watchOS 7: How to Use Handwashing Detection Feature on Apple Watch

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 27 Jul 2020

Apple watch handwash

With watchOS 7, Apple is adding a handwashing detection feature to the Apple Watch. Given the world we live in where frequently washing one’s hands is the new normal, the handwashing feature in Apple Watch on watchOS 7 is handy since it can remind one to periodically wash their hands. Here’s how you can use the handwashing feature on your Apple Watch running watchOS 7.

One might think that Apple got around to working on the handwashing detection feature for Apple Watch in watchOS 7 after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the company confirmed that it has been working on this feature for years, and given how sophisticated its implementation is, there’s little reason to doubt Apple. The good thing is that the automatic handwash detection feature is a part of watchOS 7 and will be available for all compatible Apple Watches.

Handwash Detection on Apple Watch is a part of watchOS 7. You can install the public beta of the OS on your wearable right away if you wish to. watchOS 7 also comes with plenty of other new major features that are worth a look.

Things to Know About Handwashing Detection Feature in Apple Watch

  1. There’s no handwash detection app per se in the Apple Watch that you need to start before you begin washing your hands. Instead, Apple uses various sensors and even the microphone on the Apple Watch to automatically detect when a user is washing their hands.
  2. The handwash detection timer is 20 seconds long and this is not customizable. As per the WHO and CDC guidelines, one must wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds which is why Apple has set this limit as well. And no, it is not easy to fool the timer since Apple is using the data from the microphone as well for this.
  3. If you stop washing your hands before the 20-second timer is up, your Apple Watch will nudge you to continue washing your hands.
  4. You can set your Apple Watch to automatically remind you to wash your hands periodically or when you get back home.

The only thing you need to do before you can use the handwash detection feature in Apple Watch is to enable it. The feature is disabled by default for some reason.

How to Enable and Use Handwashing Detection in Apple Watch

Follow these simple steps to enable and use the Handwashing feature on your Apple Watch running watchOS 7 or later:

Step 1: Go to the Settings app on Apple Watch

Press the Digital Crown on your Apple Watch and go to the Settings app.

Step 2: Enable Timer for Handwashing

Scroll down in the Settings app to Handwashing, tap on it, and enable the Timer option.

Apple watchOS 7 Handwashing

If you wish to, you can also enable a reminder from the Handwash detection feature in the Settings app to automatically remind you to wash your hands when you come back home.

Step 3: Use Handwashing Detection on Your Apple Watch

That’s about it! Now, whenever you wash your hands, your Apple Watch will automatically detect it and start a 20-second timer. If your watch detects that you’ve stopped washing your hands early, it will encourage you to continue for the full 20 seconds.

Apple’s implementation is superior to the handwashing app you will find on other wearables as the company is using motion sensors as well as microphone data to detect whether the user is washing their hands or not. In other wearables, one needs to manually enable the handwashing app which kind of defeats the entire purpose.

Do you think the addition of automatic handwashing detection on the Apple Watch is a useful feature? Or do you think it is just gimmicky? Drop a comment and let us know!