How to Clean Any Smartwatch, Wearable, or Fitness Band

A man wearing an activity tracker on his wrist while sleeping in his bed.Syda Productions / Shutterstock

Wash one’s hands is an important part of personal hygiene, but what about the gadget on your wrist? Wherever you go, it’s ok too. You probably also use it with dirty hands when you’re on the go.

Coronavirus can live on a smartphone for up to 96 hours. Your smartwatch or mobile phone can also be a vector of illness, unless you clean it regularly.

How to clean and disinfect your smart watch

Your smartwatch is a fitness tracker, a communication device and can even replace your bank card for contactless payments. Going to the gym, accepting calls and touching payment terminals can contaminate your mobile phone. If you touch your watch without cleaning it properly, you could transfer germs.

The microorganisms that cause the flu and COVID-19 have been shown to live on hard metal surfaces for up to three days, so it’s important to clean everything regularly to avoid getting sick.

An Apple Watch rinsed under running water.

Apple recently updated its cleaning guidelines, recommending that people disinfect their gadgets with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing) at a concentration of about 70%, or with disinfectant wipes that contain the same. Rubbing alcohol kills most microorganisms on contact, then evaporates, leaving a clean, smudge-free surface.

While the guidelines for cleaning your Apple Watch are specific to Apple products, most manufacturers use similar materials, including glass, stainless steel and nylon. This suggests that Apple’s advice can be applied to similar products. Remember that if you break something by not following the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, your warranty will be void.

A hand wiping an Apple Watch with a cloth.

You should follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your smart watch when cleaning. There is not enough water if you want to properly disinfect your watch. Apple guidelines reiterate that alcohol should not damage glass, metal, silicon, or many plastics. It is a decision that you will have to make yourself.

With that in mind, cleaning your smart watch is fairly simple. First, remove the watch strap from the main unit. Assuming the watch is waterproof, rinse the watch with lukewarm water to remove as much dirt and grime as possible before disinfecting.

Dirt can trap germs and other harmful microbes, so you need to make sure you remove everything and then disinfect. You can saturate a cotton ball with isopropyl alcohol to clean up any particularly stubborn dirt.

Then use rubbing alcohol or similar wipes to disinfect the watch everywhere. Clean the strap according to the manufacturer’s instructions – be sure to locate clean leather without saturating it. If possible (and if you’re comfortable), disinfect the bracelet with isopropyl alcohol.

Metal, silicone and plastic watch straps are unlikely to be damaged by isopropyl alcohol. Nylon bands are also unlikely to be damaged, although Apple does not recommend rubbing alcohol on any of its fabric bands. We recommend that you first run a tester in an inconspicuous place.

Finally, let the alcohol evaporate before reassembling your watch. Completed!

RELATED: How to clean and disinfect your Apple Watch

How to clean your fitness tracker

Fitness trackers are a bit like smartwatches, except that they are generally designed to be worn for longer periods of time. Fitbit a specific recommendations to clean his fitness trackers. Like Apple, this includes using isopropyl alcohol (rubbing) to disinfect devices.

In addition, Fitbit recommends avoiding soap-based cleaners and other products that can get caught in the strip and cause skin irritation. Instead, the company recommends soap-free cleaners, as well as a good rinse to ensure that any dirt is sufficiently removed.

A man charges a Fitbit Charge 4.Fitbit

Fitness and activity trackers are designed for exercise, so, of course, they sweat. A quick rinse in the shower is a good start, but it won’t kill germs or remove stubborn, sticky grime where harmful microorganisms can live.

This is why you should take care to regularly remove and clean your fitness tracker, especially after your workout.

Cleaning your fitness tracker is like cleaning a smartwatch. You will first need to remove the tape from the device, if possible (Fitbit owners can track the official guidelines to do this).

Assuming the tracker is water resistant, rinse it under a tap to remove as much dirt as possible. If you see dirt, remove as much as possible. Clean stubborn stains with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to loosen it.

When the tracker is visibly clean, disinfect it thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or similar disinfectant wipes. Clean the tape according to the manufacturer’s instructions (again, Fitbit has official guidelines). Disinfect the bracelet with isopropyl alcohol or disinfectant wipes, if possible.

When the alcohol has completely evaporated, reattach the strip.

Don’t forget your other portable accessories

Smart watches and fitness trackers aren’t the only wearable items you need to clean regularly. Everything you wear outside the home is exposed to potentially harmful germs. This includes jewelry, badges, portable cameras and earphones and headphones.

You should also regularly disinfect anything that you touch a lot, such as your smartphone, keyboard mouse, and any other gadgets.

RELATED: How to clean and disinfect all your gadgets

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