Handwashing Not Working on Apple Watch? Here’s How to Fix It

The Handwashing feature is an example of how technology can help us with small things that make a huge difference. Using hand motions and the sound of running tap water, your Apple Watch automatically detects when you are washing hands and starts a 20-second timer. However, some times the watchOS 7 Handwashing timer might not work correctly. To help, let us start with the basic solutions and eventually get this problem fixed successfully.

  1. Make Sure Handwashing is Enabled
  2. Do Not Stop Washing to Check the Timer
  3. Restart, or Force Restart Your Apple Watch
  4. Make Sure Microphone is Enabled
  5. Turn ON Significant Locations
  6. List Home Address in your Contact Card
  7. Remove any Cover or Protector
  8. Update to the Latest Software
  9. Unpair and Repair the Apple Watch

1. Make Sure Handwashing is Enabled

By default, this handy feature is disabled. Therefore, the first step is to ensure Handwashing is turned on.

Secondly, only Apple Watch Series 4, Series 5, and the newest Series 6 and SE running watchOS 7 have this option.

Note: Though Series 3 supports watchOS 7, it does not have ambient sound detection, and thus Hand Washing feature (and the Noise app) aren’t available. Many publications falsely mention that Series 3 supports this.

2. Do Not Stop Washing to Check the Timer

When you start washing your hands, the Apple Watch sensors read from your hand movements and the sound of flowing tap water. Soon, the 20-second Handwashing timer automatically starts displaying on the screen.

You do not have to stop washing to check the timer. If you do, it pauses and asks you to continue. So, make sure to keep washing usually. After 20 seconds, you will feel haptic feedback, sound (if you have turned these on), and also see a message on the screen.

3. Restart, or Force Restart Your Apple Watch

One of the quickest fixes to solve the Handwashing problem is to restart the Apple Watch. Switching off and then switching on the wearable takes care of several temporary glitches. In case a simple restart fails to bring success, go ahead with a hard reboot.

4. Make Sure Microphone is Enabled

Handwashing uses the microphone to recognize the sound of tap water. Thus it is essential to ensure that settings for this are perfect.

  1. Press the Digital Crown and tap on the Settings icon from the bubble of apps.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Privacy. Enter the Screen Time passcode, if asked.
  3. Tap on Microphone.open settings tap on privacy and then tap on microphone on apple watch
  4. Make sure the toggle for Measure Sounds is enabled.turn on measure sound to enable microphone on apple watch

5. Turn ON Significant Locations

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone and tap on Privacy.
  2. Tap on Location ServicesSystem Services.tap on privacy and tap on location services then tap on system services
  3. Scroll down to the bottom and tap on Significant Locations. On the next screen, ensure the toggle for Significant Locations is ON.turn on significant locations in settings on iphone

6. List Home Address in your Contact Card

For the Handwashing reminders feature to work correctly, you must have your home address listed in your contact card. After this, Apple Watch can remind you to wash your hands when you reach home.

  1. Open the Contacts app and tap on My Card from the top. You may also open the Phone app and tap on the Contacts tab.
  2. Tap on Edit.open contacts app tap on my card and then tap on edit on iphone
  3. Tap on add address. Fill in all the details and tap on Done.add home address in contact card on iphone

7. Remove any Cover or Protector

Many people use full-body cover or case to protect their expensive Apple Watch. Cases from reputed brands have proper cutouts for the speaker, microphone, and the sensor. However, if you use a fully covered case that blocks the microphone, remove it.

Secondly, you may also consider cleaning the microphone using a soft, tiny brush or cloth. Make sure to take extreme care.

8. Update to the Latest Software

With each watchOS update, Apple brings bug fixes and improvements. To have the best possible user experience, you must have the latest version of watchOS on your Apple Watch. You can easily update straight from your watch or follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Watch app on the companion iPhone and ensure you are in the ‘My Watch‘ tab.
  2. Tap on the GeneralSoftware Update.
  3. Tap on Download and Install or Install Now if you see either.tap on general in my watch tab and tap on software updated then tap on download and install on iphone

Note: If you are running developer or public beta of watchOS, consider switching to the regular (non-beta) version.

9. Unpair and Repair the Apple Watch

Finally, if nothing works, unpair the Apple Watch and pair it again. This will erase everything that is currently on the watch. However, when you unpair using the Watch app, it creates a backup automatically. You can use it to restore and get back the current data.

Signing Off

These are some of the ways to get Handwashing working again on your Apple Watch. I hope the solutions above worked for you. Kindly share your opinion in the comments section below.

People are usually in a hurry, and this handy feature is just a delight to have. Though Handwashing was made available during the pandemic, Apple’s VP of technology, Kevin Lynch, told TechCrunch that this feature was in work for years!

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I have been an Apple user for over seven years now. At iGeeksBlog, I love creating how-tos and troubleshooting guides that help people do more with their iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and Apple Watch. In my free time, I like to watch stand up comedy videos, tech documentaries, news debates, and political speeches.