How to Stop Leather Watches from Smelling

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Leather watches are a great accessory to go with any outfit any day of the week. Whether it is during a long day of work or while you are out on the town. However, daily wear can cause your leather watch to be stinky because of the dirt, sweat, and oils on your skin, as well as exposure to water like rainwater or when you wash your hands.

Keeping your leather watch clean, especially the leather watch bands is extremely important. The cleaner the watch is kept, the less likely there is a chance of it smelling. Read on to find out different ways to clean your leather watch to keep the smell away. Also, types of preventative measures can be taken to help hold off the smell in between cleanings.

How Do You Get the Smell Out of a Leather Watch?

Leather watch bands are worn close to the wrist. Over time, the leather itself can start to smell if not taken care of properly. Due to the different types of leather available, always test any cleaning method on a small section of your watch band first to make sure there will be no discoloration.

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda, also known as Sodium Bicarbonate, is a great deodorizer to use to remove smells. Baking soda can be used in a couple of different ways to try to remove the smell from a leather watch band.

Loose Baking Soda

Follow these steps to get the smell out of a leather watch band using loose baking soda:

  • Step 1: Pour a couple of teaspoons of baking soda loosely into a plastic bag or a smaller container with a lid. 
  • Step 2: Place your leather watch band into the plastic bag. 
  • Step 3: The watch band should stay sealed with the baking soda for at least 12 hours. 
  • Step 4: If the smell remains, you can place the band back into the container or bag and leave it in for some more time until the smell is no longer there.

Now, let’s look at how you can use a baking soda paste for the same results.

Baking Soda Paste

Follow these steps to get the smell out of a leather watch band using a baking soda paste:

  • Step 1: Create a baking soda paste by adding water. 
  • Step 2: When making the paste, be careful not to make it too runny. 
  • Step 3: Place the baking soda paste onto the underside of the watchband. 
  • Step 4: After about an hour, remove the paste and clean the leather watch band off with a cloth.

Now, let’s move on to the next method you can use to get the smell out of your leather watch band.

Use Water and Hand Soap

Leather watch bands should never be fully submerged in water. However, water can still be used for cleaning your watch band. 

Follow these steps to get the smell out of your leather watch band using water and hand soap:

  • Step 1: You will need at least two different towels or rags; one for water, and one for hand soap.
  • Step 2: After removing the watch face, dampen a cloth with water and rub down both sides of the watch straps.
  • Step 3: Add a small amount of hand soap to the second cloth and spread the soap over the cloth with your fingers to avoid adding a large glob of soap to your watch band in one place. 
  • Step 4: Gently rub the cloth with the soap on it over the watch band to clean and deodorize.
  • Step 5: Then, take the cloth or rag that has been dampened with water and use this to clean off any extra soap that has been left behind. 
  • Step 6: Allow the leather watch straps bands to fully dry before wearing again. 

Now, let’s move on to using a cleaning and conditioning kit to remove the smell from your leather watch band.

Use a Cleaning and Conditioning Kit

Some leather cleaning kits will come with both cleaner and conditioner, and some brands will only sell the conditioner itself. Leather cleaner is best used when your watch band has more buildup on it than usual. Leather conditioner should only be used after your watch band has been cleaned.

Conditioners come in different types including:

  • Liquid
  • Balm
  • Wax

Apple brand comes with both a cleaner and a conditioner. Always test a new cleaner or conditioner on your watch band first in a spot that cannot be seen before fully applying it. 

Conditioners will help your leather watch band stay healthier throughout its lifespan. It can also prevent any cracking from the leather itself drying out due to wearing it more often.

How to Prevent Your Leather Watch from Smelling

There are ways to prevent a leather watch band from smelling in the first place. If you are running into failed attempts of getting rid of smells, it may be best to buy a new watch band and keep it clean from the beginning using preventative measures.

Preventative Measures for Leather Watch Bands

Watches with leather watch bands will need a chance to air out after long use. If you wear your watch all day, you should take it off and keep it off overnight. If you are unable to take it off for longer periods to let it air out, your watch should be removed periodically and wiped down with a clean cloth or rag.

Day-to-day use of wearing a leather watchband can lead to leather watch bands smelling. Extra buildup on the underside of leather watch bands is what usually ends up causing the smell. Therefore, cleaning your watch band is important.

Leather watch bands should be removed during any type of exercise or physical activity. Sweat buildup or any added moisture can cause the watch band to smell. Leather watch bands should not be worn when showering or swimming, either. The added moisture from the water can cause the leather to smell, and the leather can also dry out and crack from this. 

If you ever end up in a situation where circumstances cannot be changed, for example:

  • The day is hot and humid  
  • Your watch band gets wet when washing your hands

Do not worry, because while this cannot be prevented, cleaning your leather watch band more frequently can add to the preventive measures of keeping the leather intact. Allowing the watch band to air dry evenly for longer periods are also great preventive measures to take.


To sum things up, the leather bands of your watch need to stay clean to not smell. Taking your watch into the shower, and getting the leather wet may also significantly contribute to a bad smell. If your watch smells already, different cleaning and prevention methods are available to get rid of the smell. Depending on the smell, it may save you time and frustration to get a brand-new leather watchband. This way you can clean your leather watch as needed and prevent any smell from the beginning.

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