How To Clean Leather, Rubber And Wood Watchbands

When you purchase a watch that you love and that makes a statement about you, the last thing you'll want is for the band to age too quickly or to suffer damage from perspiration or food splashes. As with any investment piece of jewellery, understanding how to care for your watch can keep it looking new for longer, and it's neither time-consuming nor difficult to clean your watchband. Cleaning should be carried out as and when it's required, and the exact cleaning method you should use is dependent on the type of watchband you have. Here's an overview of how to clean each of the three common types of watchbands.


Leather is a durable material, but it's also permeable and absorbs sweat. It can be easily marked with water and soap residue when washing your hands, and it requires gentle cleaning to prevent fraying and cracking. Once you've removed the band, give it a wipe with a soft, dry cloth, such as a jewellery polishing cloth, to remove any grainy build-up that could cause fine scratches on the band. Next, dampen a second soft cloth with mild soapy water and gently rub the cloth along the band in circular motions. The residue should then be removed from the strap using a third cloth that's been dampened with lukewarm water. Leather bands can crack if left to dry in the sun or when exposed to heat from a hairdryer, so allow it to air-dry at room temperature before applying a protective coat of leather conditioner with a clean cloth.


Rubber is less delicate than leather, but sweat can cause it to develop an odour over time. A small drop of washing liquid on a moist cloth will remove general dirt and smells. Simply rinse the cloth out after use and wipe over the strap to remove the soap. The spring bar pins can corrode if water gets into the pinholes at each side of the strap, so rather than air-drying your rubber watchband, use a hairdryer on the cool setting to dry it quickly.  


Watchbands made of wood are treated with oil to keep the wood strong and to prevent rot from water damage. Over time, the surface of the wood can get dirty from daily wear and the wood can dry out. To protect and clean wood watchbands, you must first remove any build-up of grime. Do this by mixing 50 mL of lukewarm water with a couple of drops of lemon juice, which will help to sanitise the surface of the wood without using harsh chemicals. Dampen a microfiber cloth with the lemon water and gently rub across the surface of the watchband. Use a dry cloth to wipe away any residue and allow the band to air-dry. Once it's completely dry, apply a purpose-made wood oil or a natural oil, such as walnut oil or jojoba oil, sparingly to the band with a jewellery cloth. Allow the band to dry before putting it back on your wrist.

Regardless of your preferred material, it's not difficult to keep your watchband clean, and doing so will improve the longevity of the band. If you have any queries about the cleaning process for your specific watch, your jeweller can go through the cleaning process with you for reassurance.