A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Clean A Steel Watch Band

Stainless steel is a standard metal in the watchmaking industry because of its delicate surfaces and robust exterior. Many watches have stainless steel cases and bands, with finishes ranging from classic silver to brushed metal. While stainless steel is a rigid material, it still requires attention and care to keep it looking shiny and sharp.

smart watch with a steel band on wooden surface

Cleaning your watch regularly is vital for maintaining its functionality. You may know how to clean a stained rubber watch strap, but what about your steel watch band? How can you clean it?We’ll go over how to clean your stainless steel watch band so that it keeps its brilliant lustre and won’t get rusted or damaged below.

Why stainless steel requires special care

The polished design of your watch can fade over time. Dust and debris settle in the small gaps between the band, causing damage and even corrosion. Stainless steel watches, even those that are resistant to water, can rust if they are subjected to high humidity levels, saltwater exposure, or even just a lot of sweating.

If you have a dive watch that is often used in freshwater lakes, it will require some extra attention to keep it clean and functional. That is why it is vital to clean your band regularly to avoid damage to the inner pieces.

wet stainless steel watch with a blue dial

Cleaning your band: How often is enough?

Give your watch a deep clean once a month if you wear it every day. The most conscientious watch owners will clean their band daily, so a simple clean can be enough, just like washing your face and brushing your teeth before night.

Wipe down the inside of the band and the back and front of the case with a soft dry cloth. This will help remove any excess moisture or lotion that may have rubbed off your skin and onto your metal watch over the day. If you do this regularly, it will make your monthly deep cleaning much easier.

What you need to know beforehand

You will be using warm water and gentle soap in the cleaning method below, so make sure that your band is resilient to water. This method below should not be used on vintage watches (water resistance ratings degrade over time) or watches with leather bands (leather straps cannot be washed). Finally, before submerging your watch in water, double-check that any screw-down components, such as the winding crown or chronograph pushers, are securely fastened. 

stainless steel watch on a leather chair

How to clean your watch band step-by-step

Step 1: Remove the band from the watch head and set it aside to wipe it down

To remove buildups of dust and grime, wipe the band clean with a lint-free cloth. This can also be done with a paper towel, although a microfibre or chamois cloth will be more effective at removing the dirt.

Step 2: Soak the band in warm soapy water for a few minutes

You should use lukewarm water rather than hot or steaming water. The reason for this is that temperature changes might cause the band to expand or shrink, potentially allowing water to enter the watch and damage the sensitive components inside. 

Even the most durable and water-resistant watches can fail after an evening in the hot tub or sauna, and most watchmakers advise against showering with your watch on your wrist due to the exposure to water temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius. Fill a sink basin or a clean dish halfway with lukewarm water to clean your band. Most dirt will be removed off your band after a brief soak and careful wiping with a damp cloth. 

If not, you can add a little bit of antibacterial dish soap to the water. Dish soap is designed to dissolve grease, which is why it works on stainless steel to remove oils and debris.

Step 3: Scrub the stainless-steel band gently

To clean the crevices, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and be extra cautious when applying pressure, as a heavy scrub can result in scratches.

Step 4: Rinse well with warm water

To remove the soap, soak the band in warm water or run it under the faucet for at least a minute. If soap residue is left on the steel, it will tarnish and become dull over time, and so a thorough cleaning will help keep the freshly brushed surfaces looking new.

Step 5: Wipe with a gentle cloth to dry

You can air-dry the band, but for a faster alternative, pat it dry with a bath towel or a soft clean cloth, or you can also use a low-heat hairdryer. Your body heat will also help get rid of water in small nooks and crannies on the band if you wear the watch right after cleaning and You

Step 6: Add some shine and glamour

To freshen the surface, you can spray a glass cleaner on a soft cloth and wipe off the band to freshen the exterior. You can also dip a soft brush in the glass cleaner to gently wipe the band’s surface.

Alternatively, you can soak the whole band straight in the glass cleaner for around 15 minutes before rinsing it with clean water if you’re comfortable doing so. Once you’re done, make sure to wipe it down with a soft towel.

How to clean your band with an ultrasonic jewellery cleaner

Bring it to a jeweller for a brief dip in an ultrasonic jewellery cleaner for heavy-duty cleaning. These devices agitate the cleaning liquid with inaudible high-frequency sound waves, effectively shaking any hard-to-reach dirt particles.

It is recommended that you take it to the manufacturer or a competent jeweller or watchmaker for a full cleaning both inside and out. They can restore the watch’s original shine and lustre safely and securely.

Maintenance and prevention tips

1. Servicing

If you have a high-end Swiss watch that you plan to keep for a long time, the frequency and cost of professional servicing vary by manufacturer, but you should get a service for your watch every couple of years, such as removing scratches.

Toothbrushes soap salt and a towel

2. Avoid using harsh brushes

Many people would often rush to use ordinary household brushes to clean metal bands, so avoid this at all costs. Contaminants in old rusty brushes can harm valuable metal bracelets and bands. Stick with soft-bristled toothbrushes as they are gentle enough to clean the band without destroying it.

3. Keep an eye on the water resistance 

It is recommended that you test your watch’s water resistance once a year or before each period of intensive use in water to see if it is still up and running.

4. Avoid using vinegar and witch hazel

Household cleaners such as vinegar and witch hazel are often used in the kitchen. They effectively clean around the house, but they should not be used to clean your band. These compounds are corrosive and can harm the surface coating of your watch. 

5. Insurance

Yes, it is not the most exciting thing, but we are taking you down this road because your insurance might cover your watch strap cleaning costs. The cost of watch insurance, like any other insurance, is determined by the model and value of your watch. Prices usually start at under only £5 per month unless you have a drawer full of Rolex and Patek watches. Do your homework and make sure you have adequate coverage.

A beautiful black woman wearing a gold watch and jewelry

To sum up, clean watches are a shiny symbol of who you are. You would never wear the same pair of socks daily without washing them, would you? Now, let that sink in for a while. Your watch is exposed to different environments and so cleaning your steel watch band is something you should include in your daily cleaning schedule. Above all, give it a deep cleaning now and then to maintain its lustre!

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