After wearing your Apple Watch for a while, you may notice that the band looks discolored or dirty. It may even start to smell. It’s easy to remove an Apple Watch band for cleaning, but you need to make sure you clean it properly to avoid causing damage.
Apple Watch bands come in a range of different materials, each with different cleaning requirements. We’ll show you how to safely clean each Apple Watch band, remove stains or unpleasant odors, and restore the watch band to its former glory.
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How to safely clean any Apple Watch band
Regardless of what material your Apple Watch band is made of, you can follow these general steps to clean it safely. If these steps don’t offer enough oomph to get rid of particularly stubborn stains, take a look at the sections below to find specialized cleaning instructions for each Apple Watch band material.
However, you should start with these instructions first to make sure you don’t use harsher cleaning methods than necessary.
Step 1. Remove the Apple Watch band
It is best to remove the band from your Apple Watch before cleaning it. This allows you to easily clean every edge of the band without worrying about causing damage to your Apple Watch.
Related: How to Clean Your Apple Watch Safely and Efficiently
To remove the band, look at the back of your Apple Watch to find two release buttons where the band attaches to the watch. Press each of these buttons with your fingernail and slide the strap to the side – you don’t need to do both at the same time.
Step 2. Clean the band with a non-abrasive cloth
Use a dry, lint-free, non-abrasive cloth to wipe off dirt on both sides of the Apple Watch band. These are the cloths that are often obtained with a pair of glasses; they are soft enough to ensure you don’t accidentally scratch or mark the band while cleaning it.
This should remove most of the dirt from the Apple Watch band, but you may need to lightly moisten the cloth with fresh water to remove stubborn stains. Not all Apple Watch bands are water resistant, so make sure you don’t get the cloth too wet.
Step 3. Wait for the band to air dry
If you have moistened the cloth to clean the Apple Watch band, blot it with a paper towel to absorb the excess liquid, then leave the band on the Apple Watch outdoors.
Do not use direct heat or sunlight to dry the band; this could damage it.
Instead, place the band in a cool area with good airflow and wait a couple of hours for it to dry completely.
Step 4. Disinfect with 70% isopropyl alcohol (optional)
You may feel the need to disinfect the Apple Watch band to remove bacteria and reduce the risk of infection. It’s not necessary, but it can be a good idea from time to time.
Several Apple Watch bands react poorly to alcohol, so you shouldn’t disinfect leather or textile bands (including nylon and yarn).
For all other materials, Apple suggests using 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes to disinfect the Apple Watch band. A percentage higher than this can damage the watch band.
Even with 70% isopropyl wipes, using them too often could still damage the Apple Watch band over time.
If you’re looking for more intensive cleaning tips, take a look at the section below for the material your Apple Watch band is made of.
How to clean fluoroelastomer bands for Apple Watch
The Apple Watch sports band is made of a material called fluoroelastomer, which is particularly durable and resistant to sweat. Feel free to clean your fluoroelastomer Apple Watch band with warm water and mild soap to remove stubborn stains.
White sports bands for Apple Watch are particularly difficult to clean. Fortunately, you can usually use a magic eraser to remove most of these stains. Dip the Magic Eraser into the water, then squeeze and scrub it to remove the stains from the white Apple Watch band.
How to clean silicone rubber Apple Watch bands
The Apple Watch Solo Loop is made of silicone rubber to make it elastic and durable. This is another washable Apple Watch band, so feel free to rinse it under warm water with a mild hand soap to clean it thoroughly.
The best way to remove stains from a white silicone rubber Apple Watch band is with a magic eraser. Dip the Magic Eraser in the water, then squeeze it before gently scrubbing stubborn stains off the Apple Watch band.
How to clean nylon Apple Watch bands
Made of woven nylon, the Apple Watch Sport Loop is more difficult to clean with a non-abrasive cloth. Instead, you can use a damp, soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the fabric. However, be aware that this could cause the nylon to fray.
Since nylon absorbs a lot of liquids, dry your Apple Watch Nylon Band thoroughly after cleaning it to avoid a bad smell. You can use a fan or hair dryer with a cold temperature to speed up the drying process.
How to clean Apple Watch bands in wire
The Braided Solo Loop is made with silicone yarns and threads to make it breathable, elastic and durable. You can use a damp, soft-bristled brush to clean it more thoroughly, but doing so may cause the fabric to fray.
Make sure to dry the band completely after cleaning it to avoid bad smells. You can use a fan or hair dryer with a cold temperature to speed up the process.
How to clean leather Apple Watch bands
Unfortunately, the leather is not water resistant. In fact, getting your Apple Watch leather band too wet can cause it to deform or lose its color. The leather may also crack as the band dries.
Follow the general cleaning instructions to clean the Apple Watch leather band safely. Afterward, you could apply a leather cleaner or conditioner to protect the finish of the band.
When drying an Apple Watch leather band, be very careful to keep it out of direct sunlight, which can cause the skin to fade.
Over time, it is common for Apple Watch leather bands to become patinated, which means they take on a worn and faded look. There is no way around it.
How to clean metal Apple Watch bands
Aggressive chemicals and abrasive materials can easily damage Apple Watch metal bands. This also applies to metal buckles and pins on straps made from other materials.
You can clean the Apple Watch metal band with warm soapy water to clean it well. But if you do, be especially careful about drying it after. Apple’s metal bands are not water resistant and water can get into the cracks between the links to cause rust for extended periods of time.
How to clean wooden Apple Watch bands
There are also many third-party wooden bands available for your Apple Watch. If the wood is varnished, you can usually clean the band by rinsing it under warm soapy water. However, unpainted wood absorbs water and may warp.
To clean unpainted wooden strips, use a slightly damp cloth and then dry the strap with a fan or hair dryer at a cold temperature.
Clean the band safely to keep it in good condition
Apple makes many different Apple Watch bands. And when you also consider the third-party market, the total number of available bands seems almost infinite.
With all those bands at play, there are many different materials your Apple Watch band could be made of. No matter what, you should have found suitable instructions for cleaning it above. If your band is made of multiple materials, follow the instructions for the most sensitive material to avoid damaging it.
If you keep your band clean, it should remain in good condition for years to come. Even if it’s too late for that, at least there are plenty of cheap bands you can replace it with.