Best Practices Guide for Watch Maintenance

Written and Published by WristClean


“Whether you are a new watch owner or a seasoned collector, the watch world offers an exciting passion and hobby.  To us they are special – they not only tell time, but they signify our precious time on earth and how we measure our days and essentially live our lives.  And, they come in all forms - whether it’s an activity tracker, an every day wearer, or a family heirloom.  WristClean is committed to providing authentic products for watches to not only help you maintain your watch in the best way possible, but to preserve it for the next generation.”

-Don Rothrauff, Founder of WristClean


WristClean makes authentic products to maintain the exterior of wristwatches.  Authentic as in exclusively engineered for watches – gentler on waterproof gaskets and softer on watch surfaces to reduce micro-marring and hairline scratches.  To the contrary, dish soap, re-branded jewelry cleaners, and re-purposed generic cleaners of unknown origin are too harsh for the health of your wristwatch. While they may yield “instant” shine to a watch, they can be damaging over the long-term due to their harsh ingredients that can dull surfaces and dry out and crack waterproof gaskets.

WristClean offers industry best practices when it comes to maintaining the exterior of your wristwatch over the long-term.  We define it as a science of utilizing the right products with the right processes to achieve the best, long-term results. 

Our mission is to simplify watch care for the watch owner and enthusiast and make products that clean, beautify, and preserve your wristwatch.  WristClean’s meticulous and scrupulous approach has garnered a world-wide following with enthusiasts in over 65 countries, relationships with the most prestigious Swiss manufacturers in the world, and industry-leading service centers.


It is recommended to read and familiarize yourself with your watch manufacturer’s recommendations for servicing.  One of the most important pertains to the servicing of your waterproof gaskets.  Your manufacturer will specify servicing advice for your watch’s battery changes or movement cleaning (if self-winding, automatic, etc.).

Note that watch manufacturers will often recommend that their watches can be cleaned using soap and water.  To the contrary, soap should not be used.  Soap often contains ingredients such as glycerin, sodium hydroxide (lye), fats, and oils that accumulate in watch crevices and build up “gunk” over time.  A film develops over time that spreads from crevices to wider surface areas. This can eventually give your watch a dull appearance. Soap can also be harsh on waterproof gaskets by drying them out and is better intended for cleaning dishes, washing skin, etc.  Why is soap recommended then?  Manufacturers often do not endorse products and by indicating that “soap and water” are acceptable, they greatly simplify their instruction.  Yet, soap and water are not the best for your watch’s health and maintenance over time.


WristClean formulas were designed to clean, beautify, and preserve your watch safely & gently while not jeopardizing your watch’s factory condition.  All of WristClean’s formulas are manufactured, bottled and labeled in the USA under high-quality control.


  • Watch cleaner was designed to rid the exterior of your watch of impurities, often accumulated from your skin and the environment or activity the watch is worn (e.g. salt-water). Your skin secrets oils and salts that accumulate in your watch crevices (case and/or bracelet or strap).  When not cleaned properly, these impurities can build up over time causing harm or further wear to the watch itself.  WristClean’s watch cleaner gently emulsifies these impurities from your watch surfaces gently, restoring a clean factory finish.  Its formula was designed to be gentler on waterproof gaskets (pH-balanced, water-based) and leave a no-film finish.  It is optimally “balance-blended” to achieve the ideal ratio between effectiveness and gentleness.  Void of harsh chemicals – naphtha (a flammable petroleum product), solvents, alkaline chemicals, chlorine, and heavy metals. To the contrary, generic cleaners are too harsh for the unique needs of watches and gels prolong unnecessary exposure to waterproof gaskets.  WristClean’s watch cleaner is safe for all metals (yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, stainless steel, rhodium, platinum, titanium, etc.), safe on all crystals (sapphire, acrylic, non-reflective coatings), and safe for all Non-Metal Surfaces (vulcanized rubber, FKM, silicon, ceramic).
  • Rubber Strap Care was designed to clean and preserve your rubber strap by returning conditioners to the strap itself. This aids in resisting damage from body oils and salts and postpones cracking, discoloration, and wear.
  • Leather Strap Care was designed to clean and condition your leather straps to postpone cracking and wear by keeping your straps soft and supple.
  • NATO/Canvas Strap Care was designed to clean and rid your straps of odors, impurities and dirt. This powerful enzyme cleaner lifts stains and odor.


Microfiber cloths and watch brushes were designed to minimize and reduce scratches and micro-marring from accumulating on your watch surfaces.  Surface areas that are highly polished are more prone to scratches or gathering feather-like scratches.

  • Microfiber cloths were designed to reduce scratches and micro-marring. WristClean’s 4 grade-rating system (by softness, thickness, rigidity, absorption) helps watch owners better understand the characteristics of each of its cloths.  Each cloth was designed to “level” the microfiber strands to avoid additional harm to highly polished surfaces.  To the contrary, “fluffy” watch towels with varying height levels of microfiber, comparable to the idea of valleys and mountains, pose more harm to delicate surfaces.  When tested on a Rolex Deepsea clasp, viewable in the sunlight, micro-marring accumulated after one usage of the cloth.  While many of these towels are fashionable and becoming more popular because they look soft and luxurious, it is our recommendation to avoid these.  WristClean’s plain “level” microfiber with a soft edge are much softer and gentler on highly-polished surfaces, despite their ordinary design.
  • Watch brushes were designed to be used on delicate watch surfaces and to safely clean between crevices of the watch case and/or bracelet. To the contrary, jewelry brushes, utility brushes and toothbrushes are way too harsh and can cause scratches.  Their bristles are not intended to be used on delicate, highly polished surfaces.  WristClean watch brushes are tested on watches and designed for watches.


Just as important as the products you use, equally important are the processes.  The right products used incorrectly can yield harmful results.  WristClean’s processes greatly reduce the chances of scratches by recommending best practices when it comes to watch cleaning and care.

Use of Microfiber and Brushes

  • Use of Microfiber Cloths
    • Use sparingly and with great judgment when using on dry, satin surfaces (not highly polished) to clean light smudges, fingerprints, etc.
    • Never ever use on your watch’s highly polished surfaces without cleaning your watch first or spraying or foaming the microfiber cloth first.
    • Wash microfiber by hand or by machine without the use of softener or dryer sheets. They will clog the pores of the microfiber essentially making them ineffective at cleaning.  Line dry or dry by machine.

While it may be tempting after handling your watch to use a microfiber to wipe its surfaces, this should be avoided on highly polished surfaces, while judgment should be used for satin finishes.  Satin finishes are more forgiving to light impurities and a cloth can effectively remove impurities without harming your watch surfaces.  Sometimes the slightest particle on a highly polished surface can scratch if a microfiber cloth wipes it across its surface.  Our recommendation is to use microfiber only on highly polished surfaces after cleaning the watch to effectively remove all impurities.  For light maintenance, such as fingerprints and smudges, you can use with judgment microfiber on satin finishes.

  • Use of Watch Brushes
    • Never ever use your watch brush without wetting it first.
    • Never ever use your watch brush without spraying or foaming your watch with WristClean’s watch cleaner first.
    • Use sparingly and only when needed. Otherwise, use your fingers to gently massage the watch surfaces with watch cleaner.
    • Use brushes on areas that are not highly polished and only if needed, on areas that are highly polished.

WristClean watch brushes are very soft.  However, like anything when additional tools and products are used, risk increases for additional micro-marring.  In addition, when using watch brushes, it is absolutely imperative to wet the bristles so they become even softer.  By spraying or foaming your watch with WristClean’s watch cleaner first, the cleaner protects the watch surfaces by acting as a “lubricant” to the surfaces.  The soft, wet bristles will safely whisk away and remove particles and impurities between crevices of your watch.  To the contrary, without wetting the brush first or using watch cleaner, if you had used a dry brush on a dry surface, you run significant risk of the bristles dragging impurities and particles across highly polished surfaces leaving a trail of swirls.


Water-resistant vs watches that are not water-resistant:

  • For watches that are water-resistant, you can spray or foam your watch directly with WristClean’s Watch Cleaner.
  • For watches that are NOT water-resistant, you can spray or foam your microfiber cloth and wipe your watch surfaces, instead of spraying or foaming your watch directly.

For watches that are water-resistant:

  • Spray or Foam Your Watch
    • Spray or foam the exterior of your watch first. Foamy sudds act as a “wet lubricant.” Ensure watch cleaner is generously applied to the case, crystal, bracelet, or rubber strap.
    • This step is pivotal prior to using a brush or microfiber to avoid scratching/micro-marring on highly polished surfaces.
  • Massage with your Fingers or Use a Watch Brush
    • Use your fingers to gently massage the exterior of your wristwatch. The formula will gently lift dirt and impurities from the watch surface.
    • Use a brush if necessary to clean your watch crevices of impurities. Always wet the brush bristles before use.  If possible, use on highly polished surfaces sparingly and with best judgment.
  • Dry and Wipe Surfaces
    • Rinsing with water is optional and unnecessary, however rinsing with water is preferred to rinse away impurities emulsified by watch cleaner.
    • Use a microfiber cloth to absorb liquid from your watch surface and to dry the majority of your watch.
    • Follow up by using a second microfiber cloth to absorb remaining liquid and to wipe clean your watch’s surfaces.


WristClean Rubber Strap Care is ideal for cleaning and preserving rubber straps, such as straps by manufacturers and after-market, such as Rubber B, Everest, Zealande, Horus, etc. 

Check for color fastness.  Apply a small amount to a cloth & wipe on your rubber strap.  After a few minutes, buff gently with a clean cloth.

Allow 24 hours for your rubber strap to improve in appearance and color once treated.


Leather Strap Care is ideal for cleaning and preserving leather straps.

Check for color fastness.  Apply a small amount to a cloth & wipe on the leather strap.  After a few minutes, buff gently with a clean cloth.


Nato and Canvas Strap Care is ideal for cleaning straps and also neutralizing odors.  An enzyme cleaner gently cleans the strap while ridding the watch of impurities.

Check for color fastness.  Shake well before use.  Apply to or soak canvas straps for 1-4 hours.  Rinse with water & towel dry.  Repeat if needed.


Version 1.2.94

All Rights Reserved.

All material appearing on the WristClean website (“content”) is protected by copyright under U.S. Copyright laws and is the property of VERAET or the party credited as the provider of the content. You may not copy, reproduce, distribute, publish, display, perform, modify, create derivative works, transmit, or in any way exploit any such content, nor may you distribute any part of this content over any network, including a local area network, sell or offer it for sale, or use such content to construct any kind of database. You may not alter or remove any copyright or other notice from copies of the content on WristClean’s website. Copying or storing any content except as provided above is expressly prohibited without prior written permission of the VERAET or the copyright holder identified in the individual content’s copyright notice. For permission to use the content on WristClean’s website, please contact