How to Clean an Apple Watch Band So It Looks New

Updated: Mar. 13, 2024

Sweat, spills and debris can make your Apple Watch band grimy. Here's how to restore its original luster.

Sure, you can use your Apple Watch to tell time. But most of us use it for so much more: tracking our workouts, sending quick text replies, listening to music, analyzing our sleep and, uh, finding our misplaced iPhone. With so much use—and skin contact—it can get pretty grimy pretty quickly. If you don’t learn from the get-go how to clean an Apple Watch band, you might soon find it caked with sweat, sunscreen, body lotion, splotches of coffee and other mysterious smudges.

That’d be a bad look for such a chic accessory. But if you clean it the wrong way, you could cause the materials in the band to break down, then, next thing you know, you could be trying to figure out the best time to buy new Apple products.

Instead, always take the time to learn how to care for any personal tech—whether you’re going to clean a cell phone, clean an iPhone charging port or learn the basics of how to clean anything in your house. Each product has different requirements and a different cleaning schedule. Read on to learn the best way to clean your Apple Watch band—and while you’re at it, give the watch face a quick wipe down too.

Should you clean your Apple Watch band?

You most likely spent a lot of money on your Apple Watch. It’s only natural that you’d want it to look its best for as long as possible. But the reasons for learning how to clean an Apple Watch band go beyond looks. Some people find they develop skin irritation if they don’t clean it regularly. In addition, many people find that their Apple Watch band will start to smell funky if they go too long without cleaning it. That’s because bacteria can build up on it, especially in the crevices where you connect it to the watch face.

While you have your cleaning supplies out, clean the watch face too. It’ll only take a few extra seconds, and you won’t have to keep peering through hairspray and water spots. Besides, if enough debris collects in the nooks and crannies of the watch face, the digital crown could get stuck, or the speaker ports could get clogged.

How to clean an Apple Watch band

Authentic Apple Watch bands come in a variety of materials, including leather, nylon, stainless steel and silicone. Each requires a slightly different cleaning approach. Here’s a list of what you’ll need on hand for any kind of band.


How to clean a silicone, fluoroelastomer, nylon or polyester watch band

  1. Remove the band from your Apple Watch.
  2. Moisten one nonabrasive lint-free cloth with warm water. You may also add a drop of mild hypoallergenic hand soap to remove tough stains. (If you have allergies, try these other cleaning products too.)
  3. Rub the moistened cloth along both sides of the silicone watch band.
  4. If you used soap, rinse out the cloth and wipe the band again to remove any traces of suds.
  5. Dry with the remaining lint-free nonabrasive cloth.
  6. Reattach the band to your Apple Watch.

How to clean a stainless steel watch band

  1. Remove the band from your Apple Watch.
  2. Wipe the band with a nonabrasive, lint-free cloth. You may lightly dampen the cloth with water if necessary.
  3. Dry the band with your other cloth.
  4. Reattach the band to your Apple Watch.

If you have especially stubborn stains, you could follow up with a specialized stainless steel cleaning cloth; alternately, mix one part water with one part white vinegar and apply sparingly with a cotton swab, rubbing to remove the stain.

How to clean a leather watch band

  1. Remove the band from your Apple Watch.
  2. Wipe the band with a lint-free, nonabrasive cloth, following the grain of the leather. If necessary, lightly dampen the cloth with warm water.
  3. Let the band air-dry; just be sure not to leave it in direct sunlight, where it could become overly dried out and crack.
  4. Reattach the band to your Apple Watch.

Don’t soak the band in water, as the leather is not water-resistant. But you might be amazed at how much dirt and debris a microfiber cloth can pick up on its own. You may notice the leather taking on a darker color, or patina, after a while. That’s a natural characteristic of leather, though other factors like body oils and lotions can contribute to color changes too. Here’s how to clean everything else made of leather.

Pro tips:

  • Ideally, to keep your watch band free from sweat, you should avoid wearing it during intense workouts. But many of us like to use our Apple Watch to track our exercise performance. If that’s the case for you, be sure to clean it after every workout.
  • The white Apple Watch band has a tendency to yellow with age. It also shows other stains more readily, including dye from rubbing against denim, or ink from your pen if you’re a lefty. To remove these stains, try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Moisten the Magic Eraser, squeeze out the excess water and rub it on the stains on your watch band.
  • If you need to disinfect your silicone, fluoroelastomer or stainless steel Apple Watch band, you can try 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes or Clorox wipes. Don’t use these on fabric or leather watches, though.

Apple Watch band glossary

Not sure what type of watch band you have? Read below to find out.

  • Silicone: Technically, the Solo Loop is the only Apple-branded band made of silicone.
  • Fluoroelastomer: The Ocean band and the Sport band (including the classic white Apple Watch band) are made from fluoroelastomer, a material that’s very similar to silicone but stands up better to heat, moisture and oils.
  • Nylon: Apple’s Sport Loop and Nike Sport Loop series, as well as the Trail series, are made from woven nylon with a hook-and-loop closure.
  • Polyester: The Alpine Loop uses two layers of polyester woven together into a single continuous piece, without any stitches. The Braided Solo Loop uses 16,000 recycled polyester yarn filaments interwoven with ultrathin silicone threads for sweat and water resistance. You may occasionally find dirt and debris trapped in the woven loops; in such cases, try using a moistened soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub the band.
  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel bands, such as the Milanese Loop, come with a heftier price tag.
  • Leather: Similar to stainless steel, the Apple Watch Leather Link costs about twice as much as the fluoroelastomer.

Apple Watch bands

How to clean an Apple Watch

There’s no point in having a clean watch band and a dirty watch face. So while you’ve got your cleaning supplies handy, learn how to clean the Apple Watch face and crown, then get it all done at once.

How to clean an Apple Watch face and crown

  1. Turn off your Apple Watch or enable the water lock.
  2. With the band already removed, check the digital crown for dirt and debris; manually remove if possible.
  3. If debris is stuck in the digital crown, you may hold the digital crown under a gentle stream of warm water from the faucet. Don’t worry, it’s water resistant.
  4. As the water runs over the gap between the digital crown and the rest of the case, repeatedly turn and press the crown until all the debris has been removed.
  5. You may also run a light stream of warm water over other aspects of the watch face, including the speaker ports, to remove any visible debris.
  6. Shake away any water remaining in the digital crown gap or openings.
  7. Dry your Apple Watch with a microfiber cloth. Don’t forget the crystal on the back!
  8. Disengage the water lock, or turn your watch back on and reconnect it to your clean watch band.

Pro tips:

  • Don’t use soap or any other abrasive cleansers on your Apple Watch face or crown.
  • Don’t use compressed air, toothpicks or other pointy items to remove debris.


  • Apple: “How to clean your Apple Watch”