The Ultimate Guide on How to Clean Gold Watches

Most fine jewelry is quite fragile, so there’s always a risk of damaging it while trying to clean or repair it. This is particularly true with gold-plated watches, which are made of a base metal coated in a layer of precious metal a few microns thick. However, cleaning is necessary; it can help to preserve your watch to keep it functional and looking good for as long as possible. Keep your gold-plated watch dry, clean it delicately with minimal water, and keep a good stock of cotton balls, and you’ll have a beautiful watch for years to come.

How to clean a gold watch at home? Cleaning a watch that costs you a fortune may give you anxiety. What if you accidentally damage it without realizing that you actually damage it? And other what-if thoughts keep popping up. In fact, a gold watch is easy to clean. It is as simple as you clean your stainless steel watch. But, before we go to the main discussion, let’s talk about the gold watch itself. What is a gold watch? Is it made of pure gold? Is that why the timepiece is expensive? Here are some things you need to know.

Wristwatches are made out of different metals, and gold is the most precious material because it represents a sense of luxury and social status. In the early beginning, gold was commonly used to make coins, monuments, and decoration for buildings, but now it is engaged with many industries such as jewelry, electronics, arts, and wristwatches that gained popularity in the early 80s. Gold in watches are often applied on the cases, bezels, bracelets, or even the movement, much desired for its luster and nobility.

If you wonder whether or not gold watches use real gold, yes they do and that what makes a gold watch is very expensive which is also varied depending on the brand, design, and karat. Karat is the value of gold. The lower the karat is, the less gold it is contained.

Pure gold is 24 karat. But, most gold watches contain 18 karat which equals 75% of gold and 25% of other metals, such as silver, copper and palladium to have a better hardness. These alloys also affect the color of the gold that can be yellow, white, red or pink. You may want to see a 18k gold watch in Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40.

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However, to keep the cost more affordable, some watch manufactures use gold tone or gold plate to resemble gold which actually is something different. So, does it mean that a gold plated watch is tacky? Of course not. The plating is done by specific methods, and a PVD coating is the most common one. This method can make the plate resistant to scratches, plus the plate is either 18k or 24k gold.

Different Way to Clean Gold Watches


Keeping Your Watch Clean


Keeping Your Watch Clean

  1. Don’t get your watch wet. The best way to keep your gold-plated watch both attractive and functional is by protecting it from moisture. Gold is inert and won’t react with water, but the base metal beneath the plating might. Furthermore, watch movements are complex, and water can damage their delicate workings. This means that you should avoid wearing your watch while doing these things:

    • Showering or bathing.
    • Washing dishes.
    • Swimming.
    • Walking in the rain.
    • Exercising.
    • Gardening.

2 Don your watch after applying cosmetics. Lotion, makeup, and hairspray can all gunk up the band and movement of a gold-plated watch even more efficiently than water. To keep your watch safe and clean, wait to put it on until a couple of minutes after your grooming is finished. Avoid applying perfume on your wrists when you’re wearing a watch, as well.

3 Add a coating to your watch. Some jewelry stores sell a clear coating that you can use to protect your skin from your jewelry (or vice-versa). It’s usually a thin, clear liquid that you can brush on like nail polish. Apply it to the side of your watch that faces your wrist, and it should shield the metal from sweat or water, and you from any adverse reactions to the base metal beneath the gold plating.

4 Clean with a damp cotton ball. After you wear your watch, give it a very gentle cleaning with a barely moistened cotton ball or soft cotton cloth (like a t-shirt). Wet the cotton and rub it carefully over the band. Afterward, buff it with another cotton ball or cloth. Doing this every time you wear the watch should let you reduce the frequency of deeper cleanings.[3]

  • Be very careful not to wet the inside of the watch, as this could badly damage or even destroy it.
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Doing a Deep Clean

1 Spot clean with toothpaste. If it’s gentle enough for your teeth, toothpaste is gentle enough for metal, too. Any toothpaste with a traditional opaque (non-gel) formulation will work for this trick. This is best if there are noticeable dirty patches or smears on the watch.[4]

  • Place a dab of toothpaste onto a cotton ball or cleaning cloth, or even directly onto the dirty areas of the watch. Carefully rub the toothpaste over the spots, gently but firmly cleaning them.
  • Start with the inside of the wristband. Then move to the outside of the band and finally, being especially careful not to reach the fragile inside, the gold-plated area of the watch itself.
  • Finally, remove the toothpaste. Moisten a clean cloth or cotton ball and go over the watch, making sure to remove all the toothpaste. Any toothpaste left on the watch can cause corrosion, so make sure the watch is completely rinsed clean.

2 Clean grooves with a cotton bud. Watches contain many small parts and, consequently, crannies that are tricky to clean. Make use of a cotton bud (or Q-tip) for these. The tip will reach inside grooves or other places that are hard to reach with a cloth or cotton ball.[5]

  • For this tactic, you can use just water, or toothpaste and then water.
  • The bud may start to turn gray. This is the dirt and grime coming off the watch, and means you’re cleaning effectively.

3 Purchase a jewelry cleaner. If you’re struggling to use toothpaste, it might be time to level up to an official jewelry cleaner. A good jeweler or watch store can recommend a safe and potent one available in your area. Choose a cleaner marked as safe for gold plate, and use it according to the package directions. These directions are pretty similar to the toothpaste method, usually—buff in, then remove with something soft.

4 Use ammonia for difficult cases. If your watch’s band is very dirty all over and you’re in a pinch, you can soak it in an ammonia solution. Mix one part ammonia to six parts water, and place only the band of the watch in it for no more than sixty seconds. After a minute, remove the watch, and immediately dry it off.

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5 Dry and shine the watch. Using a soft, fine cloth intended for jewelry, rub over the watch, paying special attention to spots where the gold is dull. After you’ve dried it once, you can rub another clean cloth over it to lend it a radiant shine. Now put your beautiful watch on, and wear it with pride![8]

How to clean a gold watch: A gold plated watch

The kit:

  • A  cotton ball
  • A cotton bud
  • A piece of washcloth
  • Toothpaste
  • A soft toothbrush
  • A bowl of soapy water
  • A jewelry cleaner


  1. Use a wet cotton bud to clean the grooves.
  2. Scrub carefully the gold plating with toothpaste and cotton ball.
  3. Wet a soft toothbrush with soapy water and gently rub onto the strap. Use a moist washcloth to wipe off the soap residue. This is the best way to clean a gold watch strap.

Bathing your watch at home is the best solution to maintain its lifespan as well as the look. But, If your gold watch has a lower water resistance, please be careful not to give an extra amount of water or rub it harshly since it can destroy the components. But, if you are not sure about cleaning your watch by yourself, you may want to consider a professional watch cleaning service. They surely have proper tools and know very well how to clean gold watches.

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