how to clean a nylon watch band

How to Clean a Nylon (NATO) Watch Band: A Comprehensive Guide

Nylon is one of the most durable and lasting materials you could choose for your watch band, and although it may not be the perfect look for a fancy dinner, you can find options to suit just about any occasion. They are also cheap, and can be changed out very easily, meaning that you can have an array of different bands at the ready, and switch them out to suit each event.

The other advantage of nylon (also known as NATO) watch bands is that they are low-maintenance and easy to clean. No fancy cleaners or detergents are needed. This means that your best bet for keeping your nylon watch strap clean and in good condition is to wash it with soap and water.

How to Wash Your Nylon Watch Band

There are 3 ways you can wash your nylon watch band, and which one you choose will depend on how dirty your watch strap is, and which of the following sounds most convenient to you.

Method 1: Washing in a Washing Machine

The quickest and easiest way to wash your nylon watch band is to pop it in the washing machine.

Simply strap it to some clothing item that you are intending to wash, so it doesn’t get lost or tangled, like a belt hoop on a pair of jeans, and put it through a normal wash cycle – but NOT a hot cycle. Lukewarm or cold water will ensure that the nylon does not get damaged.

Do not run a dryer cycle – you must air dry your watch strap. The best option is to lay it out flat on a towel until it is completely dry.

Method 2: Soap and Water

If you would prefer not to risk your nylon strap in the washing machine, you can clean it by hand with some soap and water, and an old toothbrush. The water can be lukewarm, especially if you have spilled grease or oil on your watch strap, and you should use a simple soap, such as dish detergent or hand soap.

  1. Put some water in a bowl, and add a little soap. Churn it up to create some foam.
  2. Remove your nylon watch strap from your watch, and pop it in the water to soak for a few minutes.
  3. Use the old toothbrush to scrub away any dirty marks on the watch band, and give it a general rub down with your fingers or the toothbrush to remove any dirt between the fibers.
  4. Rinse the watch strap under running water until all the soap has been removed.
  5. Squeeze dry with an absorbent towel, then lay the watch strap out flat to air dry.

Under no circumstances should you try to use heat to dry your nylon watch strap, such as a tumble dryer or a hair dryer, as you could permanently damage it.

Method 3: OxyClean

If you find that your nylon watch band is still dirty after you have tried to clean it with either of the above methods, you may want to give it a deeper clean by soaking it overnight to remove stubborn dirt and stains. This method also works well for white watch straps that have become dull or discolored.

You will need:

  • OxyClean
  • A bowl
  • Water
  • An old toothbrush
  • An absorbent towel
  1. Pour some water and OxyClean into a bowl, and mix it up well.
  2. Remove your watch band from the watch, and drop it into the water and OxyClean.
  3. Leave it to soak for at least 6 hours. Overnight will work perfectly.
  4. Remove your watch strap from the water, and scrub it well with your old toothbrush.
  5. You can use soapy water to scrub it in if you feel it will take more than just the toothbrush to remove the dirt, stains, or discoloration.
  6. Once you are happy that your watch band is clean, and back to its old brightness, rinse it well under running water until all soap and OxyClean has been removed.
  7. Squeeze the watch strap dry with an absorbent towel, then lay the watch band out flat to dry.
  8. Allow to dry completely before returning the watch strap to the watch for use.

How Often Should You Clean Your Watch Band?

If you only have one nylon watch band, you should be washing it at least once a week to ensure that it maintains its color, and always looks good. If you cycle through a selection of watch straps, depending on your outfit or the occasion, you can likely get away with washing your watch straps every 2 weeks.

There are certain circumstances in which you should wash your nylon watch band immediately after use, including exposure to the salt water of the ocean, significant sweating, such as a heavy gym session, or if you have been in a very dusty environment. This applies to any other situation in which your watch band is exposed to significant dirt, oils, or toxins, as well. Rather wash immediately to ensure there is no lasting damage, and the substances don’t have time to really soak in and cause stains or damage.

Remember that nylon is sensitive to alcohol, ozone, and acid, so if your watch band is exposed to any of these, wash it immediately to avoid permanent damage, and keep it in tip top shape.

Henrik Soke

Henrik is a minimalist and founder of DM.

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