How to use Automatic Handwashing Detection on Apple Watch

Handwashing Summary in Health on iPhone

Even before the pandemic of 2020, people knew that washing their hands was important. To reduce the risk of spreading illness, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds is the key. With this in mind, Apple introduced an Apple Watch feature to help.

With Automatic Handwashing Detection in watchOS 7, your Apple Watch can sense when you begin washing your hands. And with that, a 20-second timer begins. This lets you know when time is up and you’re good to go. There is also a setting to remind you to wash your hands when you return home.

Here, we’ll show you how to enable and use the Automatic Handwashing Detection feature as well as check how well you’re doing with your handwashing rituals.

Automatic Handwashing Detection on Apple Watch

Enable the Handwashing Timer

As with many settings for your wearable, you can enable Automatic Handwashing Detection on both Apple Watch and the Watch app on your iPhone.

Turn on the setting on Apple Watch

To enable the feature on your Apple Watch, follow these simple steps.

1) Open the Settings app on your Watch.

2) Scroll down under the list of apps and select Handwashing.

3) Turn on the toggle for Handwashing Timer.

Apple Watch Handwashing Timer on Watch

Turn on the setting on iPhone

If you prefer to use your iPhone to enable this feature or also want to turn on the arrival reminder, open the Watch app on your iPhone and do the following.

1) On the My Watch tab, scroll down and tap Handwashing. This option sits within the list of Apple apps on your Watch.

2) Turn on the toggle for Handwashing Timer.

3) To receive a notification for the timer, enable an option at the top.

Apple Watch Handwashing Timer on iPhone

Now when you wash your hands, your Apple Watch uses a combination of:

…the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect handwashing motions and sounds.

A 20-second timer will begin and count down for you, letting you know when you’re done.

Apple Watch Handwashing Timer

Get a notification to wash hands when returning home

If you’d like a reminder to wash your hands within minutes of arriving at home, turn on the toggle for Handwashing Reminders in Watch on iPhone.

If this option is grayed out, you’ll need to enable Significant Locations in your iPhone settings with these steps.

1) Open your iPhone Settings and tap Privacy.

2) Select Location Services (which must be enabled).

3) Scroll to the bottom and pick System Services.

4) Choose Significant Locations and enable the toggle on the next screen. If Home is not set, you can tap it and add it.

Significant Locations in Privacy in Settings on iPhone

Once you enable Significant Locations, the Handwashing Reminders setting will be available for you to enable back in the Watch app as described above. And the next time you venture out and return home, you should receive a reminder to wash your hands.

For more on Location Services and Significant Locations, check out Understanding iOS Location Services and what they do and How to keep your iPhone from knowing where you are going next.

Check your handwashing stats

After you enable the Automatic Handwashing Detection feature, you might want to see how well you’re doing with it. Are you remembering to wash often? Are you washing for at least 20 seconds? Here’s how to find out.

1) Open the Health app on your iPhone

2) Tap the Browse tab at the bottom.

3) Enter “handwashing” into the search at the top and then select it from the list.

You can then see a helpful graph at the top that shows you your handwashing data. You can view the number of washes detected by day, week, month, or year. You’ll also see the average time overall. Tap a bar on the graph for further details. And if you need to add data manually, for example, maybe you weren’t wearing your Watch at a time you washed your hands, tap Add Data at the top and enter the details.

Handwashing Data in Health on iPhone

To keep this handy, you can add Handwashing to your Health Summary tab. Just tap the star next to Add to Favorites on the Handwashing detail screen. Then when you open the Health app, you’ll see Handwashing under Favorites and can simply tap from there to see your data.

Add Handwashing to Favorites in Health on iPhone

Wrapping it up

Keeping your hands clean and free from germs and bacteria is more crucial now than ever. So if you own an Apple Watch with watchOS 7 or later, be sure to enable and use this handy feature.

What do you think of Automatic Handwashing Detection on the Watch? Will you use it yourself or maybe set it up on an Apple Watch that one of your loved ones wears? Let us know!