How Long Does a Washing Machine Take to Wash Clothes?

How Long Does a Washing Machine Take to Wash Clothes?

If you’ve just had a new washing machine installed or have moved into a new home with the one you aren’t familiar with, you may find yourself wondering why your cycles just seem to be taking so long.

Whilst it can be frustrating, it is now commonplace that washing machines have cycles that will take a couple of hours each. However, the length of the cycle will depend on your exact machine, and which cycle you are using.

Let’s look at the most common washing programmes and how long they take on average.


Summary of Cycle Times

Here’s a quick summary of average cycle times:

  • Cottons: 3.5 hours
  • Synthetics: 2 hours
  • Wool/Delicate/Handwash: 40-80 minutes
  • Sport: 2 hours
  • Easy care: 2.5 hours
  • Quick wash: 14-30 minutes
  • Drum clean: 3.5 hours



Cotton washing machine cycles are designed for clothing that needs a high agitation wash, such as bed sheets or towels. This comes hand-in-hand with a high-speed spin and often higher water temperatures of 40 or 60 degrees Celsius.

The average cotton cycle takes around three and a half hours if you’re washing a full load.



Synthetic Washing

Many modern synthetic cycles typically run at 40 degrees Celsius and tend to use low spin speeds. These cycles usually take around two hours, though they can be as quick as an hour or as long as three hours.


Wool, Delicate & Handwash

Wool Washing

By their nature, delicate cycles are very gentle. They usually use low temperatures and gentle spin speeds to carefully wash the garments. As a result, these are relatively short cycles, sitting on average between 40 and 80 minutes.



Sportswear programmes are ideal for synthetic clothing that is sweaty but not necessarily for clothing that is heavily soiled.

These cycles run at low temperatures to protect the fibres from damage, and the long run time is great at removing sweat stains and odours from clothing. On average, these cycles take around two hours.


Easy Care

This cycle usually uses a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius and takes around two to two and a half hours.


Quick Wash

Quick Wash Mode

All quick wash cycles are designed to work with around 40% of the washing machine’s capacity. These cycles cut the wash time down drastically and offer a quick solution to emergency washing of very lightly soiled items.

The exact length of a quick wash cycle will depend on the manufacturer of your washing machine. Some machines offer quick wash cycles that take around half an hour, whereas others are as short as 14 minutes.


Drum Clean

A drum clean cycle is designed to be run empty, without any clothes in the drum. It will usually take between two hours 30 minutes and three hours.


Why Do Washing Cycles Take So Long?

Today, it is common that many washing machines have general cycles that take more than two hours, if not closer to three for some models.

This change has been because of manufacturer’s need to create appliances that are ever more efficient and meet new efficiency legislation.

By increasing the length of a washing machine cycle, you can decrease the amount of water and energy that the cycle is using, making it more efficient.

If you decrease the time a cycle takes, many machines will need to greatly increase the amount of water and energy that they use to achieve the same cleaning results.

This longer cycle time, therefore, does save you money in both water and electricity costs, however, it does mean that many normal washing machine cycles will take around two hours.