How to command your iPhone to play music for 20 seconds while you wash your hands

Key Points
  • Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent germs, especially the coronavirus, from spreading.
  • For best results, the CDC recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • A new mini-program from Apple will play 20 seconds of your favorite song so you can be sure you're washing your hands long enough. 
Apple's handwashing macro inside the Shortcuts app.
Kif Leswing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hand washing as one of the best ways to prevent germs — especially the Covid-19 coronavirus — from spreading.

But for best results, you have to wash your hands correctly, and that includes scrubbing them for 20 seconds. The CDC recommends humming "Happy Birthday" twice to get the timing right. 

But how many times can you do that before getting sick of singing that same old song? To help you, Apple has released a new feature that will play your own music for 20 seconds while you scrub away.

Here's how it works:

1. Make sure you have Apple's Shortcuts app. This allows your iPhone to run very small programs that link together functions from other apps. It's pre-installed on more recent iPhones but you may have to download it from Apple's App Store.

2. Get the proper shortcut from Apple's gallery. You can search for "Washing Hands Music" inside the Shortcuts app, browse to find it, or download it from this link

3. There are a couple of ways to activate the shortcut. The easiest way is to say "Hey Siri, Washing Hands Music." You can also press the "Washing Hands Music" button inside the Shortcuts app or add an icon to your home screen.

4. It'll play a song for 20 seconds — the exact amount of hand-washing time the CDC recommends. By default, it plays the most recent song you were playing, but you can set it to play a specific song you like instead. You can also lengthen the amount of time on the timer. 

Siri also now directly links to the latest Covid-19 news from outlets such as NPR, CNN and BBC World News and can answer specific questions about the number of coronavirus cases in your country or state, Apple said. 

Tito's Handmade Vodka producing, donating tons of hand sanitizer
Tito's Handmade Vodka producing, donating tons of hand sanitizer