How To Clean A Stainless Steel Watch From Scratches

Do you love watches? You certainly do. Who doesn’t? They are unique, shiny, with magnificent mechanisms and can be worn everywhere and by everyone. The problem is that you can damage them if you’re not careful enough. So, what then?

Closeup detail of a scrached stainless steel watch

Are you going to a professional jeweller or a certified watchmaker to repair the damage you made? Not quite. In this guide, we will show you how to clean your watch properly, how to remove scratches and how to polish it. In particular, we’re talking about watches made of stainless steel, which is by far the most common material in the watch industry. 

Does stainless steel need special care?

One might think that stainless steel is a rigid metal, and no matter how you treat it, it won’t break either it’ll get scratched. Well, that’s completely wrong. Steel needs love and care if you want to keep it bright and crispy. Over time, you’ll notice that the metal starts to get dull. If it touches human skin, it can also get dirt from sweating, leading to corrosion. It’s also prone to damage, from minor scratches to deeper scratches that need extra special care. 

How to clean your stainless steel watch from scratches step-by-step

There are a few techniques to clean the scratches from your steel watch case. From DIY methods to a bit more professional ones that need some specific tools. We will talk about both.

1. Use a jeweller’s cloth

This is not a simple cloth as it comes with a special powder on one side. This powder helps remove light scratches from steel. The other side of the fabric is clean so that you can use it for polishing. 

  • First, use the side with the powder on the scratches and rub the surface in a circular motion until the scratches are removed. You have to be a bit patient, but you’ll begin noticing some results after a while. 
  • Then use the other side of the cloth for the final touches.

This particular cloth is also known as watchmaker’s polishing cloth, and the powder is a red polishing powder. It’s a multi-use product, and you can use it for cleaning silver, gold and titanium watches as well. 

If you have deep scratches on your watch, you can use a soft cloth with a strong cleaner called never-dull. It’ll create a smell like polishing compounds and will remove any scratches quite effectively. You can use the jeweller’s cloth to remove scratches from the bezel, the crown and the case back. The only extra tool you will use is elbow grease, along with a pair of latex gloves.

Hand cleaning modern watch with microfiber cloth and Cleaner cream

2. Use a metal polisher

The metal polisher/watch polisher is a fantastic product to remove any scratches from your stainless steel timepiece. You only need a soft microfiber cloth, and you’re good to go. Let’s take a look at the process:

  • Read all instructions of the product carefully.
  • Put the polisher on the cloth and start rubbing in a circular motion onto the scratches.
  • Continue rubbing until the scratches are not visible.
  • After completing the watch face, move to the case back.
  • You can also use it on the dial.
  • Once you are finished, use a clean cloth to remove excess polish.

3. The classic DIY toothpaste method

You have to be extra careful when using toothpaste to clean your watch. Not all products are suitable for the job. Go with plain white toothpaste with a smooth consistency. Use a toothbrush to rub the stainless steel surface. 

Pro tip: Use a painter’s tape to mask off the rest of the watch so the paste won’t touch anything else apart from the metal.

If you have a buffing wheel, it’ll make your job almost effortless

  • Rub the surfaces until the scratches are gone. Repeat the buffing process if you still see scratches. 
  • After that, you can also dip the watch in soapy water. Bear in mind that not all timepieces are water-resistant, and their mechanism might get severely damaged by the water
  • After that, wipe the cleaning solution with a cloth or a towel, and you’re done

Pro tip: You need warm water and not boiling. Even diving watches cannot handle extremely high temperatures.

A well polished stainless steel watch

How to remove scratches from a stainless steel watch bracelet 

The process of removing scratches from stainless steel watch bracelets is easier than it looks. You don’t have to be extremely careful since there are no parts that can be damaged. If the entire material of the bracelet is steel, it’ll be over in no time. Again, you are going to need a microfiber cloth and metal polisher

  • Apply the polisher on the cloth 
  • Start rubbing the bracelet. Along with scratches with this technique, you’ll also get rid of the dirt that sticks between the bracelet links.  

As mentioned above, the professional cloth with the powder is excellent for scratch removal. It is also highly recommended for light and fine scratches. Additionally, you can try a fibreglass brush. It’s ideal for detailing or for small bracelets. 

We recommend removing the bracelet from the watch entirely and laying it down on the table if you want some extra comfort while cleaning the bracelet. It’ll make your job much easier and detailed. It is not a complex task to remove the bracelet. You just need a pin remover to remove the links. It won’t take you more than 2 minutes!

Close up of a stainless steel wristwatch for men

How to polish your stainless steel watches

If you’re the type of person who enjoys having a shiny timepiece all the time, then you should polish it every three months. It’ll always look fresh and new. Polishing, just like removing scratches, is a simple task, and you don’t need professional care. We are going to focus on 2 methods that are effective and not time-consuming.

Method 1: Polishing with polywatch

This is an abrasive compound that polishes every part of the watch. You can use it to polish the watch crystal, the case, the bracelet, and watch straps and bands. How to use it:

  • Apply some of the product to the scratches.
  • Grab a cotton cloth and rub the polywatch with smooth pressure for 5 minutes.
  • After you’re done, use a new piece of fabric to wipe down the excess product from the watch.

You’ll notice the results almost immediately. It’ll make your watch brand new. 

Method 2: Polishing with sandpaper

Sandpaper is an ideal alternative to a polywatch. It comes in different sizes, it’s affordable, and you can find it pretty much anywhere. You will need 1500-grit sandpaper

  • Firstly, take the sandpaper and run water on it.
  • Then rub it on the scratches with gentle moves.
  • Continue rubbing for 2 minutes.
  • If you see deep scratches, then you can use a bit more pressure.
  • After that, as a final touch, use a cloth to clean any fingerprints or dust.

closeup luxury men watch with black dial and stainless steel bracelet on wrist of man
We all love watches not only because they show us the time but also because they give us the satisfaction of wearing a beautiful piece of jewellery with a complex mechanism and an incredible design. This is precisely why we don’t want to damage and scratch them. One scratch might seem insignificant, but when they stack up, you’ll start becoming more and more frustrated. You have to do something to gain that freshness of your timepiece back. In this guide, we hope you find out everything you need to know about removing scratches from your stainless steel piece and how to polish it. Now that you restored your watch in its former glory, you’re ready to wear it with pride and joy!

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