How To Use The Handwashing Feature on Apple Watch

by | 11/08/2021 3:21 pm
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The Apple Watch can remind you when to wash your hands! Here’s how to use it!


Wondering how to use the handwashing feature on Apple Watch? You’ve come to the right place!

Your mother always told you to wash your hands and for good reason! Hand washing not only removes dirt from your skin but can help prevent the transmission of germs and viruses. As a matter of fact, reminders to wash your hands have been going long and strong for over a year now thanks to the global pandemic.

With the launch of watchOS 7 last year Apple introduced a new Handwashing feature for the Apple Watch. Apple was likely working on the handwashing feature long before the pandemic began, however, its appearance on all Apple Watches that run watchOS 7 couldn’t have been more timely.

How To Use The Handwashing Feature on Apple Watch
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Image: Apple

The handwashing feature on the Apple Watch has two main functions. First, your Apple Watch will now be able to sense when you are washing your hands and begin a countdown timer that encourages you to wash your hands for the full timeframe.

Second, the Apple Watch’s handwashing feature can remind you to wash your hands when you return home, ensuring any germs or viruses on them are wiped clean before you get too comfortable in your house.

How Does The Apple Watch Handwashing Feature Work?

Apple’s handwashing feature on the Apple Watch is pretty ingenious. The Apple Watch knows your washing your hands thanks to the unique movement your hands make when being washed and the sound of the water as it flows from the faucet and splashes around your palms.

In other words, the Apple Watch’s motion sensor keep an eye out for a very specific motion that signals the action you are taking right now is most likely hand washing. 

However, in order to confirm you’re actually washing your hands and not, say fly fishing, the Apple Watch’s microphone also listens for the unique sound of water flowing onto and hitting your hands. If both these conditions are met, the Apple Watch activates the Handwashing countdown timer.

How To Use The Handwashing Feature on Apple Watch

Using the handwashing feature on the Apple Watch is easy! It’s not actually an app, but rather a built-in feature to the operating system watchOS 7 (it will also be part of watchOS 8 and later Apple Watch operating systems.

How To Use The Handwashing Feature on Apple Watch
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Image: Apple

In order to use it, in other words, your Apple Watch will need to be running watchOS 7 or later. Apple Watches capable of this include the following:

If you’ve got one of those Apple Watches, simply do the following:

  1. Start washing your hands.
  2. After a few seconds, you’ll see an alert pop up on your Apple Watch that features a countdown timer in the form of soap bubbles. The timer will countdown from 20 to 0, at which point you’ve washed your hands for the recommended twenty seconds.
  3. After the timer reaches 0 you can stop washing your hands and tap the Done button on the timer countdown screen (you don’t need to tap Done, however, as the screen will also go away on its own).

Do keep in mind that the Apple Watch checks to see that you’re washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds. However, sometimes the Apple Watch might not pick up that you’re washing your hands right away. 

But fret not! If it takes the Apple Watch four seconds to pick up you’ve been washing your hands that long, the timer will start at 16 and not 20. Pretty clever, right?

Settings For The Handwashing Feature on Apple Watch

The Handwashing feature on the Apple Watch is enabled by default, but you can shut it off or disable the reminder to wash your hands when you get home. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Watch app on the iPhone.
  2. Tap Handwashing.
  3. Toggle the switch to OFF (white) next to Handwashing Timer to disable hand washing recognition.
  4. Toggle the switch to OFF (white) next to Handwashing Reminders to disable notifications to wash your hands when you return home.

Check out How To Make A FaceTime Call On Your Apple Watch, too!

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