After wearing your Apple Watch for a while, you might notice the band looks discolored or dirty. It might 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 any damage.
Apple Watch bands are available in a range of different materials, each with different cleaning requirements. We'll show you how to clean every Apple Watch band safely, removing nasty stains or smells and returning your watch strap to its former glory.
How to Clean Any Apple Watch Band Safely
No matter what material your Apple Watch band is made of, you can follow these generic 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.
Still, you should start with these instructions first to ensure you don't use harsher cleaning methods than you absolutely need to.
Step 1. Remove Your Apple Watch Band
It's 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 any damage to your Apple Watch.
To remove the band, look at the back of your Apple Watch to find two release buttons where the band connects to the watch. Press each of these buttons using your fingernail and slide the band out sideways—you don't need to do them both at the same time.
Step 2. Wipe Your Band With a Non-Abrasive Cloth
Use a dry, lint-free, non-abrasive cloth to wipe away the dirt on both sides of your Apple Watch band. These are the cloths you often get with a pair of glasses; they're soft enough to ensure you won't accidentally scratch or mark the band as you clean it.
This should wipe away most dirt on your Apple Watch band, but you may need to lightly dampen the cloth with fresh water to remove stubborn stains. Not all Apple Watch bands are water-resistant, so make sure you don't make the cloth too wet.
Step 3. Wait for Your Band to Air Dry
If you dampened your cloth to clean your Apple Watch band, dab it with a paper towel to absorb any excess liquid, then leave your Apple Watch band in the open to air dry.
Don't use direct heat or sunlight to dry your band; this could damage it.
Instead, place your band in a cool area with good airflow and wait a couple of hours for it to dry completely.
Step 4. Disinfect With 70 Percent Isopropyl Alcohol (Optional)
You might feel the need to disinfect your Apple Watch band to remove bacteria and reduce the risk of infection. This isn't necessary, but it can be a good idea from time to time.
Several Apple Watch bands react poorly to alcohol, so you should not disinfect bands made of leather or fabric (including nylon and yarn).
For all other materials, Apple suggests you use 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes to disinfect your Apple Watch band. A higher percentage than this can damage the watch band.
Even with 70 percent isopropyl wipes, using them too often could still damage your Apple Watch band over time.
If you're looking for more intensive cleaning suggestions, take a look at the section below for whichever material your Apple Watch band is made of.
How to Clean Fluoroelastomer Apple Watch Bands
The Apple Watch Sport Band is made from a material called fluoroelastomer, which is especially durable and sweat-resistant. Feel free to clean your fluoroelastomer Apple Watch band using warm water and gentle soap to remove stubborn stains.
White Apple Watch Sport Bands are particularly hard to clean. Luckily, you can usually use a magic eraser to remove most of these stains. Submerge your magic eraser in water, then wring it out and scrub to clean away stains on your white Apple Watch band.
How to Clean Silicone Rubber Apple Watch Bands
The Apple Watch Solo Loop is made from silicone rubber to make it both stretchy and durable. This is another washable Apple Watch band, so feel free to rinse it under warm water with gentle hand soap to give it a thorough clean.
The best way to clean stains off of a white silicone rubber Apple Watch band is with a magic eraser. Submerge the magic eraser in water, then wring it out before gently scrubbing away stubborn stains on your Apple Watch band.
How to Clean Nylon Apple Watch Bands
Made from woven nylon, the Apple Watch Sport Loop is more challenging to clean with a non-abrasive cloth. You may want to use a damp, soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the fabric instead. However, be warned that doing this can cause the nylon to fray.
Since nylon absorbs a lot of liquid, thoroughly dry your nylon Apple Watch band after cleaning it to avoid a bad smell. You could use a fan or a hairdryer with a cold temperature setting to speed up the drying process.
How to Clean Yarn Apple Watch Bands
The Braided Solo Loop is made of yarn and silicone threads to make it breathable, stretchable, and durable. You may want to use a damp, soft-bristled brush to give it a more thorough clean, but doing so could cause the fabric to fray.
Make sure you completely dry your band after cleaning it to avoid nasty smells. You can use a fan or a hairdryer with a cold temperature setting to speed this up.
How to Clean Leather Apple Watch Bands
Unfortunately, leather is not water-resistant. In fact, getting your leather Apple Watch band too wet can cause it to warp out of shape or lose its color. The leather could even crack as the band dries.
Stick to the generic cleaning instructions to clean your leather Apple Watch band safely. You may want to apply a leather cleaner or leather conditioner afterward to protect the finish of your band.
When drying a leather Apple Watch band, be very careful to keep it out of direct sunlight, which can cause the leather to fade.
Over time, it's normal for leather Apple Watch bands to patina, which means they take on a worn and faded look. There's no way to avoid this.
How to Clean Metal Apple Watch Bands
Harsh chemicals and abrasive materials can easily damage metal Apple Watch bands. This also applies to the metal buckles and pins on bands made from other materials.
You can wipe down your metal Apple Watch band with warm, soapy water to give it a good clean. But if you do so, be especially careful to dry it out afterward. Apple's metal bands aren't water-resistant, and water can seep into crevices between the links to cause rust over long periods of time.
How to Clean Wooden Apple Watch Bands
Plenty of wooden third-party bands are also available for your Apple Watch. If the wood is varnished, you can usually clean the band by rinsing it under warm, soapy water. However, unvarnished wood absorbs water and could warp out of shape.
To clean unvarnished wood bands, use a very lightly dampened cloth and take special care to dry the band using a fan or a hairdryer on a cold temperature setting afterward.
Clean Your Band Safely to Keep It in Good Condition
Apple produces a lot of different Apple Watch bands. And when you consider the third-party market as well, the total number of bands available seems almost endless.
With all those bands in play, there are a lot of 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 from 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. Though if it's too late for that, at least there are plenty of affordable bands you can replace it with.