Watch cleaning

How To Clean Your Watch At Home

A watch does more than simply tell the time; it keeps hold of your most precious memories, which is why it’s so important that it gleams beautifully. Discover how you can clean your watch at home to ensure your investment piece remains in flawless condition and shines bright, every time you wear it.

20 October 2021 Editor - Ernest Jones

Here at Ernest Jones, we understand just how precious your prized possessions are, so let’s guide you on treating your watch with the tender, love and care it deserves to make sure it sparkles as succinctly as it ticks.

Before cleaning your watch, you need to determine what it is made from as different cleaning methods may need to be used for specific materials. For example, a watch with a leather strap cannot be cleaned with water as it would risk damaging it, while a gold watch can scratch easily. Therefore we recommend the below cleaning process for watches made from stainless steel or rubber.

Another key factor to consider is the water-resistance of your model so you don’t end up accidently damaging your model while attempting to clean it. Most watches with a resistance of 50m will be fine to clean, however, timepieces with a lower resistance may require special considerations when thinking about cleaning.

What you need before cleaning your watch

Before cleaning your timepiece, it’s best to gather around exactly what you need beforehand, so that you don’t miss a crucial step or end up damaging your watch as a result.

The items we suggest you’ll need to clean your watch are a gentle soap (such as hand soap or dish soap), warm water, a bowl, a small, soft brush (such as a soft toothbrush), a protected cleaning area (such as over a layered towel), and a dry microfibre cloth.

Now that you what you need, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to return your watch’s sparkle:

Step one

Start by wiping down the watch with a soft cloth to remove any initial traces of dirt, dust or grime. While a paper towel is fine to use, a microfiber or chamois cloth is recommended as it is softer and more delicate on watches.

Step two

A crucial tip that you must get right when cleaning your watch is the temperature of the water. Lukewarm water is the ideal temperature as it’s warm enough to remove dirt but cool enough as not to not cause any damage to your timepiece.

Avoid hot water at all costs, as it can cause metal pieces to expand or contract, which could cause water to enter the watch resulting in damage to intricate components inside. Though water-resistant/dive watches are known to be robust, even they are susceptible to impairments caused from being exposed to hot water conditions, which is why they should not be worn in saunas or in the shower.

Once you’ve filled a clean bowl with a mixture of lukewarm water and soap, delicately soak the watch bracelet for a few seconds.

Step three

Using either a soft toothbrush or cloth, gently remove any visible grime, oil or dirt from the bracelet, taking care to get inside any crevices, while making sure to avoid immersing the watch’s face into the water to prevent any damage. Remember to be mindful of how much pressure you apply, as a heavy hand could result in scratches.

Remove soap residue with a clean damp cloth or by running the bracelet under a stream of water to rinse away the soap. This is an important step as any soap residue left on the watch can cause the steel to look dull and tarnished, so make sure all traces are gone to bring back the sparkle. Once you’ve done that, gently pat the watch dry with a cloth.

How often watches should be cleaned?

We recommend giving your watch a deep clean – i.e. the method described above – once every month or so. However, your timepiece will benefit from a quick daily clean, which simply consists of wiping your watch with a soft cloth. This can prevent a build-up of dirt and grime and make the deep cleaning of your watch an easier task.

It must be stressed that while watches can be cleaned at home, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to remove dirt and germs that might not be visible to the eye, which is why we recommend taking your watch to your local Ernest Jones for a professional service and cleaning. Our experts will be able to polish scratches and perform any routine tests such as checking the gaskets and watch-resistance to ensure your model is in its best working condition.

Do different watches need to be cleaned differently?

Yes, as leather watches can’t be washed with water, and we would suggest not rinsing gold or vintage watches as the metal can be susceptible to water-damage. Also, certain watch brands may give their own guidance, with TAG Heuer, for example, advising to deep clean watches every 2-3 months.

If in doubt about whether your watch can be cleaned, simply visit your local Ernest Jones where one of our friendly experts will be more than willing to assist you with your query or provide tips to guarantee your watch glistens impeccably either way.