How Long Should a Dishwasher Take to Wash?

Is yours keeping up with your dishwashing needs?

Doing the dishes takes time, and that’s why many people opt for a dishwasher. Loading and unloading it takes a lot less time than handwashing the dishes. However, the cycles themselves will take a lot longer than handwashing. So is it worth it? How long will it be? Will it fit into your schedule?

We’ll answer all your burning questions on how long should a dishwasher take to wash. Then, you can decide if it’s right for you.

How Long Should a Dishwasher Take to Wash?

This depends on the cycle you choose, what type of dishwasher you have, and the brand you go for. Portable and countertop dishwashers will generally be quicker than built-in dishwashers. Heavy or intensive cycles will be a bit longer than normal or eco cycles. You can expect the dishwasher cycle to fall somewhere between 1.5 and 4 hours.

Is It Better to Wash Dishes Or Use the Dishwasher?

Running a dishwasher is cheaper, more effective and in our opinion, much easier (1).

While there is the upfront cost of the dishwasher itself — and this can be expensive or pretty budget-friendly — over time, you will save money. However, the dishwasher cycles are long, so if you can get through your daily dishes in 10 minutes, a dishwasher may not be for you.

How Long Should a Dishwasher Take to Wash Dishes?

This depends on the cycle you choose, what type of dishwasher you have, and the brand you go for.

Generally, portable and countertop dishwashers will be quicker than built-in dishwashers. Heavy or intensive cycles will be a bit longer than normal or eco cycles. However, you can expect the dishwasher cycle to fall somewhere between 1.5 and four hours.

Check your manufacturer’s instructions to see how long each cycle should take. If you have a front panel dishwasher, it may also read the time remaining on the LED screen.

Why Does My Dishwasher Take Longer to Wash?

There could be a few reasons.

  • It’s an older dishwasher. New technology can get the job done quicker.
  • Your dishwasher has sensors. The sensor calibration could be malfunctioning, or if your dishwasher is new, it’s probably still figuring itself out. Let it run its cycle.
  • Your dishes are really dirty. If there are sensors, it will automatically programme a longer cycle.
  • You have hard water, which can also interfere with the sensors. You should clean your dishwasher regularly to remove buildup.

If your dishwasher is running extremely long and you are concerned, we recommend getting in touch with the manufacturer for advice.

Which Dishwasher Has the Shortest Wash Cycle?

If you’re looking for a dishwasher with a super quick cycle, you’re in luck. The shortest dishwashers go all the way down to 15 minutes, but you’ll be paying a steep price for these.

  • Miele PG 8061: This dishwasher has a 15-minute cycle depending on power conditions, water intake, and water temperature.
  • Thermador DWHD870WFP: This dishwasher has a 20-minute Star Speed cycle.
  • Asko D5436XLS: This has a 20-minute cycle, recommended for lightly soiled dishes only.
  • Bosch SHXN8U55UC: This dishwasher has an express cycle that takes 30 minutes or less.
  • Electrolux EI24ID50QS: This dishwasher has a 30-minute cycle.

If you’re looking for something that can do quick washes, and you have the budget for it, then we recommend checking out these models.

Does Running the Dishwasher Save Water?

Yes, for sure! Dishwashers take as little as three gallons of water per cycle, whereas washing the dishes can take up to 27 gallons of water (2). So while you may be waiting longer for your clean dishes, you’re saving water, energy and money.

Buying Tip

Look for an Energy Star certified dishwasher. These use less energy and are cheaper to run annually.

How Many Times a Week Should You Run the Dishwasher?

That depends on how many dishes you have! Most people run their dishwasher once a day, in the evenings, so the dishes are clean for the next day.

We recommend running the dishwasher at least every couple of days so dirty plates aren’t sitting for a while. This causes bad smells, and when the food dries, it will be harder for the dishwasher to clean the food off.

Is It Safe to Run the Dishwasher at Night?

There is some debate about this, so check with your manufacturer. Some say not to, as it poses a fire risk (3).

The ideal time to run a dishwasher is just after dinner, in the evenings. The energy prices will be lower and you’ll be done with most meals for the day. Plus, it should be done before you go to bed so you can be there if anything goes wrong.

Can You Stop a Running Dishwasher?

Yes. Either select the pause button or cancel cycle button. If your dishwasher doesn’t have these, or is a top panel dishwasher, open the door if necessary. The cycle will stop, but the dishes may be wet and covered in dishwasher detergent.

Taking Time

Dishwashers do take, on average, a few hours to complete a cycle. However, they do a much better job at washing dishes than we could ever do by hand due to the powerful water jets, the detergent and the high heat!

If you have the time to wait for your dishes to wash and dry, then we definitely recommend a dishwasher.

Headshot of Beth McCallum

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!
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