How much time do you spend doing laundry each week or each day? For me, it’s 30 minutes for the washer and 40 for the dryer. But let’s be honest, in the past, I often found myself scrambling because I had grossly underestimated the time it took to get through a laundry cycle. If you are asking yourself, how long does it take to wash and dry clothes, I have the answers you need. Good time management and a proper plan can leave your laundry room nearly empty. (Yes, it’s possible!)

Normally, How Long Does It Take to Wash and Dry Clothes?

A normal wash cycle should take 30-40 minutes to complete. Drying your clothes should be anywhere from 40-60 minutes. The size of the load, types of fabrics, the cycle you choose, and the age of your equipment all play into the time it takes to wash and dry clothes. 

Some washing machines will give you a time estimate for things like a normal cycle or a delicate wash cycle, but if they don’t, you should have a general idea before you press start. There is nothing worse than waiting on your washing machine to finish!

Washing Times for Every Type of Wash Cycle

I’ll share one of the most common questions I get: Is 15 minutes enough to wash clothes? Fifteen minutes is enough time to wash clothes, but you have to be realistic about how clean these clothes will get. A normal wash must undergo agitation, detergent activation, stain removal, and rinsing. 

With a 15-minute wash cycle, you won’t have much time for these. Lightly soiled clothes, smaller washes, and delicate fabrics are all potential candidates for a 15-minute wash cycle. 

Here are all the washing times for every type of wash cycle: 

Quick Wash Cycle or Speed Cycle

A quick wash or speed cycle will take 15-30 minutes to wash clothes. The quick wash saves time by not letting clothes soak for quite as long. If you are washing clothes frequently, they are not overly soiled, or you left your wet clothes in too long and need to freshen them up, the quick wash is a good method. 

I use this sometimes on smaller loads, but I’ll never put something stained or heavily soiled in a quick wash. 

Standard, Regular, or Normal Wash Cycle

The normal wash cycle takes around an hour, but you can expect it to range from 40 to 90 minutes, depending on the manufacturer of your washing machine. The normal cycle is good for your standard load of laundry, not to wash heavily soiled items. 

In addition, I would stay away from the normal wash cycle if you have a small load that is not all that dirty. If you want to wash clothes faster and save yourself on the electric and water bill, the quick wash is the way to go. 

Permanent Press

With most modern washing machines, a permanent press cycle is more like taking your clothing to the dry cleaner. The permanent press is usually right around 50 minutes and should be used on clothing that can wrinkle easily. 

The permanent press works well on dark-colored clothing to help maintain color long term. The water temperature here is cold. 

Delicates Wash Cycle 

The delicate wash cycle takes around 35 minutes with most standard laundry machines. The delicate cycle is for fabrics like lace and silk. The biggest change you will see here compared to a heavy duty cycle is the time it will take to wash clothes and the speed of the spin cycle. 

Delicate washes are done with lower temperatures and low speeds. 

Heavy Duty Wash Cycle 

Have the kids been playing in a mud pit? Do you work in construction? If you know the type of dirt and staining that can happen; as a result, the heavy duty wash cycle is where your laundry routine will be focused. 

A heavy duty wash cycle is usually around 90 minutes, however I’ve seen it range from 60-120 minutes. Only use this for really dirty laundry and tough stains. I would also stay away from delicate fabrics and go with cotton and polyester only in the heavy duty washes. 

Bedding Wash Cycle 

The bedding wash cycle often gets confused with the heavy duty cycle, but they are two different things. Bedding wash cycles alert the washing machine that the washer will be quite full. Expect this to take about 90 minutes, but in some machines, you will see the wash cycle take up to three hours for bedding. 

Don’t use the bedding wash cycle for smaller loads if you want your clothes washed evenly and correctly. In addition, be aware that the normal washer rinse temperature will be a little higher here so adjust accordingly. 

Rinse and Spin Cycle

Have you ever opened your washing machine only to find that the detergent you used did not dissolve? This is a perfect situation for a rinse cycle followed by a spin cycle. The entire process should only take about 25 minutes to complete. 

If you find yourself having to do this often, make sure you are not putting too much into the washing machine to begin with. Sometimes, tightly packed clothes don’t allow the laundry detergent enough space to dissolve and clean the clothing. 

A rinse and spin cycle can also be used after hand washing your clothing. 

Spin Only 

The spin only cycle is used mostly when your clothes go through the wash cycle and are too wet for the wash. The spin cycle takes about 10 minutes. Completing the spin cycle may make the drying process quite a bit easier. 

Keep in mind here that the spin only cycle is not for washing clothes; it simply removes water. 

Handwash (No Washing Machine) 

Finally, you have the option not to use the washing machine at all and hand wash clothes yourself. When hand washing, you still have to go through the same stages of soaking, agitation, scrubbing, and rinsing in order to get clean clothing. Expect this to take 10-30 minutes, depending on your technique. 

We don’t have the ability to spin clothing the way a washing machine does, so drying clothes can be a bit more time-consuming following a handwash. Use the handwash when even a delicate cycle has you worried you could damage an article of clothing. 

For heavily soiled clothing or things like workout gear, handwashing may not be enough to remove laundry odor.

How long does it take to wash

Drying Times for Every Type of Drying Cycle

The time it takes to let clothes dry will depend greatly on the type of machine you have, whether you are partially air drying, and how large of a load you are doing. Each of these cycles will vary slightly based on the manufacturers, but here is what you can expect for every type of drying cycle. 

Speed/Quick Dry or Manual Dry 

Your dryer may allow you to set the dryer time yourself, allowing you to customize how long it will take the clothes to dry. A speed or quick dry is usually around 20 minutes but can range from 15-30 minutes.

The quick dry is to touch up a load of laundry that didn’t quite dry or for something that is only partially wet. You may use it after treating a stain on an article of clothing and want to dry the area fully. 

Standard/Regular/Normal Dry Cycle

The standard or regular dry cycle should take you 45 minutes to complete. If your laundry takes about an hour or more, you may be putting too much in your dryer at a time. 

Putting clothes in the normal or standard drying cycle is best for non delicates, as this is usually set with moderately hot temperatures. 

Permanent Press Cycle

Synthetic and dress clothing do well on the permanent press cycle. Slightly less heat is used, so you will end up with fewer wrinkles in the clothing. The permanent press cycle will take 45 minutes and, in some machines, up to an hour. 

Delicates Cycle

Delicate cycles don’t take as long because they are built to encourage less damage to clothing than heavy duty cycles. The standard delicate cycle is 20 minutes, but you may find that some are 30 minutes. 

Delicates should be washed in smaller loads to make it easier for you to keep drying times shorter. Longer drying times and wash times with delicates can lead to the deterioration of fabrics. 

Heavy Duty Dry Cycle

How do those jeans always seem to take so long to dry? The heavy duty wash cycle is for your towels, jeans, and wet items. This one takes about 90 minutes and will keep your dryer busy on laundry day. 

Don’t use the heavy duty dry cycle unless you need it; it uses a lot of extra electricity. 

Bedding Dry Cycle

The bedding dry cycle will help with items like comforters and blankets. You can plan for up to 2 hours of drying time for the bedding cycle. With thinner blankets, you may save time, which may only take one hour. 

Air Dry

Air dry will not use low heat; it simply circulates air throughout the dryer. If you use this on your regular clean clothes, it could take hours for it to work. Air dry is for delicate items like a jacket with rubber parts that could get ruined in the typical dry cycle. Air dry normally takes about 40 minutes to an hour, depending on how wet the items are. 

Line Dry

I don’t put my sneakers, or the kids stuffed animals in the dryer. Not only do I worry about damage to my items, but also to the dryer itself. Air drying takes about an hour but up to 3 hours, depending on the spin cycle effectiveness of the washing machine. 

When air drying, don’t place things in direct sunlight, as it can impact the fabric’s coloring and texture. 

How long does it take to dry

Tips for Reducing Washing Time

So, how long does a small load of laundry take? A small load of laundry should only take 30 minutes. To reduce washing time, use the right amount of detergent and avoid overloading the washing machine. 

In addition, I follow these steps to make sure my washing machine is not overworked: 

Tips for Reducing Drying Time

Drying time can be reduced greatly if you follow a few specific tips. In addition, I have found that doing smaller load sizes and doing laundry more often saves me time. Having to hit repeat on the dry cycle is just not worth the time or effort. 

  • Clean your lint filter regularly and have a professional come in to clean the dryer ducts 
  • Higher spin speed settings can lead to faster drying 
  • A dry towel mixed in with wet laundry can help speed things up and decrease total drying times 
  • Spin only cycles after completing a wash will reduce the total amount of drying time 

Is 30 Minutes Enough To Dry Clothes?

Thirty minutes is enough to dry some polyester or nylon fabrics, but cotton may struggle to dry within a 30 minute time period. If you are drying a larger load of laundry, expect the total drying time to be considerably longer in the 45-50 minute range. If you are in a hurry and need clothing quickly, put a dry towel in with a small load, and it may be done in 30 minutes. 

Factors That Can Affect Washing and Drying Times

As you may have noticed, I gave you an estimated range for washing and drying times because these times can change from one machine to the next. Here are some things to keep in mind. 

  • Front load washers have longer wash cycles but are more energy efficient; the top load washers have short wash cycles but use a lot of water
  • Agitators (typically found in older top load models) increase the length of the wash; the newer impellers use a more efficient washing action 
  • The wash or dry cycle you select has a big impact on the washing and drying times; don’t choose something longer than it needs to be 
  • Drying items at high heat can speed up drying times; again check for delicate fabrics to make sure they are not going to get damaged or shrink 
  • Don’t overload the washing machine or the dryer; you will increase drying times significantly 
  • Higher humidity rates can slow down drying times; don’t overload your dryer so that clothing can spin well
  • Take good care of your washer and drying; they will operate and perform more efficiently

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I Mix Different Fabrics in One Wash Cycle?

It is safe to mix several different types of fabric in one wash. However, if you are going to mix fabrics, make sure they can both handle the temperature and washer settings you are choosing. 

Fabrics like wool and silk have specific requirements that cotton and polyester do not have. 

How Can I Reduce Wrinkles in My Clothes After Drying?

To reduce wrinkles in your clothes after drying, take the clothes out of the washing machine as soon as the dryer cycle is completed. The quicker you remove them, the easier it is to remove wrinkles. 

Is It Okay To Leave Clothes in the Dryer Overnight?

There are two problems with leaving clothes in the dryer overnight: the first is that they will wrinkle, the second is that they may not be completely dry, then you may end up having to wash them again. 

What’s the Most Energy-Efficient Way To Dry Clothes?

The most energy-efficient way to dry clothes is to do smaller loads, add a dry towel to the load and set the dryer for a quick setting, or manually set it to 30 minutes. 

How Should I Sort Clothes To Ensure the Best Wash?

Sort your laundry by color, the type of fabric, and how dirty it is. Try to wash all of the heavily soiled clothing together and use a heavy-duty wash cycle; then, you can do light washes or delicates for the rest of the laundry loads. 

What Are the Benefits of Pre-Treating Stains?

The benefits of pre-treating stains include shorter wash times and less frequent washes. If you try to get away with no pre-treatment, you may have to wash your clothing several times before it’s even ready for the dryer.


Britt Olizarowicz