Not many watch wearers realize that taking care of their watch strap is important and should be included in the overall maintenance of their timepiece. After all, the strap helps secure the watch to your wrist, and its deterioration can lead to failure and damage to your watch. We’ve outlined some tips on how to maintain a variety of watch strap types, from the soft leather on the new Bambino to the tough stainless steel on the Mako USA II. In all cases, we recommended removing the watch strap from the case before cleaning.
It’s important to note that leather conditioner isn’t a requirement. Caring for leather depends on its type (for instance, you shouldn’t use water on leather suede): we’ll be explaining how to care for the common leather strap.
In general, leather has to have the opportunity to breathe and air out, which makes taking your watch off while you sleep a fantastic idea. Also, exposing leather to a little bit of water is okay as long as it has ample time to dry. Therefore, wearing a leather watch strap in the shower is not recommended because it may lead to warping and a foul mildew smell.
Every now and then, you should rub the strap carefully with a clean, damp cloth (microfiber works well), and allow it to dry. Heat will damage and dry out leather, so never let your leather strap dry in direct sunlight, or in hot or humid areas. For a deeper clean, you can use the aforementioned method with a small amount of moisturizing hand soap. For eliminating odors, laying a baking soda paste (which is just a little bit of baking soda and water) on the strap for a few hours will do the trick.
There are several ways to clean a stainless steel bracelet with dish soap and water: either with a cloth or brush, or to soak it. If you plan to soak your bracelet, make sure that either (1) the bracelet has been removed from the case, or (2) that the watch has at least a 50m water resistance and that all crowns are screwed/pushed in. For a sleek, streak-free shine, we recommended using lighter fluid.
Rubber straps are also very easy to maintain. Water and dish soap will help shed dirt, sweat, and any other particles caked onto your strap.
You can spot clean your strap with a little bit of soap and water, or you can just throw it in the washing machine. For the washing machine method, it’s recommended to throw the strap into a garment bag to prevent the metal hook from snagging other items.