A Quick Guide on Cleaning Nylon/NATO Watch Straps

We love a good nylon watch strap here at Tools & Toys. They’re suitable for darn near any everyday scenario, often adding just the right touch of color to an outfit.

We’ve gotta admit though, they do get dirty from time to time. Whether it’s from sweating during workouts or simply resting your wrist on surfaces throughout the day, the woven threads in these things do have a way of collecting grime, and you’ll find yourself needing to clean your watch strap now and again.

There are a few ways to safely do this, and none of them are difficult at all. Let’s take a look.

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Method #1: Washing by Hand
This is the method with the least amount of overhead, but requires perhaps the most personal attention. You can theoretically do this one without removing the strap by being extremely careful, but we’d recommend going ahead and removing it first just to be safe.

All you have to do is simply run some cold or lukewarm water (but not hot! that could damage the nylon weave) over the watch strap, using your thumbs to work it into the dirty areas. Then, using a bit of hand or castile soap — or a gentle dish soap like Dawn — continue using your thumbs to create a lather along the strap.

You’ll probably notice the dirt starting to come up right away. If your thumbs aren’t quite getting the dirt up though, a soft-bristle toothbrush works great.

Rinse the lather and dirt off to check your work. If the strap’s not quite clean yet, just repeat the process as needed. When you’re done, gently press out any excess water and lay the strap out flat for a while to air dry, either indoors or out in the sun. A bit of gentle work with a towel can speed this process up if you’re in a hurry.

Do not use a hair dryer to dry the strap, for the same reason you wouldn’t use hot water.
Method #2: Laundry Day
If even the method above is more effort than you’re willing to spend on this project, you can simply remove your watch strap and throw it in the wash with your clothes. Again, be sure to use cold water so the nylon doesn’t get damaged (you should be washing clothes cold most of the time anyway). Selecting a gentle cycle is also preferred.

Pro tip: To keep the strap from getting lost in the mix, you can either A) tie the strap around a belt loop on any pants you’re washing, B) put the strap in a sock or pant pocket, or C) use one of those mesh laundry bags to keep it contained.

Again, just as you should avoid using a hair dryer, do not throw the strap into the clothes dryer. Air dry only.
Method #3: Overnight Soak
If your strap requires a more intense cleaning — especially if it’s got a bright white accent that you’d like to return to its former glory — then we recommend soaking the strap in a mixture of ice water and OxiClean. At least six hours should do the trick, so we say let it sit overnight.

The next morning, take out the strap and use the hand-washing method above to scrub it clean before letting it air dry once more.
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