So, you've just looked down at your wrist and noticed your stainless steel watch is looking a little grimier than usual. Maybe you've been out adventuring and it picked up some dust or dirt from the trip. Maybe you were shaping a surfboard while wearing it and got it caked with foam shavings.

Or, worst of all, maybe your watch is dirty don't know how to clean it! Don't beat yourself up too much, because most of the time a quick wipe down with a microfiber cloth will restore the sheen of your stainless steel watch. But, in the case where a deep cleaning is required, we're here to teach you, step-by-step, how to get your shine back.

A freshly cleaned Nixon stainless steel watch

What cleaning materials do you need?

Cleaning your watch requires a small list of supplies, most of which you should already have on hand. If you're missing anything, though, your favorite local grocery store or hardware store will have them readily available.

Stainless Steel Watch Cleaning Materials List

  • Clean surface
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Small bowl or Tupperware container
  • Water
  • Mild hand soap
  • Antibacterial wipes (Optional)
  • Soft bristle toothbrush
  • Cotton swabs

Steps to Clean a Stainless Steel Watch

Now that you've got your cleaning supplies laid out before you, you're ready to start cleaning. Follow these steps and your stainless steel watch will be sparkly clean in no time.

1. Know your water resistance — and your watch.

You should know your watch's water resistance rating before any moisture touches the timepiece. The last thing you want to do is inadvertently wind up with a very clean, very useless watch because it got water damaged. If your watch is vintage or you don't know the water resistance, err on the side of caution and proceed to step two.

2. Remove the bracelet from the case.

If your watch is vintage and/or the water rating isn't immediately visible, remove the bracelet and clean it separately. If you have a Nixon watch, you don't need to remove the bracelet, as all our stainless steel watches are rated at least 50 meters, which is plenty for submerging them for cleaning. Should you want to go the extra mile and clean the bracelet and case separately, first remove your watch bracelet.

3. Clean the case.

Once you've established that your watch is water-friendly, submerge it in your bowl of soapy water. Use the toothbrush or cotton swab to get into the nooks and crannies and remove the dirt from all sides. Rinse the case off with warm water and place it on a clean cloth or surface to dry. If your watch is not water-resistant, moisten a cotton swab and use it to clean the case, then wipe it down with a microfiber cloth.

4. Clean the bracelet.

Submerge the bracelet in the bowl of soapy water (replace the water if cleaning your case dirtied it). Use the toothbrush to clean in between the links and in the clasp. Rinse it in warm water and dry it with a microfiber cloth. NOTE: If you have a mesh or Milanese bracelet, don't submerge it or use soap to clean it. Get a fresh microfiber cloth, dampen it if needed, and gently wipe the bracelet down.

A Nixon Sentry with Grateful Dead design looks clean

When Should You Clean Your Stainless Steel Watch?

How often you clean your stainless steel watch depends on how often you're wearing it, what settings it's worn in, and your tolerance for grime. As a general rule, once each month should be sufficient, as any watch will build up some dirt over that period. If you clean more regularly than that, make sure you're using mild soap and a soft microfiber cloth. You don't want to scratch or damage the finish of your watch with repeated cleanings.


Stainless steel watches are durable and reliable timepieces that can last for years with the proper care and maintenance. Knowing how to clean your stainless steel watch properly will extend its life and keep it looking new. So, the next time you spot some spots on your watch, you've got the knowledge to get it back to its original brilliance.

When you’re ready for a new watch, Nixon has stainless steel watches in traditional silver as well as a variety of other colors in both analog and digital styles. From daily drivers to statement pieces, Nixon has you covered.