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How to Use Handwashing Feature on Apple Watch

Here's a guide to use Handwashing feature on your Apple Watch with the 20-second automatic timer and get reminders.

With the watchOS 7 operating system and later versions, Apple has introduced a feature on Apple Watch models that can be very useful: the automatic detection of handwashing. But that’s not all, as Apple Watch can also notify you if you haven’t washed your hands within a certain time when you have come back to your home. This feature works with Apple Watch Series 4 or later models updated with WatchOS 7 or later. So, check out this guide on how to use the handwashing feature on the Apple Watch with the 20-second automatic timer and get reminders.

How to Use Handwashing Feature on Apple Watch (2023)

use Handwashing feature on Apple Watch

During the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the main tips for reducing the chances of being infected by the new Coronavirus is to wash your hands well and correctly for at least 20 seconds, a habit that more generally can help prevent the spread of diseases. Apple therefore promptly got to work to make its Apple Watch useful even during the common practice of hand washing.

Now, the latest Apple Watch with watchOS 7 uses motion sensors, a microphone, and machine learning on the device to automatically detect motion and sounds when washing your hands. When it detects that you are washing your hands, the watch emits a slight vibration and informs you that the 20-second countdown will start. If you stop washing your hands before the timer ends, the watch asks you to continue. Apple Watch can also remind you to wash your hands when you return home, thanks to movement tracking. If the clock screws up and starts a timer when in reality your hands aren’t washing, just close the timer.

However, the new feature is not limited to automatically understanding when the wearer of the Apple Watch is washing their hands and consequently starting a countdown. In fact, handwashing data is synced to your iPhone, with the Health app showing the frequency and duration of handwashing as well as information on how important proper handwashing is.

As far the privacy is concerned, the audio detected by the microphone and used by the watch to understand when the hand washing is in progress is not automatically recorded or saved by the Health app or the Apple Watch.

How to Set up Handwashing Timer on Apple Watch

Automatic hand washing detection is enabled by turning on the “Handwashing” option in the Settings app on the Apple Watch. After doing this, when the Apple Watch detects that you have started washing your hands it starts a 20-second timer. If you stop before the allotted 20 seconds, Apple Watch encourages you to complete the task. It is possible to receive haptic feedback (a slight vibration) that warns you when the pre-established 20 seconds have passed by activating the option on the “Handwashing” screen.

To receive notifications reminding you to wash your hands shortly after returning home, you must first have set a home address in the personal tab in the Contacts app on your iPhone, then you can open the Watch app on your iPhone, then tap Apple Watch, then “Handwashing”, and finally enable “Handwashing Reminders”.

You can also turn on the handwashing reminder on an Apple Watch set up for a family member: just open the Settings app on the Apple Watch, press “Handwashing,” then turn on “Handwashing Reminder” for the Apple Watch desired.

The report on average washing times can be found in the Health app on iPhone, in Browse > Other Data > “Handwashing”.

That is all you need to know about how to use the Handwashing feature on the Apple Watch. In the meantime, do not forget to check out our other Apple Watch Guides.