How to make a cleaning solution for watch movements

Updated February 21, 2017

Solutions for cleaning clock and watch movements can get expensive if you use them in large quantities. You can save money by making your own watch cleaning solution at home, which will add up to significant cost savings over time if you clean watches professionally. Always store your watch movement cleaning solution tightly sealed and out of reach of children, as the some of the ingredients are highly toxic.

Pour 118ml of oil soap into an empty quart container.

Add 227gr of acetone to the quart container.

Take the quart container containing the oil soap and acetone solution outside. Put on rubber gloves. Pour 340gr of 26 per cent ammonium hydroxide into the quart container.

Screw a cap onto the container loosely, and let the solution sit for two hours.

Mix the solution with 1 gallon of cold water and store in a tightly covered container until ready for use.


If you plan to use the watch cleaning solution in an ultrasonic machine, mix it with an additional quart of water before use to prevent frosting any brass on the watch mechanisms.


Do not breathe any of the ammonium hydroxide fumes as they can damage your nasal passages.

Things You'll Need

  • Quart container with lid
  • 118ml oil soap
  • 227gr acetone
  • Rubber gloves
  • 340gr 26 per cent ammonium hydroxide
  • 1 1/2 gallon container with lid
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