Most of us are now aware that the simple act of washing our hands plays an important role in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Medical experts and doctors advise washing the hands with soap for at least 20 seconds to keep the SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering the body, mainly because we tend to touch so many objects that might be contaminated.
Although, a lot of people have been using this technique, timing your hand wash could prove a bit tricky for some. Of course, you can use a stopwatch or the timer on your phone or you can sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself TWICE, but there's now a much easier way, if you have a smartwatch.
Google's Hand Wash Timer for smartwatches running Watch OS
Google has rolled out an update to the Google Clock app for Wear OS, the OS of choice on most popular non-Apple smartwatches in order to get users to properly and regularly wash their hands. What the update brings is a new "Hand Wash Timer."
Once you update the Clock app on your smartwatch, the new "Hand Wash Timer" shortcut appears in the app drawer, and tapping the shortcut brings up the new hand washing timer.
There is a 3-2-1 countdown before the 40-second timer begins, and it is represented by a progress ring around the outside of the display. You can tap the 'X' button to stop the timer at any time or once you rinse off the soap. Upon finishing your hand wash, the app will show that it will remind you to wash your hands again after three hours. The CDC guidelines recommend washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, and 40 is even better.
Samsung Hand Wash app for Galaxy smartwatch
Samsung, which manufactures the popular Galaxy smartwatches, is also doing its part and has released a similar app for its smartwatches.
Dubbed "Hand Wash," Samsung's app is slightly different from that of Google's, in that it is a stand-alone app rather than an extra feature inside the existing Clock app. Unlike Google's Hand Wash Timer feature, you will have to manually search and install the Samsung app from the Galaxy Store.
Hand wash app Watch Face
On the plus side, Samsung's Hand Wash app has more features than Google's. For one, the app can be set as your 'Watch Face' or dial, which makes it much easier to quickly launch the app.
The Hand Wash watch face shows how many times you've washed your hands and how long it has been since you last washed your hands. While Google's app has a 40-second timer, Samsung's Hand Wash timer is set at 25 seconds, which is still 5 seconds longer than what the CDC recommends. The timer animation is similar to Google's with the progress ring around the outside of the display and the watch will vibrate to alert you when the time's up.
Besides, when you launch the app from the app drawer you could manually enter how many times you have washed your hands.
Know your hand wash habits
The app also comes with a chart that displays the frequency of your hand wash on each day of the week and the weekly average with the help of bars. The app will also remind you to wash your hands regularly and it comes with eight reminders by default but you can add more or delete up to three reminders depending on your need.
Samsung's Hand app is available for all Samsung Galaxy smartwatches, including some of the older Galaxy "Gear" series smartwatches.
Both Google's and Samsung's hand wash timer apps could prove very helpful for those of us who need a little extra nudge to wash our hands properly and more often. Although, hand washing has gained more importance and attention in recent months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we should make washing hands a regular habit, pandemic or not.
Meanwhile, the CDC recommends following these five steps every time you wash your hands.
CDC hand washing guidelines
• Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
• Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
• Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
• Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
• Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.