Dishwasher cycle lengths can vary widely. Depending on the age and make of your machine, and the types of cycles it offers, you may have clean dishes in as little as an hour.1 On the other hand, newer, more energy-efficient machines may have dishwasher cycles that take up to three hours.
How many cycles does a dishwasher have?
Generally, a standard dishwasher will have at least three cycles:
• A light cycle, often used for delicate glassware and plates
• A normal cycle, for everyday plates and cutlery
• A heavy cycle, for items that need a more intense clean
Light, normal and heavy cycles will use different temperatures as well as other variables, so their length will vary. Check your owner's manual for cycle times. If you don't have one (for example if you bought the dishwasher with the house and the previous owner didn't leave it), try looking up your dishwasher model online. Many owner's manuals are available as free PDFs.
Many modern dishwashers have more than three cycle options. These can include:
1. Eco-wash offers slow, energy-saving cycles
2. Quick wash is for dishes that have already been rinsed
3. Rinse/hold allows you to rinse dishes and leave them in the dishwasher as you wait for a larger load
4. Auto clean senses how dirty your items are and adjusts the settings automatically
5. Delay wash sets the dishwasher run at a specific time in the future (helpful for waiting for cheaper evening energy rates, or having the machine running when you’re out of the house)
6. Half load helps when you simply have to run a smaller load
7. Delicate cycle washes your delicate kitchen items
How long is a regular dishwasher cycle?
A regular dishwasher cycle generally lasts about two hours or more, but this depends on the age and model of your dishwasher.
The standard dishwasher cycle on modern machines tends to be longer than the typical cycle on older machines. This is because modern machines are designed to be energy efficient. It might seem counter-intuitive, but longer cycles tend to save energy and use water more efficiently.
Can I open my dishwasher mid-cycle?
You can open your dishwasher mid-cycle. It may disrupt the cycle on certain models (for example, if your dishwasher has a drying cycle), or you may have to press the start button again, but it shouldn’t cause a flood in your kitchen or damage your machine.
Many people worry they'll flood the kitchen if they open the dishwasher mid-cycle due to the common misunderstanding that your dishwasher fills up with water as it washes. Thankfully, this is not how your dishwasher works. So while opening the door mid-cycle might result in a little splashing (or a lot of steam being released), you certainly won't be left with a big puddle!
When is the best time to run the dishwasher?
Dishwashers are an amazing modern convenience. They give us back the time and effort we would have spent scrubbing and leave us with shiny cutlery and sparkling plates, all at the touch of a button. But when is the best time to run the dishwasher?
The best time to run the dishwasher is late at night. There are many benefits to running the dishwasher at night, including energy savings and noise reduction. Some people worry that running the dishwasher at night will keep the household awake with its noise. However, that constant hum and gurgle of water is usually more of a distraction during the day when you’re doing things (and can cause you to waste more energy by turning the TV up). At night, the whir of the dishwasher is just a small disruption, but of course sensitivity to that whir will vary from household to household.
Wondering about the benefits of dishwashing vs handwashing? Learning how your appliance works, especially how much each cycle costs you, can help you to decide which is best for you and your home.