How to turn on handwashing detection on your Apple Watch to track your handwashing activity

Your Apple Watch can now remind you when to wash your hands, and set a timer when you do.Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider
  • You can turn on handwashing detection on an Apple Watch via the watch's Settings app or your iPhone's Watch app.
  • The latest version of the Apple Watch's operating system, watchOS 7, can automatically detect when you're washing your hands.
  • Handwashing detection runs a 20-second timer to help you wash your hands for the minimum amount of time recommended by the World Health Organization.

With a heightened emphasis on health and hygiene in the news, the latest version of the Apple Watch's operating system, watchOS 7, now includes a handwashing detection feature. It automatically senses when you're washing your hands and provides a helpful timer to ensure you keep washing for the time recommended by the World Health Organization — 20 seconds.

As long as you have a compatible version of the Apple Watch, detection is automatic, based on a combination of hand movement and the sound of running water. It's not foolproof, but should automatically detect handwashing the vast majority of the time.

How to check if your Apple Watch has handwashing capability

To turn on handwashing detection, you need to have an Apple Watch Series 4 or higher. Older watches lack the microphone needed to listen for running water. You also need to be running watchOS 7. Your watch should update automatically, but you can also check manually.Advertisement

1. On your iPhone, start the Watch app and tap "General."

2. Tap "Software Update."

3. You should be running watchOS 7. If not, you can install the latest update from this screen.
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How to turn on handwashing detection on a compatible Apple Watch

1. On your watch, press the Digital Crown to see a list of your installed apps.

2. Tap the Settings app. 3. Scroll down and tap "Handwashing."Advertisement

4. Turn it on by swiping the button to the right.

Turn on the handwashing feature from your watch's Settings app.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

5. Your watch will detect when you're washing your hands, and a timer will appear.

A handwashing timer will begin counting down from 20 seconds.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

How to turn on handwashing detection on Apple Watch using an iPhone

If you prefer, you can turn on handwashing detection using your phone. Turning it on from your phone gives you an additional setup option. Advertisement

1. Start the Watch app on your iPhone.

2. Scroll down and tap "Handwashing."

3. Turn on "Handwashing Timer" by swiping the button to the right. Advertisement

4. If you want to be reminded to wash your hands when you return home, turn on "Handwashing Reminders" by swiping the button to the right.
Switch the "Handwashing Reminders" button to the on position.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

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