Skip to Content

How Long Does It Take to Wash and Dry Clothes

Washing and drying clothes can take a long time, especially if you’re in a hurry. But washing and drying clothes may not always take as long as you think. There are also instances when washing and drying clothes may take longer or shorter than it usually takes. So how long does it take to wash and dry clothes?

Generally, it takes around an hour and a half to two hours to wash and dry a load of clothes. But, the exact time depends on the size of the load, the cycle you use, and even your washer and dryer. At the absolute most, it can take up to 4 hours to wash and dry clothes.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how long it takes to wash and dry clothes. I’ll also explain the factors that can affect the time it takes. You’ll learn about the different wash cycles and how long each can take on average. Finally, I’ll explain how long it takes to dry clothes and what factors can speed up or so down the drying time.

How Long Does It Take to Wash Clothes?

How Long Does It Take to Wash Clothes
In many cases, washing clothes takes the shortest time than drying them. Other times, the washing can take longer than the drying. But on average, it takes around 50 minutes to an hour to wash a normal load of clothes with most modern washing machines.

However, some factors can affect the length of time it takes to wash a load of clothes. The factors that can affect the length of time it takes are the load size, the type of cycle you choose, how much detergent you use, and even the age and type of your washing machine. Let’s look at each one of these factors in more detail.

Factors That Can Affect Washing Time

Load Size

The first factor that can affect the time it takes to wash a load of clothes is the size of the load itself or what that load consists of. For example, if you’re only washing a few shirts or a “small” load, it likely won’t take as long as if you were to wash all the clothes you wore over a week.

Modern washing machines are equipped with sensors that can detect the size of the load. The washing machine knows that a small load isn’t going to take as long to get clean, and the load may finish a few minutes sooner than a larger load.

That being said, whether the load is large or small, you’ll still likely wash it on the normal cycle except in a few circumstances that I’ll discuss later. You’ll just set the load size on the washing machine. Regardless of the load size, you can still expect the time it takes to wash the load to be between 45 minutes to an hour.

If you’re washing heavier or bulkier items such as blankets, sheets, towels, or comforters on a normal wash cycle, note that it may cause the normal cycle to take longer than it usually does. Since these items take up more space in the machine, it takes longer to soak them and rinse all the detergent, increasing the washing time.

Amount of Detergent You Use

The amount or type of detergent you use can also affect the time it takes to wash clothes. This is because some detergents produce more suds than others. Even if your detergent produces a normal amount of suds, using too much of it will create more suds than normal.

If more suds are produced, the washing machine may go through a longer rinse cycle to remove all the suds from the clothes. Using the correct amount of detergent for the load size can ensure that your clothes finish washing in a reasonable amount of time.

Type of Washing Machine

The type of washing machine you have (i.e., top-loader vs. front-loader) can affect how fast your clothes get washed, especially if you consider the age of the machine. In general, front-load washers take longer to wash clothes because the drum isn’t as large and because the configuration of it means that the clothes won’t all be submerged in water at the same time.

Since top-load washers have a larger and deeper drum, all of the clothes can stay submerged in water the whole time up until the water drains. This allows them to be soaked and rinsed out faster, speeding up drying time.

The age of your washing machine can also play a role, regardless of whether the machine is a top-loader or front-loader. Many modern washing machines have timed wash and “speed wash” cycles that determine how quickly the clothes are washed. They may also have timers that tell you how much longer is left in the wash.

Your washing machine likely has different types of cycles as well. The cycle you choose can affect how long the clothes take to wash. For example, delicate cycles may not take as long as a normal cycle, but a heavy-duty cycle may take longer. Let’s look at how long each cycle takes on average.

How Long Is a Speed Wash Cycle?

How Long Is a Speed Wash Cycle

Many modern washing machines have what is known as a “speed wash” cycle or a “quick wash” cycle. These cycles are designed to wash clothes faster than a normal cycle, which can be a great option if you need your clothes washed in a hurry. On average, a speed wash cycle can take 30-45 minutes to wash a load of clothes.

However, the time it takes for a speed wash cycle to completely wash your clothes depends mostly on the load size. Smaller loads may be washed in less than 30-45 minutes.

But larger or bulky loads may take just as long or even longer to wash on a speed wash cycle as on a normal cycle. If you’re using a speed wash cycle, it’s better to keep the size of the load on the smaller side so that the clothes finish washing faster.

How Long Is a Delicate Wash Cycle?

Most washing machines have a delicate wash or gentle wash setting designed to wash smaller or more delicate clothing items. You may think this cycle doesn’t take as long to wash your clothes as a normal cycle, but that isn’t always the case.

Delicate cycles usually take around the same time as a normal cycle to wash a load of clothes. On average, delicate cycles usually take around 45 minutes to an hour. So if you’re thinking of washing your clothes on a delicate cycle to speed up the washing time, it may not work out.

The main difference between a normal and a delicate wash cycle is that less agitation is used during the rinse and spin cycles. Delicate or small garments can get damaged more easily by the agitation in a normal wash cycle. If you try to wash non-delicate or bulky items on a delicate cycle, you may find that they won’t get as clean, but they likely won’t get washed any faster.

How Long Is a Heavy Duty Wash Cycle?

In most cases, you can expect your clothes to get washed in 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your washing machine cycle. However, the exception to this is if you use the heavy-duty wash cycle. Heavy-duty wash cycles usually take longer than normal wash cycles.

This cycle can take up to 1 ½ to 2 hours to wash a load of clothes.

The purpose of the heavy-duty cycle is just as it sounds. It’s designed for washing large, bulky items such as comforters, blankets, etc. You can also use a heavy-duty cycle to wash heavily soiled items, especially if you work in certain professions where your clothes get very dirty.

In either case, large, bulky or heavily soiled items take longer to clean. Either more detergent or heavy-duty laundry detergent is used, both of which can take longer to rinse out. Some heavy-duty cycles may even have an extra rinse and spin cycle, which further prolongs the process. However, in most cases, you wouldn’t use a heavy-duty cycle for clothing that you need to be washed quicker.

How Long Is a Rinse and Spin Cycle?

How Long Is a Rinse and Spin Cycle

When it comes to washing clothes, the rinse and spin cycle makes at least half of the time that it takes to wash clothes. The rinse and spin cycle can take up to 30 minutes for each rinse and spin that the washing machine does. But again, this depends on the type of machine you have and the cycle you use.

The rinse cycle can take a bit longer than the spin cycle. During the rinse cycle, all of the dirty and soapy water is drained from the machine. The machine then refills clean water to rinse the clothes, and the water is drained afterward. This whole process can take as much as 15 to 20 minutes.

The spin cycle works to remove excess water from your clothes by spinning or agitating them. This cycle can take anywhere from 10-12 minutes on average, but some machines may take as little as five minutes or as much as 15 minutes. It’s also worth noting that some machines have a faster spin speed than others, which doesn’t necessarily affect the speed of the whole spin cycle but can affect how much water gets spun out of the clothes.

Many washing machines also allow you to run multiple rinse and spin cycles. Or, you may wish to do so if you have a bulky or heavily soiled load. Each rinse and spin cycle extends the time it takes to wash the whole load. This could cause the load to take up to an hour longer, depending on how long each rinse and spin cycle is.

Is a 15-Minute Wash Enough?

Some washing machines have a cycle called the “15-minute quick wash” or something similar that allows your clothes to be washed in as little as 15 minutes. Other washers may have a timer that lets you control how long the entire washing machine cycle takes.

While a 15-minute wash can be a great time saver if you’re in a hurry, you may wonder if 15 minutes is enough time to clean your clothes. The best answer is that it depends on how many clothes you need to wash and how dirty they are.

Fifteen minutes is not going to be long enough to get really dirty items clean. It’s also not going to be enough to get bulky items clean. You also don’t want to put a full load into the washing machine and try to wash it in 15 minutes.

But, if you have a few small items that need to be washed, then 15 minutes should be enough to clean them. This is especially true if the items aren’t that dirty. You can also use a 15-minute wash if you just want to freshen some items. Remember that this cycle is designed mostly for convenience. While you can wash a full load or large items in 15 minutes, don’t expect them to get as clean as they could be if you used a normal cycle.

How Long Does It Take to Wash Clothes by Hand?

How Long to Wash Clothes by Hand

The washing machine is perhaps one of the greatest inventions, allowing us to do laundry quicker and more efficiently than washing items by hand. But, some garments are still better off being hand-washed, and not everyone has the space for a washing machine.

That being said, there’s no set answer for how long it takes to wash clothes by hand. Washing clothes by hand may be quicker than using a washing machine or may take longer. It again depends on what and how much you’re trying to wash.

You can wash individual items or several items at one time. But, in either case, it’s a good idea to let the items soak for at least 20-30 minutes in the soapy water. Then, if you’re only washing one item, you can rinse and squeeze the item out in as little as 10 minutes. In that case, even if you have a washing machine, it may be faster to just wash the item by hand.

But if you’re washing several or bulky items, it can take longer to rinse them out thoroughly and squeeze out excess water. This can take as much as 30 minutes or more, so it may be faster to wash the item(s) in a machine if you have one.

Wash Cycle Times for Top Load Washers

In addition to the wash cycle times for speed wash, delicate wash, normal wash, and heavy-duty wash cycles mentioned above, there are many other types of cycles that your washing machine may have. The cycles that your machine has just depend on the model and type of machine that you have.

But, it can be helpful to know how long each cycle is so that you’ll know when and when not to use it if you’re in a hurry. Here’s a helpful chart that covers some of the cycle options your washing machine has and how long each one is.

Cycle Time Average Cycle Time
Normal Wash 50 minutes to 1 hour
Speed Wash 15 to 45 minutes
Delicate Wash 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes
Heavy-Duty Wash 1 to 2+ hours
Sanitize Cycle 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours
Cold Water Wash 50 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes
Wrinkle Control 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes
Colors Cycle 50 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes
Whites Cycle 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours 45 minutes
Bulky Items 50 minutes to 2 hours
Towels 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours
Drain and Spin Cycle 15 to 30 minutes

How Long Does It Take to Dry Clothes?

How Long Does It Take to Dry Clothes

Once the clothes are washed, of course, you have to dry them. You can air dry clothes, which can take several hours, but the fastest way to dry them is to use a dryer. In some cases, drying clothes can be faster than washing them, but other times it can take longer.

On average, drying clothes on a normal dryer cycle can take 45 minutes to an hour. But just like some factors can affect washing time, some factors can also affect drying time. The biggest factor affecting how long clothes take to dry is the dryer cycle you use.

Factors That Affect Drying Time

Amount of Heat

Many dryers have a low heat, normal, and high heat dryer cycle. High heat dryer cycles can dry your clothes faster since they use more heat. Your clothes may get dry in 30 to 45 minutes.

But, a high heat cycle can also damage some clothes. Even a normal cycle can use too much heat for some clothes. Low or no heat cycles are the safest way to dry clothes that can be damaged easily, but these cycles can take 2 hours or more to dry clothes completely.

Most dryers have a timed dry option so that you can better control how dry your clothes get and how long it takes. But keep in mind that shorter dryer times may often lead to more heat being used, which can damage clothes. But, a timer can also be useful if you need to take clothing out of the dryer and hang it up before it finishes drying completely.

Load Size

The size of the load can also affect how quickly clothes dry. Larger loads or bulkier items will take longer to dry. This is because they take up more space and heat isn’t distributed as evenly, especially if the clothes get bunched up in the dryer.

Sometimes, larger items such as comforters can take as much as two hours or more to dry. You may even have to run the dryer several times. Smaller loads or fewer items can try much faster, in as little as 45 minutes to an hour, using a normal dryer cycle.

Improper Dryer Maintenance

The final factor affecting drying time is how well you maintain your dryer. Dryers have a lint trap that catches lint, hair, and other debris and keeps it out of the main exhaust pipe for your dryer. If the main exhaust for your dryer gets clogged, your clothing won’t get dry as quickly.

But you also have to remove the lint and hair from the trap after each load or at least after every few loads. If you don’t, the trap can get full and slow the dryer’s drying time. Vacating out the lint trap regularly and cleaning your dryer vent regularly is also important. If you don’t, not only could the time it takes to dry your clothes be slower, but excess lint can also cause a fire to ignite.


Hopefully, this article thoroughly answered your question about how long it takes to wash and dry clothes. On average, it can take an hour to 2 hours or more to completely wash and dry a load of clothes. But, several factors affect this time frame, including what cycles you use and how many clothes you’re washing at drying at one time. If you found this article helpful, share it with others and leave a comment. Thanks for reading!