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How to use the handwashing feature in watchOS 7

watchOS 7 includes a handwashing feature. No, it won’t enable your Apple Watch to actually wash your hands, but it’s designed to make sure you do a good job of washing ‘em yourself.

Washing hands properly for at least 20 seconds can help prevent the spread of illness. With watchOS 7, an Apple Watch uses the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect handwashing motions and sounds. It then initiates a 20-second countdown timer. If the user finishes early, they will be prompted to keep washing. Apple Watch can also conveniently remind the user to wash their hands when they return home.

The Health app on iPhone will show frequency and duration of the user’s handwashing, as well as information on the importance of handwashing, as it relates to overall health. Sounds used to detect handwashing are not automatically recorded or saved by the Health app or Apple Watch.

To set up handwashing on your Apple Watch:

° Open the Settings app  on your Apple Watch.

° Tap Handwashing, then turn on Handwashing Timer.

When Apple Watch detects that you’ve started washing your hands, it starts a 20-second timer. If you stop washing in fewer than 20 seconds, you’re encouraged to finish the job. To feel taps when you’ve washed long enough, turn on Haptics in the Handwashing screen.

Your Apple Watch can remind you to wash your hands shortly after returning home. To have it do so:

° Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

° Tap My Watch, tap Handwashing, then turn on Handwashing Reminders.

What’s more, on an Apple Watch set up for a family member, you can also turn on handwashing reminders. Open the Settings app  on the Apple Watch, tap Handwashing, then turn on Handwashing Reminders.

To receive handwashing reminders, you must set a home address in your My Card in the Contacts app on iPhone.

To see a report of your average handwashing times, open the Health app on your iPhone, go to Browse > Other Data, then tap Handwashing.

(This how-to is based on my experiences and info on Apple’s support pages — where the images sometimes come from.)

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.