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Is your Apple Watch waterproof? Here's what you need to know

We'll break down what you can and can't do with Apple's wearable on your wrist, from swimming to washing dishes.

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Track your swims in the Activity app on your Apple Watch. 
Angela Lang/CNET

We've been programmed to keep our favorite gadgets away from water at all costs, especially if it's an expensive piece of tech. But with most Apple Watch models, you don't have to worry about getting it a little wet while washing your hands or if you forget to take it off before jumping into a swimming pool. Heck, all of the newer models can withstand saltwater. It even has a fancy water ejection feature that's downright fun to use. 

There are, however, some limits you need to know about. Anything that involves high-pressure water, like water skiing, is a no-go. 

Deciphering water resistance and waterproof ratings can be headache-inducing, but we've taken on that burden and broken down all of the do's and don'ts for getting your Apple Watch wet. Below you'll find what you can and can't do with your Apple Watch around water. 

Read more: Apple Watch Series 7: We put Apple's water and dust resistance claims to the test

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If you have a newer Apple Watch, it's perfectly fine to go for a swim with it on. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Early Apple Watch models are less water resistant

The first-generation Apple Watch -- sometimes referred to as Series 0 -- and the second-generation Apple Watch, the Series 1, aren't really made to handle more than the occasional splash. Apple does not recommend submerging either model at all, as the speaker and microphone can get damaged. (If you're unsure which model you have, flip your Apple Watch over so you can see the bottom of it. There's fine print around the sensors that includes the model name.) 

If you do go for a dip with these first Apple Watch models, you'll need to take the watch off and place it on its side with the speaker facing down. The speaker is on the left side of the housing. This will allow any water inside the cavity to drain out. Do not use a can of compressed air, or any other tool, to remove the water, as you can cause damage.

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These Apple Watch models are designed for swimming

As Apple's approach to the Apple Watch matured, going from an extension of your iPhone to a health and fitness device, its capabilities have followed. Newer Apple Watch models are not only waterproof, but they're specifically designed for swimming. Here's a complete list of the current Apple Watch models that you can use in the pool without a second thought:

These models have a water resistance ISO rating of 22810:2010, which means they're designed to withstand water at up to 50 meters (164 feet) of depth. 

Even with that rating, Apple doesn't recommend wearing the watch when scuba diving or water skiing. You want to avoid a situation where water can be forced into ports of the watch at high speed or high depths.

Wearing the watch in fresh or ocean water is fine, just remember to rinse off your watch with fresh water (from a faucet turned low) after swimming in the ocean to remove any salt. Be sure to rotate the Digital Crown to remove any debris as you do.

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Wearing it in the shower isn't the best idea, according to Apple. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Be mindful of your Apple Watch band 

Not all Apple Watch bands are meant to get wet. According to Apple, the classic buckle, leather loop, modern buckle, Milanese and link bracelet bands aren't water resistant. Instead, you can spend a few dollars on a cheap band from Amazon, or get one of Apple's sport or sport loop bands.

Remember to turn on the water lock before going for a dip

Your Apple Watch may have a built-in water lock to help keep your screen from activating while wet.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

When swimming, get into the habit of activating Water Lock on the Apple Watch. The feature prevents water from activating the touchscreen on your watch. I have accidentally sent messages full of gibberish when swimming in my pool because I forgot to turn on Water Lock. 

Starting a Swim exercise activity automatically enables Water Lock. Otherwise, you can activate Water Lock in the Control Center (swipe up from the bottom of the screen on your watch face) and tap on the water drop icon.

To disable Water Lock you'll need to turn the Digital Crown on your watch until you begin to hear a series of beeps. The noise emitted from the speaker is used to blow out any water inside the cavity.

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Don't forget to turn on Water Lock, and then give your watch a rinse once you're done swimming. 

Angela Lang/CNET

As the saying goes: Better safe than sorry

Even though the Series 2 and newer are designed to withstand fresh water, it's a good idea not to wear yours in the shower. Not only can a shower put out high-velocity water, but Apple says the chemicals in shampoos and soaps can deteriorate the watch's water resistance.

Other chemicals to avoid include perfume, bug repellent, lotion, sunscreen, hair dye and oil. If you do get some on your watch, rinse it off with fresh water. Again, rotate the digital crown while you rinse your watch off, just to make sure any chemicals between the crown and the housing are removed.

Also, it's a good idea to avoid wearing your watch in a sauna or steam room, as the heat can also impact the longevity of its water resistance.

If you're relatively new to the Apple Watch, we have a series of guides to help you get started and master your new wearable. If you're an Apple Watch veteran, make sure to check out the new features Apple added in WatchOS 8what's new for the Apple Watch Series 7 and how it's different from the Apple Watch Series 6.