How to clean an Apple Watch band and make it look like new

Two silicone Sport Band bands for the Apple Watch in pink and blue on a pink background
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

As we wear the best Apple Watch, day in and day out, it’s no wonder that the band eventually shows signs of use, leaving us left wondering how to clean an Apple Watch band. Smudges and smears from our fingers can become apparent on those made of silicone — made all the more obvious if you opted for a brighter color of band, such as white, pink or yellow. While those made of leather or nylon will eventually need cleaning too, with sweat being absorbed from our wrists on a daily basis. 

Luckily there are methods you can use to clean the best Apple Watch bands. So whether you’re dealing with a stain, or a smelly band, you can get it as good as new again. Here, we will guide you through what you need to do step-by-step, taking you through the best methods whether your band is made from silicone, leather or even stainless steel. Here’s how to clean an Apple Watch band.  

How to clean an Apple Watch Band  

1. Remove the band — The first thing you need to do is remove your band from the face of the watch. You can do this by flipping your watch over; if you look carefully, there’s two thin buttons located on the underside of the display near each of the bands. Press and hold one of the buttons down, then slide out the adjoining band. Repeat with the alternative side to completely remove your band. Make sure you set the display of your Apple Watch in a safe space while you clean the band.   

For full details on how to do this, check out our guide to how to change your Apple Watch band

The reverse of an Apple Watch showing the buttons you need to press to remove the band

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

2. Consider the material of your band —- Before you go grabbing your cleaning materials, it’s important that you confirm what material the band is composed of. The recommended cleaning method will vary depending on this. Apple bands come in all kinds of materials, including stainless steel, silicone rubber and even carbon fiber. If you’re unsure what the band is made of, you can always refer to Apple (opens in new tab) for clarification.    

3. Start cleaning — Now that you know what you’re dealing with. Follow the appropriate cleaning method: 

Silicone 

An Apple Watch with a green silicone Sport Band band fastened on a pink background

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

For silicone-based bands, such as the Solo Loop, and variations of silicone, such as fluoroelastomer (this includes the Ocean Band and Sport Band), Apple (opens in new tab) recommends first cleaning the band with a microfiber cloth. Microfiber is a brilliant material to use because it’s soft and yet effective at collecting germs and debris. If needed, you can dampen this cloth with water for extra cleaning power as well. 

If you’re dealing with particularly stubborn stains, you can also apply a gentle hypoallergenic hand soap, such as ATTITUDE Natural Hand Soap ($9.73, Amazon (opens in new tab)). Just be sure not to use anything stronger, or else this could damage the band. Wash the residual soap away once you’re finished, and dry using a fresh, microfiber cloth. Then leave out to air dry thoroughly before reattaching. 

If your microfiber cloths have seen better days, be sure to check out how to clean a microfiber cloth

Leather 

An Apple Watch with the leather band removed on a wooden background

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re dealing with a leather band, then Apple recommends a slightly different method. First, you can use a microfiber cloth to wipe the leather — you can even dampen the cloth with water for more of an effect. With leather, bear in mind you should always follow the grain as you clean. However, you should not submerge the leather band in water, or indeed hold it under running water. Leather is not water resistant, so you could damage or discolor the band by doing this. 

Apple then recommends leaving the band out to dry completely before refitting it. However, you should avoid leaving the band in direct sunlight, or indeed in a hot environment, as this can dry out and crack the material. Likewise, make sure the space isn’t too humid, or else mildew can develop in the leather.  

When it comes to leather, this material will naturally develop a patina with use. So, don’t be surprised if the color slowly fades with everyday wear. This is to be expected, but if you want to lessen the appearance of stains, avoid exposing the leather to residues on your wrist, such as perfumes and oils. Avoid wearing your leather band to the gym as well if you want to reduce exposure to sweat. You can also use leather oils or conditioners to help maintain the material every 3-6 months, with a product like Leather Honey Leather Conditioner ($19.99, Amazon (opens in new tab)). 

If you’ve got other leather items that need cleaning, be sure to check out our guide on how to clean leather.  

Stainless steel 

Apple Milanese Loop

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Stainless steel is another popular material for Apple Watch bands, however, when it looks dull and grubby, it’s a tricky one to clean. Use the wrong cleaning materials, and you could scratch or even wear away the surface. So, it’s imperative that you take care with this cleaning method. 

Apple recommends simply wiping the band with a microfiber cloth, dampening the cloth with just water if necessary. You don’t want to use any abrasive cleaners for this task, as it could do some damage. Thoroughly dry your band as best you can with a dry microfiber cloth once finished, then leave out to air dry any final residual water before reattaching.    

If you’re dealing with tough stains, we’ve got a couple of suggestions on how to clean stainless steel. These each involve everyday household products, such as dish soap, baking soda, vinegar and olive oil. However, you can also buy dedicated stainless steel cleaning cloths if desired, such as the Hagerty Stainless Steel Cleaning Cloth ($14.72, Amazon (opens in new tab)).  

Nylon and polyester 

A photo of the Apple Watch Ultra with the Alpine Loop

(Image credit: Future)

For nylon and polyester bands, such as the Trail Loop, Sport Loop and Alpine Loop, the instructions are the same as for silicone. Wash with a damp microfiber cloth, using a mild detergent if necessary. Then rinse and dry as best you can, using a fresh microfiber cloth. 

These materials will soak up residual water, so it’s best to avoid submerging them or holding them under a running faucet during this process. The wetter the band is, the longer it will take to dry. Thoroughly dry your band by leaving it for several hours in the sunlight, or ideally overnight before reattaching. Make sure there is plenty of air circulation as it dries. If you’re washing a soft fabric band, bear in mind that you may not be able to wear your Apple watch for several hours as it dries, unless you have a spare band.

It’s worth mentioning that these instructions also apply to the Braided Solo Loop band, which is made from a combination of polyester yarn braided around silicone thread. While these bands can look a lot more intricate in their woven state, there is naturally a lot more scope for germs to trap themselves in each crevice of the braid. You can use a manual soft-bristled toothbrush to help reach into and clean these gaps, such as these Amazon Basics Clean Plus Toothbrushes ($5.18, Amazon (opens in new tab)). Don’t forget to focus on the underside of the band as well, as this is where the germs will have congregated.

All other materials and components 

Apple Watch Sport Loop

(Image credit: Future)

For every other type of band, as well as the closures and buckles, Apple suggests wiping it clean with a basic microfiber cloth, dampening the cloth with water beforehand if needed. Then dry using a dry microfiber cloth (leave out to air dry afterwards if residual water remains), before refitting to your Apple Watch.

Remember, for products which don’t come from Apple, follow the care instructions from the alternative manufacturer for the best results. 

There you have it, your Apple watch should look as clean as the day you purchased it. To keep it looking pristine for longer, follow these tips:

How to keep your Apple Watch band cleaner for longer  

  • Avoid wearing the band during strenuous activities if possible. This will avoid exposure to sweat. If you love to wear your Apple Watch to the gym, make sure the band is cleaned and has time to breathe once you’ve finished working out.  
  • Avoid its contact with perfume, oils or anything applied directly to your skin. 
  • Don’t wear the watch to bed at night — we sweat a lot in our sleep.  
  • Get into the habit of cleaning the band when necessary, this will stop the grime from building up.

Next: Here's how to clean AirPods quickly and safely.

And to keep your other Apple products looking clean, here's how to clean an AirPods case and how to clean a MacBook screen

For more cleaning tips, tricks and how tos, check out how to clean a baking sheet in 3 easy steps (opens in new tab) to make it just like new. And to keep your kitchen looking shiny, check out our guides on how to clean a microwave, how to clean an oven and how to clean a garbage disposal

If you're looking at tidying up a bit and have messy cables lying around — you can check out how I used this simple hack to tame my tangled box of cables.

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.