch a bath, here's what to do.

What You'll Need:

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Spring bar tool
  • Sink or container of water
  • Very mild liquid soap
  • Hand towel
  • Watchmaker Cleaning Sticks
  • Soft brush/toothbrush (optional)

    How to Clean a Watch:

    1. Remove leather and textile straps
    2. Get in the nooks with cleaning sticks
    3. Check all hinges and corners in bracelet extension and clasp
    4. Rinse in clean, room temperature water
    5. Gently pat dry with soft towel or microfiber cloth
    6. When dry, wipe down again with microfiber cloth
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