Dishwasher Cycle Time Comparison [Everything You Need to Know]

In this article, we bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about dishwasher cycles: The different types of dishwasher cycles, their deliberated use cases and most importantly, the estimated running time that each specific cycle will take to complete a full wash.

Key Takeaways

  • Different Types of Dishwasher Cycles: Modern dishwashers offer a wide range of cycles to meet specific cleaning needs. These include Normal Cycle, Quick Wash, Heavy Wash, Sensor Cycle, Eco Wash, Delicate Cycle, Sanitize, Pre-Wash, and High-Temperature Cycle.
  • Average Dishwasher Cycle Time: The average cycle time for modern dishwashers is 2 to 3+ hours, influenced by federal energy and water use guidelines.
  • Reasons for Long Cycle Times: Modern dishwashers are designed to run longer to compensate for less water and energy used, in line with energy efficiency standards.
Dishwasher Cycle Time Comparison

What is a dishwasher cycle?

A dishwasher cycle is simply a programmed operation that’s designed to run for a definite period of time, using the exact amount of water and energy to automatically break down the grime and grease on your dishes. 

The process begins by a discharge pump emptying the water that remained in the appliance during the previous wash. 

Water is then introduced into the reservoir at the base of the dishwasher. A float is activated and energy is puffed up to heat up the water. The expanded energy depends on the type of cycle you select.

Once the reservoir is filled up, a pump relentlessly sprays water and detergent all over the dishes using just about enough force to whisk the food debris that’s normally left on the surface of your dishes.

At the end of a successful wash and rinse, the cycle ends by the discharge pump draining  the water out, leaving your dishes shiny and grime-free.

What is the average dishwasher cycle time?

Older dishwashers could take significantly less time to get the dishes done. As little as 45 minutes or so. Then came the ever-transitioning technology and the new federal energy and water use guidelines.

The new guidelines called for strict water and energy usage. Energy and water use standards were set. Standards that manufacturers had to meet to get an energy star certification for their appliances. 

Modern dishwashers use slighter energy and water, an advantage that comes at the expense of the appliance’s running time. 

On average, a typical modern dishwasher cycle should take 2 to 3+ hours to complete a full wash.

However, the time can vary depending on the type of cycle that you’ll choose, the model of your dishwasher and most of all, how dirty your load is.

open dishwasher

Different dishwasher cycles and how long they last.

Modern dishwashers have a wide range of cycles, each uniquely designed to meet specific cleaning needs. The cycles use different amounts of water and energy to run. The run time also varies based on dishwasher brand and model.

Below are some of the most commonly used wash cycles. And even though not all of them will necessarily be available on your machine, you can always consult your user manual  to familiarize yourself with what option to use in which case.

Dishwasher cycleIntended Use CaseEstimated Run Time
Normal CycleNormal averagely soiled dishes.1.5-2 hours
Sensor Cycle/Auto/SmartWashMixed load with different soil levels2-3.5 hours
QuickWash/1-Hour/Rapid/Turbo Wash Lightly soiled dishes30 minutes to 1 hour
Heavy cycle/Intensive/Pots & PansHeavily soiled plates, pans & pots with baked-on food and grime.3-4 hours
Pre Wash/Rinse CycleLoosening soil particles on the dishes5-8 minutes
Delicate/Glass/Light/China cycleAveragely soiled fragile items1-1.5 hours
Eco cycleEco-friendly for Mixed loads with different soil levels3-4 hours
High temp cycleHeavily soiled dishes2-3 hours
SanitizeSterilizing items such as cutting boards and baby bottles.3-4 hours

What brands have the fastest dishwasher cycle?

Today, there are dozens of dishwasher brands. Going through them to find one that you can heavily rely on can be a daunting task. 

Brands such as Asko understand the essence of time. That’s why their Quick Wash Cycle takes an average of 20 minutes to clean lightly soiled dishes. 

Similar to Bosch Benchmark, GE and LG, Thermador’s DWHD 770 WFP has a 30 minutes Express Cycle. 

Other brands with the fastest cycles include:              

  • Signature kitchen suite(SKS)   SKSDW2401S with a 34 minutes express wash and 1.35-3.35 normal wash.
  • Cafe Apliance’s CTD805P2NS1 with a 1.15-1.50 normal wash     
  • Beko’s express wash which stands at 35 minutes

Whirlpool,  KitchenAid, Samsung and Miele are among the premium brands that offer not only the high-end dishwashers but also the fastest and most efficient in the market.

Choosing the best dishwasher cycle to use.

Most state-of-the-art dishwashers feature a variety of settings for multiple cleaning needs. This leaves a lot of room for confusion when it comes to choosing the best, or rather the most appropriate cycle to use.

The best dishwasher cycle to use is an intuitive matter and it is determined by a number of factors. For instance, how dirty and how heavy is your load? How fast do you need your dishes cleaned up?

  • Normal Cycle: If you are like most dishwasher users, you/you’ll probably use this Cycle for your daily general cleaning. A normal cycle will conveniently clean your averagely soiled dishes without using extra water, heat or stretched run times. 
  • Quick wash: if you need clean dishes ASAP and wouldn’t mind spending a little extra energy and water, a Quick Wash/1 Hour Cycle is your go-to cycle.  This cycle makes use of large bursts of water, extra energy and heat to whack your lightly soiled dishes In just an hour(or less in some models).
  • Heavy Wash: For your heavily soiled pans and pots, there is the Heavy Wash option. The cycle offers solid cleaning power for a typical baked-on food and grime. It makes use of extra water and higher temperatures to tackle the heavy remnants that would otherwise require soaking.
  • Sensor Cycle: If you are unsure about the best cycle for your mixed items with different soil levels, a Sensor Cycle otherwise called the Auto or SmartWash will decide for you. The cycle detects the dirt on your dishes and automatically adjusts the settings accordingly; applying the exact required water, time and temperature to get the job done.
  • Eco Wash: for environmentalists, there is something for you. Eco Wash. This cycle uses less water at lower temperatures, saving on resources and money. However, less water and energy is compensated by longer wash periods.
  • Delicate cycle: If you are concerned about your china breaking, there is the Delicate Cycle, also referred to as Glass or Light Cycle, designed specifically to watch over your delicate and priceless items.
  • Sanitize: For sterilizing the Sanitize Cycle will do just that. The cycle is defaulted at 150 degrees F and is said to remove 99.99% of bacteria.
  • Pre- Wash cycle–With the pre-wash cycle, you won’t have to pre soak your dishes in the sink before loading them into the dishwasher. The cycle saves time by soaking the dishes with dried or baked-on food before washing them.
  • The high temperature cycle is a good option to tackle tough baked-on food or greasy residue on your dishes.

Why do dishwashers take so long to complete a full cycle?

How frustrating can it be when you’re expecting guests in the next, let’s say, 2 hours and at this point your dishwasher decides to choose the go-slow mode, stretching beyond 3  hours?

Dishwashers taking long to complete a full cycle is the most frequently asked question and the top most concern about dishwashers. If you are concerned about long dishwasher running times, you’re not alone.

Generally, a typical wash should take 2 hours (or less depending on the brand) to 4 hours. But sometimes you find the machine running longer. This could mean two things:

  • That there’s literally nothing wrong with your washer; it’s the dishes that are extremely dirty.
  • Certain conditions such as faulty sensors are causing the unusually long operating hours.

Apart from the fact that modern dishwashers are designed to typically run for longer hours in order to compensate for the less water and energy, the new technology also enables the dishwasher to automatically default to longer wash time if it detects especially dirty dishes. 

Additionally, a dishwasher cycle can last longer than usual if there are clogs and/or blockages in the hoses, drains and pumps. Food bits can saturate and block the filters, resulting in reduced Smooth flow of water. This in return reduces the dishwasher to slow runs.

Faulty sensors can also lead to L-O-N-G wash times. Sensors in dishwashers act like communicators between the appliance and the dishes. With time, when the sensor experiences tear and wear it can miscommunicate to the appliance making it run for longer than expected.

Conclusion

Dishwashers come with an array of cycles, each uniquely designed to meet specific cleaning needs. Some cycles are faster than others just like others use less water and energy to clean.

The time that each dishwasher cycle will take to complete a full wash will depend on the model of the appliance, the specific chosen cycle and how heavy and dirty the load is.

In addition, your newer dishwasher will run longer than your old appliance. This does not necessarily mean that your appliance is faulty, it is because it’s designed to run that long to compensate for less water and energy used.

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