HomeLaundryHow Long Does a Washing Machine Take to Wash Clothes?

How Long Does a Washing Machine Take to Wash Clothes?

Laundry is a hassle for most of us, even though we have the help of highly efficient washing machines and tumble dryers. Waiting for a washing cycle to finish sometimes seems like an eternity, especially if you want to leave the house but don’t want the laundry to sit wet in the washer for hours. 

How long are average wash cycles and what can you do to speed them up? 

How Long Does a Washing Machine Take to Wash Clothes?

A normal wash cycle usually takes around an hour. Quick wash cycles are around 15 minutes long, while delicate cycles can take around 45 minutes. Heavy duty or sanitise cycles will take around 2 hours. 

How long a washing machine will need to wash a load of laundry naturally depends on the model and the settings you choose. 

For example, my Bosch washer has an eco mode and a speed perfect function. Eco mode will lengthen any cycle in order to save electricity, while speed perfect will shorten all cycles but the quick wash. If you add a prewash, the cycle will be even longer. It’s this one, in case you were wondering. 

Depending on your requirements and the time you have available, you can find a combination that works. Most newer models also have a delay start function, so you can set it up to finish at a time that is convenient for you. Leaving dry clothes in the washer is much better than letting them sit in there wet, so this really can be a lifesaver. 

How Long Is a Quick Wash Cycle?

A quick wash cycle takes around 15 minutes, depending on the machine. It works well for small loads that are only lightly soiled and just need a bit of a refresh.

This is the fastest load on most washing machines, and is not suitable for either large loads or soiled and stained clothing. If you are able to adjust the spin speed and lower it to 400 or 600 RPM and adjust the temperature, you can even use it for your delicates, as these items require a low spin and temperature. 

Most quick wash cycles come with a rather vigorous spin at the end, so make sure you reduce it based on the requirements of the load. Check the care label on your items to determine what the best one will be. 

How Long Is a Delicate Wash Cycle?

A delicate wash cycle is usually between 45 minutes and 1 hour and 20 minutes long. It’s recommended for lingerie, dress shirts and pants, wool items, and anything made of lace, silk or linen. 

Delicate cycles are slow and calm and there is very little agitation to the items. The temperature also tends to be low. 

Some washing machines only have delicate cycles, while others also have hand wash cycles which are even slower. 

How Long Is a Heavy-Duty Wash Cycle?

A heavy-duty wash cycle will last anywhere between 1 hour and 2 hours and 15 minutes. It’s used for heavily soiled or large items, like bedsheets. 

This cycle will usually be preset to a higher temperature and spin, so you may need to adjust it if you want to save energy or wash time. Reducing temperatures can also keep your towels soft, so don’t necessarily agree with the machine’s recommendation. Tinker with the settings and see what best works with your detergent and water quality. 

How Long Is a Cotton Wash Cycle? 

A cotton wash cycle can last anywhere between 1 hour and 30 minutes and 4 hours, with prewash. It’s used for bedding, towels and cotton clothing. 

This cycle is usually pre-set to higher temperatures and higher spin speeds, resulting in more agitation during wash. Don’t use it for washing materials that are more delicate than pure cotton, as even a lot of cotton blends and synthetic materials can get damaged over time and shrink in the wash

How Long Is a Synthetics Wash Cycle? 

A synthetics wash cycle can take anywhere between 1 hour and 3 hours. It’s used for most materials other than cotton, including polyester and cotton blends. 

In theory, this is the cycle you will be using most often, as it is not as harsh on clothes as the cotton cycle, and can handle various levels of staining and soiling. Make sure to once again adjust the temperatures and spin speed to the items you’ve actually thrown in there. 

For example, if I’m washing a truly mixed load, I’ll take the temperature down to 30 degrees. But if it’s just pants, I may leave it up at 40 degrees, as I know it won’t damage them. 

How Long Is a Sanitise Wash Cycle?

A sanitise wash cycle will take between 1 hour and 30 minutes and 2 hours. It involves submerging all of the items in extremely hot temperatures, aiming to kill bacteria.

Not all washers have this cycle, but if yours does, use it on your bedding and towels every so often. 

How Long Is a Whites Cycle? 

A whites cycle can take between 1 hour and 30 minutes and 3 hours, and usually washes your clothing at lower temperatures. 

The aim of this cycle, which is not a very common one and most washers don’t have it, is to get rid of stains at lower temperatures. This is why it lasts so long, as it needs to do several rounds of washing and rinsing to achieve the desired effect.

How Long Is a Hand Wash Cycle? 

A hand wash cycle can run between 45 minutes and 1 hours and 30 minutes. It’s used for extremely delicate items that require low temperatures and low spin speeds.

While this cycle is a very gentle one, you may want to skip it if your item asks for washing by hand. It’s perfectly fine for delicates that can go in the wash, but everything that’s super fine and flimsy or likely to shrink is better not put in the drum at all. 

What Is the Shortest Cycle On a Washing Machine?

The shortest cycle on a washing machine is the quick wash cycle, which is typically around 15 minutes long. It’s great for light loads that just need a bit of a refresh. 

With some machines you can also significantly shorten other cycles and get them down to around 30 minutes. 

How Long Is the Spin Cycle On a Washing Machine?

The average spin cycle will be between 2 and 4 minutes long, but it will depend on the washer and spin speed how long it actually takes to remove the water from your clothes. 

The size of the load and the temperature of the water will also play a role in spin cycle length, as will the material the clothes are made of. 

Factors That Impact Washing Machine Cycle Times 

Every washing machine will have different cycle times. Here’s why:

  • Every manufacturer has their own design and will make cycles differently. Different models of the same brand will also have different cycle times. 
  • Larger loads will usually take longer than smaller ones. 
  • Hotter cycles will also take longer than cold ones. 
  • If you change any of the settings of a predefined cycle, the required time will also vary. 

Cycle times don’t impact the quality of the wash though, so don’t worry if it takes longer (or not as long). Longer, colder, slower washes will be more eco-friendly and just as effective as shorter, more powerful washes. 

Why Are Washing Machine Cycles So Long?

Modern washing machine cycles are long because they aim to use less water per load and be more energy efficient, as longer washes also require less energy. 

Less energy is used to heat less water, which results in lower energy consumption, lowering your bills and the strain on your local power plant. Since there is less water, the cycle will take longer. 

Top loading washing machines have shorter cycles because they use more water and are less energy efficient. Front loading washers need more time, but they are also kinder on the environment. 

How Do Star Ratings Affect Washing Machine Cycle Times?

High washing machine star ratings usually mean its cycle times will be longer, as it will need more time to wash a load using less water and electricity. 

Washing machines that are extremely efficient will, perhaps paradoxically, have lower star ratings, as they consume more energy and water to be as fast. 

If you want to cut down on cycle time, you can buy a machine with a lower energy star rating, but know that it will ultimately cost you more in utility bills. On the other hand, a machine with a higher rating will often come with the option of shortening cycles, so you can to an extent have your cake and eat it too. 

How To Save Time Washing the Laundry 

No matter how fast (or slow) your washing machine is, you will want to save time on doing the laundry. Here’s what you can try:

  • Wash stainless clothing: if you remove any stains before washing the item with a soak or a stain removing product, you will save time and energy as you will only need to wash it once to get rid of the stain. Personally, I use Vanish
  • Use the shortest appropriate cycle: if your clothing is only sweaty and not actually soiled or stained, use the shortest possible cycle to wash it. Shorten the appropriate program, and separate your clothing based on level of soiledness as well as colour and material. 
  • Use the highest appropriate spin speed: you can also up the spin speed to remove excess water from your clothing to speed up drying times. However, be very careful here, as the wrong spin speed can ruin some items, so always check the label and use a spin speed that’s not as fast as you think you may be able to get away with. 
  • Schedule your cycles: most modern washers come with a delay timer, so you can set your cycle to end at a time when you will be able to handle it right away. 
  • Wash full loads: washing smaller loads means you will need to do more of them. While there will of course be times when you have to wash a half-empty machine (with your delicates, for example), aim to fill it up when doing bedding, towels, cottons and everyday items. 

Wrapping It Up 

Washing machine cycles sometimes seem to be inordinately long. However, with just a bit of organisation and better time management, you can become more efficient at doing the laundry and making the most of all the different programs your appliance has to offer. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular posts