A quick how-to guide on cleaning your leather watch strap

Liv Butler
Authored by Liv Butler
Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 22:32

It is a truth universally acknowledged... that a watch enthusiast will have a leather watch strap in their collection.

This is not surprising though- leather is probably one of the most common materials used in Colorful Watch straps due to its versatility and timelessness. You could never go wrong with it. It can be used in watches for women and men. Wear it on a date, on a casual, friendly dinner, on a formal gala event- you could basically wear it anywhere and it wouldn't look out of place.

Does Leather Require Special Care?

Versatile and durable as it may be, leather is still known to be a finicky material. It’s difficult to take good care of it especially if you don’t know how. It can react badly with other elements, thereby causing its lifespan to shorten. It can even give off a particularly unpleasant odor when exposed to hot and humid weather.

So yes, leather does require lots of special care. Careful attention should be given especially in cleaning your leather watch band, since it can get damaged if you go about the cleaning process the wrong way.

Below are the steps on how to clean your leather watch strap or band properly.

How to clean your leather watch band

Before starting the cleaning process, you need to do some necessary prep work first. Make sure that your workspace is clean, well-lit and free from clutter (as well as distractions!), and that you have a nice chair on which you can sit on for at least an hour or so. Remember that cleaning a watch does take quite a bit of time.

A freestanding lamp that you could freely move around is also nice to have, since you can shine the light directly on the watch and see up close whether there's any dust or residue left on it.

Once you've set up your workspace, it's time to gather the equipment that you'll need for cleaning. The primary supplies that you'll need to clean a leather band is a piece of clean, dry cloth and some gentle hand soap (if you're working with finished leather) or saddle soap (for unfinished leather). If you can't tell whether your leather band is made out of finished leather, take a look whether it's shiny or not. Finished leather has a clear sheen to it, kind of like a shiny protective coating, while unfinished leather doesn't shine at all.

For the cleaning cloth, any kind of soft cloth will do, but some people swear by microfiber. It's abrasive enough to gently remove dust and dirt off the leather, and yet is soft enough to not be too rough on the material. Alternatively, you can use jewelry polishing cloth if you have some.

Follow these steps, once you've got your materials and your workspace all sorted out:

Step #1: Remove the strap itself

Cleaning the watch band/strap involves having to detach it from the watch case first. This is so that watch and its components will be safe from damage while you start the cleaning process. It also gives you access to all the nooks and crannies of the band so that cleaning will be easier.

Watch bands are attached differently from one watch to another. Most of them use spring bar pins, while higher-end sports and luxury watches would often have quick-release pins. To detach a band that uses spring bar pins, you'd need a spring bar tool. This tool helps you move the spring that is inside the pin so that you could lift the strap out. Quick release pins on the other hand are far easier to detach. You just need to slide the small button located on the strap inwards, and then pull out the strap.

Step #2: Wipe the leather with a dry cloth

Using the cloth and with a firm, gentle pressure, start wiping away all grime, dust, and dirt on the surface of the leather. This is to ensure that these particles do not damage or scratch the leather later on when we get on to the more intensive cleaning steps. If there's a particularly stubborn dirty spot, you can use a soft bristle toothbrush dipped in a little bit of soapy water to clean it out.

Step #3: Wash the leather with soap

After dry cleaning your leather band, take another dry piece of cloth and wet it with warm water. Apply just a miniscule amount of soap on the cloth. Always remember that leather is prone to damage from water and leftover soap residue, so try to be conservative about how much soap and water you are using. The less it is, the better - you could always add more later on if needed.

Then take this damp cloth and work it in onto your band. Focus on areas with deeply embedded dirt. Be as gentle as possible to avoid scratching the face of the leather.

Once you've done soaping the leather, it's time to rinse the soap off. Do this by getting another dry piece of cloth and then wet it again with warm water. Wipe the soap residue off the leather using this cloth. Be very thorough about this since soap residue left on the leather can make it brittle.

Then it's time to dry out the strap. Just air-dry by leaving it on your workspace for at least a day. Don't leave it under a sun or a heat source since too much heat can also make it brittle and prone to cracks.

Step #4: Use leather conditioner

Using a leather conditioner is optional, but it is recommended. Once the strap is completely air-dry, apply a small bit of conditioner onto a dry cloth. Using small, circular motions, work this conditioner onto the strap gently.

If you're purchasing a leather watch from Lola Rose, hopefully this article can help you learn how to clean it properly. It doesn't matter whether it's womens watches or sports watches, a leather watch is always something that needs to be treasured and taken care of.



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