Hardware watches

How do you get water out of an Apple Watch?

black Apple Watch at 4:45
Wet stuff: how to get your Apple Watch dry again

Every week I go swimming and my Apple Watch seems to take an intense dislike to it. The touchscreen will stop responding or, worse, there will be phantom screen presses (it once did it during the passcode screen and almost locked me out). So how you can get water out of an Apple Watch to stop this happening?

How waterproof are Apple Watches?

The Series 1 is only splash-proof, so definitely don’t plunge that into water. After that, the Watch is waterproof to 50m.

Apple Watch devices can be worn during shallow-water activities, such as swimming in a pool or in the sea. However, Apple warns that the Watch shouldn’t be worn when scuba diving, water skiing or doing other activities that involve high-velocity water or submersion below shallow depth. 

What does the Water Lock option do?

Apple Watches have a feature named Water Lock. If you drag up the Control Centre panel on your Watch, it’s the icon that looks like a water droplet.

It has 2 functions:

  1. When Water Lock is on, your Apple Watch doesn’t respond to touch on its display. This prevents accidental input while you’re in the water.
  2. When you turn off Water Lock, your watch ejects any water that remains in its speaker.

To turn off Water Lock, turn the Digital Crown on the side – the Watch will beep a few times to confirm that it’s now turned off.

Water Lock will also automatically switch on whenever you start a water-based workout.

Why is water affecting my Apple Watch?

There are a couple of known issues where water can affect your Watch that are unrelated to water resistance:

  1. For Apple Watch Series 3 or newer, measurements from the barometric altimeter may be less accurate if water gets into the air vent (for example, during swimming). Normal altimeter performance will return after the water has evaporated.
  2. Water can get into the speaker grill, causing audio to sound muffled. Use of the Water Lock can help, otherwise just giving the water time to evaporate from it can work wonders.

Apple warn that water resistance does wear off over time. I first had issues after around ten months of owning my current one. In all cases, what happened was the same:

  • I was swimming
  • I’d used the Water Lock
  • During the swim I’d stopped and needed to do something on my phone, so turned off Water Lock to do so
  • I turned Water Lock back on and continued my swim
  • Later, with Water Lock back off, I found that the screen was no longer responding correctly

There was no suggestion of water ingress (e.g. water visible under the screen, for example) and, apart from the touchscreen not responding as expected, it was fine. The side buttons, for example, worked correctly and the screen displayed all information properly.

What to do if water affects your Apple Watch

Here’s the official advice from Apple:

  1. Rinse your watch under warm, lightly running, fresh water. 
  2. Wipe off any water with a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth. Don’t use heat, compressed air or sprays.
  3. Clean and dry your Apple Watch, the band and your skin. Don’t insert anything into the openings – for example, the microphone or speaker ports – and don’t shake your Apple Watch to try and remove water.
  4. Allowing your Apple Watch to charge overnight may speed up the evaporation process.

Personally, that last part is important. When I’ve had issues I’ve put it onto charge, as this generates internal heat, clearing any water that’s present. A few hours on the charger and my Watch returns to normal functioning.

Take a screenshot on an Apple Watch

About the author

David Artiss

Currently working for a technology company based in San Francisco, David has worked in IT for nearly 30 years. He is a keen gamer and happily admits to being a gadget nerd too.

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