Woman wearing smartwatch

When you buy a smartwatch, you’re prepared to wear it day and night. During the day, you use it to track activities, sports, exercise, and vitals. At night, it continues to tracks vitals as well as sleep. Chances are, the only time to take it off is to recharge it. But you should also be performing regular smartwatch maintenance and cleaning to keep your wearable in tip-top shape. It’s important to know how to care for a smartwatch.

Smartwatch maintenance involves cleaning the band, protecting the display, and keeping the watch updated and operating efficiently. Once you have run through all the features to look for in a smartwatch and have chosen and purchased the one you want, read through these tips. This will help make sure you take good care of it.

How to care for your smartwatch’s display and band

Your smartwatch’s display shows stats, progress, and incoming notifications. Many models allow you to choose workouts, access apps, play music, reply to messages, and more, right from the screen. So make sure to keep it clean and free of scratches, nicks, dings, and fingerprints.

Strapsco tempered film for smartwatch

Using a screen protector

The best way to protect the screen is to invest in a smartwatch screen protector. Whether you have an Apple Watch or a Fitbit, there are options meant to fit perfectly on specific smartwatch models. You can also get a smartwatch bumper case that wraps around the perimeter of the screen. They have cut-outs for buttons, crowns, or dials.

Cleaning the display

Best Buy Essentials screen cleaner set

In addition to using a screen protector to protect your display, it’s important to clean it regularly. Whether your smartwatch has an OLED or LCD screen, gently wipe it with a clean microfibre cloth (don’t use harsh bristles). Don’t forget to clean the underside as well, where the sensors are, as well as the area under your wrist.

You can also use screen cleaners that do not contain harsh chemicals or soaps. Spray the cleaner onto a cloth and gently wipe to remove oils or smudges. If the smartwatch is waterproof, rinse it under running water. That’s ideal if you have been using it on the beach and there’s sand in the crevices. Make sure to use the water lock mode if the watch has one. Models like the Apple Watch will even eject water that gets inside once you take off water lock to help you further clean it.

Band and strap care

Before cleaning your band, make sure to follow the proper instructions for removing the smartwatch band and put on a new one. This will help prevent unnecessary strain or breakage. YouTube is a great resource for videos showing you how to remove and put on a band for different smartwatch models. You can also refer to the manufacturer’s website. It’s usually very easy, but you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it right.

In terms of cleaning the band itself, this depends on the material.

Silicone smartwatch band

Cleaning silicone watch bands

  1. Remove the silicone or fluoroelastomer watch band from the watch.
  2. Use a soft cloth with warm water and mild dish soap to wipe it down.
  3. Thoroughly dry it before re-attaching to the watch face.

    If the watch does not have a removable band, you can still do this while attached. Just be careful not to get soap near the main unit.

Leather or fabric watch bands

Strapsco leather watch band
  1. Using a dry microfibre cloth, wipe away loose particles that could potentially scratch the leather.
  2. Wet a microfibre cloth and add a dab of non-scented and mild hand soap.
  3. Gently rub it along the strap using light, circular movements.
  4. Rinse off the cloth to remove the soap then wipe any residual soap away.
  5. Leave the band atop a dry microfibre cloth to air dry. Do not try to use a hair dryer or vent to dry it as that could cause the leather to crack.

Note that since leather can absorb moisture and oil from your skin, avoid wearing a leather band while working out, playing sports, or doing other extraneous activities. Use a silicone band for these activities then swap to the leather band for the rest of your day or night.

Strapsco metal watch band

Metal or stainless steel watch bands

  1. Remove the metal smartwatch band from the watch face.
  2. Use a paper towel or microfibre cloth to remove dirt, dust, and debris.
  3. If you have a soft unused toothbrush, dip it in soapy, lukewarm water. Use it to gently wipe within the crevices of the metal. Make sure to get in to all the hinges and corners.
  4. Rinse the band in room temperature water to remove the soap.
  5. Pat it dry with a dry cloth. Leave it on a dry cloth to finish the drying process before you put it back on.
Portable Ultrasonic Jewellery Eyeglass Cleaner Machine

Advanced cleaning

While good old lukewarm water, mild soap, and a microfibre cloth can do the trick, there are also specialized cleaners, as mentioned, that you can use for both the watch face and band. These often come in spritz cans or even as packages of wet wipes. As long as it’s approved for the surfaces and materials, you can consider these for quick and easy cleaning on the go.

Another option to consider are ultrasonic cleaners. These are typically designed for traditional jewelry but can work for your smartwatch bands, too.

Man wearing Fitbit Versa 4 Smartwatch

Battery maintenance

Batteries naturally deplete over time for any electronic device. But there are smartwatch battery care tips you can follow to help extend the life of the smartwatch battery.

Best practices for charging and discharging

Mophie wireless charger

Use authentic chargers and cables

Most smartwatches use proprietary chargers. But some work with wireless charging or use USB-C, so you can charge them with virtually any USB-C cable. Make sure to use safety-rated and branded cables and chargers. A discount charger might seem tempting, but they might not offer the right volt output. This could put stress on the battery, and potentially damage the watch. There are plenty of reputable third-party brands with options from which to choose. They might cost a bit more, but they are worth it.

Remove once charged

Remove the watch as quickly as possible from the charger once it’s done charging. Leaving it connected to the charger once it has a full battery can put unnecessary strain on the battery. Some chargers will stop charging or automatically slow it down based on your usual habits to provide a more efficient charge. But it’s never a good idea to leave the watch on a charger longer than it should be.

Don’t completely drain the battery

It can be tempting to use the smartwatch right up until it dies. Some have low power modes to help conserve battery. But you should pop your smartwatch on the charger before it gets below 5% battery life. This will help avoid stress on the battery.

Don’t store it with an empty battery

If you’re taking a break from your smartwatch and don’t plan to use it for a while (maybe a vacation or while recovering from an injury), don’t store it away completely dead. Recharge it to at least 50% before putting it away. If it’s going to be put away for a really long time, try to charge it periodically, just to keep the battery healthy.

Check battery health and look for signs of degradation

The obvious signs of a degrading battery include the watch not charging, charging slowly or not to full, or depleting quickly. These could relate to other issues as well, like software or even the charger (or outlet) itself. To verify, you can check the watch’s battery health.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

With WearOS watches, there’s an app that provides battery health information, including a full chart of the battery life. It will typically be in the advanced settings menu of the watch, but it depends on the model you have. With an Apple Watch, you can check battery in the Settings menu under Battery Health, which shows maximum capacity (anything 80% and under should be replaced) and an option to optimize battery charging. You may also be able to find third-party apps that help you explore battery health.

Avoid extreme temperatures

Just like your smartphone can overheat and malfunction in extreme heat, your smartwatch can too. Avoid exposing it to extreme cold or heat for prolonged periods of time. Models like the Apple Watch Ultra 2 are specifically designed to withstand extreme weather conditions. But most standard smartwatches should be kept cool and dry when possible. During winter, consider covering it with winter gloves or an oversized sweater. In the summer, keep it in the shade as much as possible.

Woman wearing smartwatch at the pool

Other practical considerations

There are other simple smartwatch care tips you can follow.

Keep the software up to date

Always update your smartwatch to the latest software available. This isn’t just for new features and function. It also resolves any known bugs or issues that might impact how it functions. That includes both OS as well as firmware updates. In most cases, the companion app will display a notification when an update is available. Then, download it from there.

Daily wear and tear

Along with cleaning the watch regularly, avoid exposure to harsh chemicals and abrasive surfaces.

Take it off during high-impact activities

Unless the watch is built to be extra rugged and designed to be worn during high-impact activities (think surfing or ATVing), remove it to prevent damage. Some models are designed to be worn for extreme sports. However, most everyday smartwatches can handle typical sports and activities, but are safer to take off before engaging in high impact activities.

Follow water resistance requirements

Understand what the water- and dust-resistant rating for the smartwatch means. Even smartwatches that boast a 5ATM and/or IP68 rating should still be kept away from saltwater and heavily chlorinated sources of water. Rinse and dry the watch after exposure.

Most smartwatches outside of ultra-durable ones are not designed for heavy and direct sprays of water. They can only withstand submersion or light sprinkles. Water-resistance also degrades over time, so the older your smartwatch gets, the less resistant it will be.

If the watch is rated as water-resistant (5ATM and/or IP68) you can safely do things like shower and wash dishes with it on. But as noted, make sure to dry it off once done. You may also prefer to take it off to shower to prevent soap from getting into the watch anyway.

Know when to get professional maintenance

Make use of an extended warranty or regular warranty and keep an eye out for signs of issues. If the battery isn’t lasting as long as it should or you notice other usability issues, seek out professional assistance. Get it fixed while you can, before the warranty period expires.

Also, keep on top of recalls or known issues and address these with the manufacturer or retailer.

Fitbit Sense 2 on wrist while writing

Enjoy your smartwatch!

You can get so much out of a smartwatch, from health and wellness tracking to tips and metrics about your vitals, handy notifications on your wrist, the ability to pay for items seamlessly, and more. But after spending a pretty penny on a new one, it’s important to take the best care of it. Following these maintenance and care tips, you can make sure that it runs (and looks) as new for many years to come.

Check out a wide selection of smartwatches at Best Buy Online.

Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here