How long is a dishwasher cycle?

Dishwasher cycle lengths can vary massively depending on the age and make of your machine, and the type of cycle function you opt for. Some express cycles may take as little as an hour[1], whereas newer, more energy efficient machines may have dishwasher cycles of up-to three hours.    

How many cycles does a dishwasher have?

Most 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

Each of these cycles will vary in their length and temperature and should be selected according to cleaning need.

A lot of modern dishwashers, however, have many more cycle options. These can include:

  1. Eco-wash: for slow, energy-saving cycles
  2. Quick wash: for dishes which have already been rinsed
  3. Rinse/hold: to allow you to rinse dishes and leave them in the dishwasher as you wait for a larger load
  4. Auto clean: which senses how dirty your items are and adjusts the settings automatically
  5. Delay wash: which sets the dishwasher ready to wash at a specific time in the future (helpful for waiting for cheaper evening energy tariffs, or having the machine running when you’re out of the house)
  6. Half load: for smaller wash requirements
  7. Delicate cycle: to wash your delicate kitchen pieces

Ultimately, the number of cycles your dishwasher features will depend on its age and model.

How long is a regular dishwasher cycle?

It’s normal for a regular dishwasher cycle to last for two-hours or more, but the age and model of your dishwasher matters.

The standard dishwasher cycle on modern machines tends to be longer than the typical cycle on older machines. This is because modern machines have been designed with energy efficiency in mind. While it might seem counter-intuitive, longer cycles will 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.

For many people, this worry is based on the common misunderstanding that your dishwasher fills up with water as it washes. This is, thankfully, 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 won’t be faced with a tidal wave of water!