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How Long Does a Dishwasher Run?

How Long Does a Dishwasher Run?

Many people with dishwashers in their homes wonder how long it takes for the average dishwasher to finish washing and drying the dishes. This is a common question because many homeowners are unsure if their own dishwashers are running too long or too short of a time. 

If you are asking yourself ‘How long does a dishwasher run?’ you’re certainly not alone. The answer to that question isn’t exactly straightforward. Dishwasher cycle times vary quite a bit, depending on what settings are selected. 

Here’s what we can tell you about dishwasher cycle times: They’re not a priority for the ENERGY STAR program or the US Dept. of Energy. Due to this lack of prioritization, cycle times have been gradually increasing as dishwasher makers work to cut back on energy and water use. 

What the Experts Say About Dishwasher Run Times

In the most recent Consumer Reports’ dishwasher tests, some cycle times have exceeded three hours. Yes, you read that right, three hours isn’t all that unusual. You may be even more surprised to learn that the agency also found that cycle times can exceed three hours as well. In its tests, Consumer Reports loaded dishwashers with full loads of very dirty dishes including some with baked-on food, along with drinking glasses and silverware. It then timed the results for a ‘Normal’ cycle.

The agency tested some of the most popular models like the Bosch SHX88PZ55N and the Frigidaire FFBD1821MW. It found that a three hour run time for a ‘Normal’ setting was just about average.

Why Do Many Dishwashers Run So Long? 

 Run times are often long due to having so many extra options available. For example, if you choose a high-temperature setting on your machine, your dishwasher is going to take longer to run with this extra option chosen. Why? Because it will take more time for your machine to heat the water at the high temp you chose. 

If your dishwasher seems to be running for a long time and it’s annoying you, it’s time to think about the settings you’re using. Check your user manual to see all the different functions your model offers. Then decide which ones are ’must-haves’ and which you can live without.

Keep in mind the fact that extra settings often equate to longer run times. Choose your settings carefully the next time you load your dishwasher with dirty dishes. Then time your machine to see how long it takes for it to finish.

If you’re still unhappy with how long your dishwasher takes, trim down the number of settings you’re choosing, then repeat the whole process again. Continue doing this until you find your ‘sweet spot’.

Tips to Help Make Your Dishwasher More Efficient

Because we love to help you save time and money, we’ve put together a few helpful tips. Follow this advice to make your dishwasher run more efficiently. If you do what we suggest, you’ll be pleased with how much money you’ll save on energy costs. 

Strive for Full Loads 

Before you turn your dishwasher on, be sure that it’s loaded fully. A fully loaded machine will make the most of the electricity, water, and detergent it uses. If you’re used to running small loads or even half-loads, you’ll be surprised by how your electricity and water bills shrink when you fully load your machine. You’ll end up saving money on dishwasher detergent too because you’ll be using it less often. 

Rinse Your Dishes Before Loading them Into Your Dishwasher 

When you load very dirty dishes into your dishwasher, you’re probably choosing the pre-rinse cycle. This cycle adds time to how long your machine runs, plus it eats more electricity and water. 

When you’re getting ready to load your dishwasher after a meal, take the time to manually rinse the worst food off the dishes. This way, you can skip the pre-rinse cycle altogether to save time and money.

Don’t Always Choose High Heat 

If you’re in the habit of always choosing the hottest water setting on your machine, choose a lower heat level instead. Your dishwasher is more powerful than you may think. It usually doesn’t need the hottest water to thoroughly clean your dirty dishes. 

Skip the Optional Drying Cycle 

It takes a lot of energy for your dishwasher to crank out enough heat to dry your newly-washed dishes. If you’re serious about saving money, skip the drying cycle and crack the door open a bit after your machine is done washing and rinsing. This will allow enough air inside to dry your wet dishes. 


Modern dishwashers can take anywhere from one hour to three hours or more to complete a full cycle. If you’d like to shorten your machine’s run time, tinker with the settings. When you put some thought into choosing your machine’s settings, your dishwasher should operate very efficiently and not take forever to finish a complete cycle.

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