How to use the hand washing feature on Apple Watch

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The addition of the handwashing timer to watchOS 7 aims to encourage Apple Watch users to properly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. Here’s how to operate the feature, to remind you to keep your hands clean.The current COVID-19 pandemic has pushed organizations and governments around the world to find ways to encourage people to be more hygienic. One idea that has been adopted around the world is to wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds to minimize the risk of infection from touching.

Memes have been released featuring songs and other ways people can use to wash their hands, with social pressure helping to force hand washing in the first place.

With the handwashing feature of watchOS 7, Apple has added a feature to the Apple Watch which is a fairly straightforward concept, namely a timer that appears whenever the user starts washing their hands, from 20 seconds. With the release of watchOS 7, it is now available for activation and use on supported devices.

Handwashing requires users to update their iPhone to run iOS 14, and their Apple Watch on watchOS 7, in order to work.

How to turn hand washing detection on and off through your iPhone

  • Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
  • Under My watch, scroll down and tap Hand washing.
  • Press the button next to Hand wash timer.

Hand washing can be activated in the Watch app on iOS.

How to turn hand washing detection on and off through your Apple Watch

  • Press the Digital Crown and select the Settings app.
  • Scroll down and press Hand washing.
  • Press the button next to Hand wash timer.

The hand wash timer can also be activated directly on the Apple Watch in the Settings app.

How to use the hand washing timer

  • Start wash one’s hands.
  • If Apple Watch detects correct hand movements and the sound of running water, the the timer will appear. It will automatically adjust to have started the timer when it thinks hand washing has started and will display a countdown with the time remaining.
  • Continue washing until the Apple Watch rings and displays a “Thumbs Up” symbol.

You are advised not to bother to stop and watch the timer on the Apple Watch, as it will stop the countdown and may stop the timer altogether. AppleInsider encountered situations where the timer stopped abruptly, such as saving water as a screen faucet, which may be a problem for some users.

In addition to the default timer, Apple has also included handwashing reminders, which will use location tracking to determine if the user has been outside the house and returned. The reminder is to encourage users to wash their hands when they arrive home, again to minimize any transfer of bacteria or viruses to other family members as they enter the home.

How to turn hand washing notifications on and off through your iPhone

  • Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
  • Under My watch, scroll down and tap Hand washing.
  • Make sure the toggle next to Hand wash timer is enabled to display the Handwashing Reminders toggle.
  • Press the button next to Hand washing reminders.

With handwashing being an important part of staying healthy, especially in today’s COVID-19 climate, the Apple Watch collects data on handwashing activities. This includes when the timer is on, the number of times the user successfully reaches 20 seconds, the average time spent washing hands, and other data that can be examined over a longer period of time.

How to View Handwashing Data on iPhone

  • Open the Health app.
  • If it does not appear on the Summary page when accessing the application, select Browse.
  • To select Other information.
  • To select Hand washing.
The Health app records how often and for how long you wash your hands.

The Health app records how often and for how long you wash your hands.

Like other metrics tracked by the app, users can see how many times they have washed their hands per day, week, month, or year, along with duration, averages, and even time-stamped data. This feature can be particularly useful for families, as parents can check if their children are washing their hands sufficiently throughout the day.

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