How Long Does It Take to Wash and Dry Clothes?

Doing laundry is tiring because of the time needed to sort, wash, dry, and fold clothes. The chore can seem endless, which is correct for some scenarios.

But, if you know the average time a laundry process lasts, it can help you get over the slump, and you will be well on your way to enjoying your clean clothes and sheets.

How Long Does Washing Take?

The preliminary stage is when you sort your clothes and bring the laundry additives like detergents and fabric softeners. It can take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how organized you are.

However, the time for the actual washing stage depends on the selected wash setting, wash medium, and the amount of laundry load.

A washer has several settings catering to different wash needs. These settings have different spin speeds, water temperatures, and wash times.

The Normal Wash Cycle

The “normal” wash cycle is the standard for washing clothes, especially cotton and all kinds of durable fabrics. It requires high spin speeds and any water temperature.

The average time to complete a “normal” wash cycle is 50 minutes to an hour.

The Delicate Wash Cycle

The “delicate” wash cycle is for light fabrics like silk, wool, lingerie, and any clothing that the care label specifies as gentle. It uses low spin speeds to reduce strain on the clothes, preserving the integrity of the fabric.

The average time to complete a “delicate” wash cycle is 45 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

The Heavy Duty Wash Cycle

The “heavy-duty” wash cycle is suitable for sturdy or heavily-soiled clothes. It is like the “normal” cycle with its high spin speeds but longer because it has a long soaking session.

The average time to complete a “heavy-duty” wash cycle is almost two hours.

The Quick Wash Cycle

The “quick” wash cycle is not for regular wash sessions. When you want to wash one or two items for immediate use, you set the washer to the “quick” wash cycle. This wash cycle employs a speedy method of completing the wash period to produce clean clothes in less than 30 minutes.

The average time to complete a “quick” wash cycle is 15 to 40 minutes.

The Sanitize Wash Cycle

The Sanitize wash cycle is another specialized wash setting employed when you want to disinfect clothes. It utilizes specific disinfecting agents, high heat, long wash periods, and fast spin times to kill bacteria while washing the clothes.

The average time to complete a “sanitize” wash cycle is 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 50 minutes.

How Long Does Hand Washing Last?

Although similar in preparation and detergent use, hand washing is a different system from machine washing, and it shows in its mechanism of operation and washing times.

The first step in hand washing is preparation, which takes 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your level of organization.

The next step is soaking. A basic pre-wash soaking can last up to 30 minutes, while deep cleaning can last hours and even overnight.

The main washing and rinsing will last a minimum of 15 minutes for smaller laundry loads and up to one hour and 30 minutes for larger loads.

What Factors Affect Wash Times?

You cannot accurately predict how long washing clothes will last, but over time and subsequent washing, you will be able to develop a seamless routine.

Some of the factors that affect wash times are:

  • Prep Time

Before washing your clothes, you should gather them, read the care label for washing instructions, sort and separate the clothes by color, fabric type, and soil level, and get the laundry detergent and other additives.

This preparation should take 30 minutes in an organized home and laundry system, but it will take longer if the clothes and materials are in different locations.

  • Load Size and Washer Capacity

Each washer has a capacity level; it is the maximum weight of clothing it can carry for an efficient wash cycle. Exceeding the washer’s capacity can cause mechanical failure and badly-washed clothes.

If your laundry load is heavier than the washer’s capacity, you will have to divide them into batches. Washing them one by one will increase your overall laundry time.

  • High-Efficiency Washers

The invention of washing machines revolutionized laundry practices, saving people time and energy. However, it consumes a lot of water and energy, harming the environment.

This predicament led to the invention of high-efficiency washing machines that utilize less water and electricity. While this kind of washer is better for the environment, it takes longer to finish washing the clothes.

  • Brand Types

Washers are not one size fits all products. Each company offers different unique features and wash times.

Sometimes, how long your washing lasts depends on the brand of washing machine you have.

  • Wash Process

As seen above, machine washing and hand washing take different wash times. Another washing process is utilizing the laundromat.

The journey to the laundromat, the number of people there, and the washer available contribute to the time the washing period will last.

 How Long Does Drying Your Clothes Take?

The drying time for clothes depends on the drying medium, type of clothes, load size, and drying cycles.

Laundry Type and Size

Sturdier clothing like comforters and towels will take longer to dry than t-shirts. This drying inconsistency is why you separate the clothes by type before washing, so you can have even drying and avoid over-drying clothing because others aren’t dry.

Small t-shirts can take 30 to 40 minutes to dry, while a comforter can last up to two hours in the dryer.

Like the washing period, larger laundry loads will take longer to dry because you separate them into batches and dry them.


A spin cycle will remove water from the clothes till they are damp. This reduced water content will shorten the drying time.

The reverse is the case for hand washing because no amount of manual wringing will be strong enough to rival a machine’s spin cycle.

Regardless, it will take a minimum of two hours under direct sunlight for non-sturdy clothes to dry.

When you don’t have these drying conditions, air-drying can last for hours or even days.

Tumble Drying

Tumble drying utilizes constant spinning and direct heat to make drying time shorter than air-drying.

There are different heat settings, ranging from the air-fluff settings – which use no heat – to the highest heat settings the dryer allows.

The higher the heat setting, the shorter the drying time will be. Some drying times can last for 30 to 45 minutes – for shirts and dresses – while others might last for up to three hours – for sturdy clothes.

However, the high heat is dangerous for some fabric types, so check the care label to confirm.

How to Reduce Drying Time?

  • Reduce the Load

When you put plenty of clothes in the dryer at once, they can stack on top of each and prevent air circulation, leaving your clothes with wet spots when the drying time ends.

  • Use Drying Aids

Dryer balls will fluff the clothes in the dryer, allowing air to circulate to hidden and clumped areas. Wool dryer balls can also absorb some of the moisture in the dryer. For lighter loads like shirts, place a drying towel to absorb moisture in the dryer and shorten the drying time.

  • Clean the Lint Tray and Vent

When you don’t clean the vent and lint tray, the lint from your clothes will remain in the dryer, slowing its efficiency.

  • Use Direct Sunlight

It is better to air-dry your clothes outside under direct sunlight because the sun will dry them faster. However, the heat from the sun can affect some fabrics, so check the care label before proceeding.

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