Handwashing WatchOS 8 Not Working? Here’s How to Fix It

Handwashing is an essential daily routine, and with the introduction of smartwatches like the Apple Watch, keeping track of our hygiene has gotten even easier. However, if you’ve updated to watchOS 8 and found that the handwashing feature isn’t working as it should, you’re not alone. Let’s dig into how to troubleshoot this issue so you can get back to tracking your sudsing sessions with ease.

Step by Step Tutorial on Fixing Handwashing on watchOS 8

Before we roll up our sleeves and start troubleshooting, let’s understand what we’re aiming for. The steps below will help you fix the handwashing feature on your Apple Watch running watchOS 8, ensuring that it accurately detects and times your handwashing.

Step 1: Check that Handwashing is Enabled

Make sure the handwashing feature is turned on in your Apple Watch settings.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the correct one. If handwashing detection isn’t working, it could be because it’s not enabled. To check, open the Watch app on your iPhone, go to ‘Handwashing’ and make sure the ‘Handwashing Timer’ is toggled on.

Step 2: Ensure Proper Wrist Detection

Confirm that wrist detection is activated on your Apple Watch.

Wrist detection is crucial for the handwashing feature to work. This setting can be found in the Watch app under ‘Passcode’. Make sure that ‘Wrist Detection’ is turned on, which also helps with general security and receiving notifications.

Step 3: Update to the Latest watchOS

Update your Apple Watch to ensure you have the latest version of watchOS.

Bugs and glitches can sometimes be resolved by simply updating to the latest software version. Go to the Watch app, tap ‘General’, then ‘Software Update’ to check if there’s a new version available for your Apple Watch.

Step 4: Restart Your Apple Watch

Turn off and then turn on your Apple Watch.

Like many electronic devices, sometimes a good old-fashioned restart can do the trick. To restart your Apple Watch, press and hold the side button until the ‘Power Off’ slider appears, drag the slider, then press and hold the side button again to turn it back on.

Step 5: Calibrate Your Apple Watch

Calibrate your Apple Watch for better accuracy in detecting handwashing motions.

Calibration helps your Apple Watch understand your specific movements better. To calibrate, open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap ‘Privacy’, then ‘Motion & Fitness’ and follow the instructions for calibration.

After completing these steps, you should find that your Apple Watch’s handwashing feature is working correctly again. It will automatically detect when you’re washing your hands and start a 20-second timer, encouraging you to scrub for the recommended amount of time to kill germs effectively.

Tips for Maintaining Handwashing Detection on watchOS 8

  • Make sure your Apple Watch has a snug fit on your wrist; the sensors work best when they have consistent contact with your skin.
  • Regularly check for updates in the Watch app to keep your system running smoothly.
  • If you’re having continuous issues, consider unpairing and then re-pairing your Apple Watch with your iPhone.
  • Keep your Apple Watch clean, as dirt or debris can interfere with the sensors.
  • Use the handwashing feature regularly to help it learn your habits and improve detection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Apple Watch not detecting handwashing after the update?

It could be due to a setting that’s been turned off or a glitch from the update itself. Try the troubleshooting steps mentioned earlier to resolve the issue.

The watchOS 8 update may sometimes cause settings to reset or disable, so it’s always good to double-check that the handwashing feature is enabled, and your watch is properly calibrated.

Can I manually start the handwashing timer on my Apple Watch?

No, the handwashing feature is designed to automatically detect handwashing motion and sounds.

The technology within the Apple Watch uses motion sensors and microphones to detect the specific movements and sounds of handwashing. Unfortunately, there’s no manual option to start the timer.

How long is the handwashing timer on the Apple Watch?

The handwashing timer is set for 20 seconds, following the guidelines from health organizations.

Twenty seconds is the recommended time to ensure you’ve thoroughly cleaned your hands, which is why the Apple Watch is designed to encourage this duration.

Will the handwashing feature work if my hands are not under running water?

The feature may not work as well because it relies on the sound of running water as one of its detection methods.

For best results, make sure you’re washing your hands under running water. The combination of sound and movement helps the Apple Watch accurately detect handwashing.

What should I do if the handwashing feature is still not working after following all the steps?

Consider contacting Apple Support for further assistance.

If you’ve tried all the troubleshooting steps and your handwashing feature still isn’t working, there might be a deeper issue that Apple Support can help resolve.


  1. Check that Handwashing is Enabled
  2. Ensure Proper Wrist Detection
  3. Update to the Latest watchOS
  4. Restart Your Apple Watch
  5. Calibrate Your Apple Watch


Having the handwashing feature not work on your Apple Watch can be a bit of a headache, especially considering the times we’re living in. But worry not, because most of the time, it’s a quick fix. Whether it’s checking for the latest updates, ensuring your settings are correct, or simply giving your watch a reboot, these steps should help you sort out any issues and get your handwashing tracker up and running in no time. Remember, keeping your hands clean is crucial for your health, and your trusty Apple Watch is there to help you do just that. So, roll up your sleeves, dive into these troubleshooting tips, and let’s get that handwashing feature back on track!