Mmmm, leather. Even just hearing the word conjures up various sensory associations — the feel, smell, and look. It's one of the most popular materials in fashion for a good reason. There's nothing like owning a quality pair of leather shoes, belt, bag, or watch strap.

Leather watch straps convey an air of sporty refinement that makes them exceedingly popular with chronograph watches, but just about any watch dial can be enhanced with a leather strap.

Because leather is a natural material, it breaks in and forms to your wrist while taking on a unique aesthetic reflective of your journey with it. Wearing a leather strap makes it yours, and it only gets better with age, provided you take care of it. Leather straps do require maintenance, though. You wouldn't neglect to clean and polish your leather boots, nor should you neglect your leather watch strap's regular care and cleaning.

This article will explain how to clean and protect your leather watch strap, including some tips and tricks for if/when your strap starts to smell. So, let's get into it; because a well-loved leather strap will love you back for years to come.

A clean leather watch band from Nixon in black and white

Steps to Clean a Leather Watch Strap

Let's start with the basics. Cleaning your leather watch strap is something you should be doing regularly. Doing so will extend the life of your strap and make it feel truly unique to you. Here are the steps to follow to keep your leather watch strap clean:

  1. Wipe down your strap with a dry microfiber cloth. This removes any loose dirt or dust particles that might otherwise scratch the leather during cleaning.
  2. Wet down another microfiber cloth and put a drop of unscented, mild hand soap on it. Work the soap into the cloth, then gently clean the strap. No need to show off your muscles here; use light circular movements like you would brushing your teeth.
  3. Rinse the soapy cloth until all the soap is removed. Wring the cloth out until it is damp. You want moisture but not dripping with water. Wipe off any residual soap left on the strap.
  4. Lay your watch on a dry microfiber towel to air dry. Please practice the art of patience and resist the urge to speed up the drying process with a hairdryer. That's going to cause unnecessary drying of the leather and could lead to cracking.

How to Clean a Leather Watch Strap that Smells

If you're concerned that your leather watch strap might be developing an aroma that a musk ox might find appealing, it's time to take some additional steps. Leather absorbs the moisture and oil from your skin, so the best way to avoid a smelly strap is to let it breathe. Removing your watch after any particularly sweaty activity is a good idea. But, even letting your strap air out overnight is one of the easiest ways to keep the funk at bay. If that doesn't work, proceed with the cleaning steps above at more frequent intervals.

A Nixon leather watch band on a woman's wrist

How to Restore and Protect a Leather Watch Strap

Just like moisturizing your skin after a shower, your leather watch strap will need some conditioning after cleaning it. Use specialized leather conditioner and leather oils sparingly to keep your strap supple and crack-free. Note that some of these products can darken the leather, so read the labels carefully to see if they could change your strap's color with use. Follow the instructions of leather conditioning products carefully to make sure you don't accidentally damage your strap in the process.

Keep Your Hide Happy

Keeping your leather watch strap clean and conditioned is a labor of love. It will extend your strap's life, make it more comfortable, and give it a personalized look at fit that comes with a natural material like leather. Follow these simple steps and enjoy your time with your leather strap.

Nixon has a variety of leather watches for men and leather watches for women. We also sell leather watch straps if you want to add a leather look to an existing watch, or replace a worn-out strap!