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Did bug spray melt my watch?

wristwatch

Q. Dear Gear Guy, I got bug spray all over the face of my watch. It is waterproof, so the watch still works, but there is a dirty residue on the face of the watch. I have tried everything to remove it. What would you recommend?
— Alex Beenbitten, from the Internet

I think I know exactly what happened. The bug spray you were using contains deet. It’s the most effective mosquito repellent, but it’s also known for being capable of melting plastics. Most likely, the face of your watch is made of some type of plastic. So there’s actually no residue on the watch; the plastic was melted. I don’t think there’s anything you can do to fix it. Bummer, I know. I ruined a pair of nice sunglasses with bug spray. So this is mostly one of those learning moments: Be really careful when applying deet-based bug sprays, and keep them from coming in contact with any of your gear that has plastic parts.


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7 Comments on Did bug spray melt my watch?

  1. You can take and apply a light coat of clear nail polish to the crystal of the watch. It will fill in the damaged area and look smooth. I have scratched several over the years and works great.

  2. This has happened to me and my friends at a scout camp before bug spray is like acid to a watch.

  3. Also don’t spray it on water based polyuratnine it will makey it a sticky mess

  4. Try polishing it with a cotton cloth and cheap toothpaste. (White paste, not gel). It’s abrasive enough to buff scratches out of plastic.

  5. Yea I would suggest a headlight polishing kit as well, but if you want a more permanent solution, you can wet sand it with progressively finer sand paper, then remove the bands and mask off everything on the watch that isn’t the clear plastic face (if you can’t take the band’s off, mask them too) then hit it with a few coats of clear coat. Just Google how to clear coat plastics.

  6. Webelos Leader Stephen // April 29, 2015 at 2:24 pm // Reply

    Wow, this is great information. In a discussion at the office resulting from this letter I learned that some people use bug spray to polish their headlights. This may mean that the watch could be saved. Rather than attempt to restore it with more bug spray, although that might help, the scout could try a headlight polishing kit available for around $15 to try to restore the watch face.

    • Use Brasso polishing liquid. It will get that watch face clear and will shine like new when you are done! Works great on scratched plastic watch faces too!

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