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How Long Does It Take To Do Laundry? + What settings to use

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Let’s face it: washing clothes isn’t the sexiest chore in the world. The faster you can get it over with, the better. Still, you don’t want to cut corners with your laundry, so you want to know how long it should take.

Laundry takes about 30 minutes to over an hour, assuming you use a normal wash cycle. The actual time varies depending on factors like the wash cycle you use, the amount of laundry, how dirty the laundry is, and the washer’s condition. You also need to account for pre-wash and drying times.

Below, I’ll address the most common questions on how long it takes to do laundry, including:

  • Quick wash
  • Eco wash
  • Hand wash
  • Why washing machines have long wash cycles.
  • How long it takes to dry laundry.
  • How many hours a week you should spend on laundry.
  • The best time to do laundry and why. 

Let’s get started.

How Long Does a Quick Wash Take?

Before discussing the number of minutes or hours your laundry should take, I want to clarify a few terms first. So let’s start with “quick wash.”

A quick wash takes about 15 minutes to an hour. It uses less power since it requires a lower temperature to complete, which is about 86-104°F (30-40°C). A quick wash cycle can save you money and prolong the life of your clothes and washer if you use it correctly. 

A quick wash can save you time and energy when you’re pressed for time. In addition, you can use this cycle when your clothes are just a little dirty.

Is a 15 Minute Wash Long Enough?

If you can do your laundry in 15 minutes or less, you would. And you might need to if you need something immediately. But is that enough time to clean your clothes thoroughly? 

A 15-minute wash is long enough for light loads. For example, if you’re washing only a handful of shirts, 15 minutes will suffice. You can also use a 15-minute wash for underwear, delicate items, and lightly soiled garments. Otherwise, most loads require longer wash cycles.

But what if 15 minutes isn’t long enough, but you need your clothes very soon? You can use a longer wash cycle, and fortunately, most washers have multiple time settings. 

Check out my guide on how to dry clothes really fast here.

Is a 30 Minute Wash Long Enough?

Laundry can take half an hour to do on average, but that doesn’t mean you should use the 30-minute wash cycle every time. If you have filthy or greasy laundry, you’ll need longer. But what situations is a 30-minute wash long enough?

A 30-minute wash is long enough for light to moderate loads. You can use this wash for undergarments, clothes that require special care, and clothes that have minor stains. The temperature a 30-minute wash uses may not suffice to kill germs in your laundry, though. 

In other words, a quick wash is long enough for certain kinds of laundry. But is it an effective wash cycle to use overall? 

It can be if you use products designed to kill germs, such as the Lysol Laundry Sanitizer from It doesn’t contain bleach, which makes it safe for all your clothing, and it kills up to 99.9% of the bacteria that laundry detergent leaves behind.

When using this product with your laundry detergent, a 30-minute wash should be long enough to kill most germs.

Is a Quick Wash Effective?

Whether a quick wash is effective or not depends on what you want your washer to achieve. Are you aiming for a thorough wash or better energy savings?

A quick wash is effective and saves power since it usually operates at lower temperatures than most wash cycles. It can also thoroughly wash light loads, underwear, and delicate garments. However, a quick wash won’t work as well for regular loads, heavily soiled clothes, and germ control. 

What Is Eco Wash in a Washing Machine?

If you’ve ever come across the term “eco wash,” you might be wondering what it is. Does it refer to eco-friendliness, the economy, or both?

The eco wash in a washing machine uses less water and electricity than its regular counterparts. They also spin faster than washers that don’t have the HE (high-efficiency) label. These qualities make eco wash machines easier on the environment and your bank account. 

While some washing machines have an eco-wash option, other washing machines are completely eco-wash and only have efficient wash options.

Is Eco Wash Better Than Quick Wash?

Eco wash and quick wash machines have a few things in common. For example, they use lower temperatures than other washers. But if you had to choose one of them, which is the better choice?

Eco wash is better than quick wash overall. The former washes heavier loads more effectively than the latter without sacrificing eco-friendliness. But because eco wash uses a more powerful spin than a quick wash, you don’t want to use it too often for delicate fabrics like wool, cashmere, and silk.

But the time it takes to wash laundry in an eco-wash might not be effective and can end up using more power and other resources than a quick wash.

Why Are Eco Washes Longer?

You want to use an eco wash machine, but you don’t like the idea of taking three hours to wash a single laundry load. So why are eco washes three times as long as regular washes?

Eco washes are longer because they use less power than other washing programs. Power usually goes to heating the water and increasing agitation. Because eco washes have less of both, they take longer to wash to compensate for the decreased use of power. 

Even if they take longer to clean, eco washers use less energy.

Why Does My Washing Machine Take So Long To Wash Clothes?

If you’re like most people, you want your washer to clean as quickly as possible. After all, you can barely fit an hour of doing laundry into most days. There are reasons your washing machine takes a long time to do your laundry.

Many washing machines are energy-efficient, which means they use less power, translating to longer wash cycles. They also use less water, meaning that the rinse part is less efficient and takes longer. A longer wash cycle can also indicate that you need to check whether your washer is working well. 

Sometimes, your washing machine might take longer because you have an extra rinse or wash setting turned on without realizing it. Before thinking that your washing machine is on the fritz, check your settings to make sure they are set to normal.  

Is It Normal for a Washing Machine To Take 3 Hours?

A washer can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours to do the laundry. But what if it takes three or four hours? Is that normal?

It’s normal for an eco-friendly washer to take three hours to do the laundry. But if you’re not using an eco-friendly or HE machine, you may want to look into possible mechanical issues. The laundry load might be too heavy, or there might be defects in the control panel or water inlet valve.  

Again, suppose your non-HE washing machine takes a longer time than average to complete a wash cycle. In that case, you might want to check if the settings are in their normal position. 

For example, if your rinse setting is set to “extra-rinse,” then your machine will take some extra time to complete that cycle.

Learn how to care for your washing machine in my guide here.

How Long Does It Take To Hand-Wash Laundry?

The average American household washes 50 lbs (22.68 kg) of laundry per week. When you put it that way, hand washing seems daunting and impractical compared to machine washing. But how long does hand washing take?

Hand washing laundry can take an hour and 15 minutes. The time may differ depending on the load size and the number of stains you need to remove. If you pre-soak your laundry for at least 30 minutes beforehand, you can shorten your wash time since pre-soaking makes dirt easier to remove.

Is Hand Washing Clothes Effective?

If you’re asking whether hand washing clothes saves time and effort, the answer is a definite “No.” That said, hand washing has its benefits.

Hand washing clothes can be effective when done right. You can hand wash items that can get damaged in a high-spin washer like underwear, lace, and wool. You can also save electricity when you hand wash clothes, although you may use more water. 

Hand washing also works well for spot stains. Knowing how to hand wash your laundry might come in handy if you end up without electricity or running water due to an emergency.

Here’s my full guide on doing laundry by hand that may interest you.

How Long Does Laundry Take To Dry Outside?

The drying process is just as necessary as the washing process for clothes. Drying makes the difference between clothes that are ready to wear and clothes that should go back into the washer. If you just washed your favorite shirt, how long will it take before you can wear it again?

Laundry can dry outside within two to four hours, assuming you’re drying them on a sunny day with little or no breeze. It also depends on how well you dried them beforehand, the size of the clothes, and the fabric thickness.

Of course, this also depends on if a freak storm comes out and drenches your hanging laundry. If you notice a storm coming, make sure to take down the clothes and bring them inside quickly. You can always try again after the storm passes.

I wrote a step-by-step guide on line-drying clothes that you can check out next.

What Is the Minimum Temperature for Drying Clothes Outside?

From a common-sense perspective, warmer temperatures should dry clothes faster. After all, as your science teacher would tell you, heat causes water to evaporate. But is it as simple as that when it comes to laundry?

There’s no minimum temperature for drying clothes outside. As long as the air is dry, your clothes will lose their moisture regardless of the surrounding temperature. It’s possible to freeze-dry clothes during the winter if you live in colder climates. 

Temperature also doesn’t matter as much if there is a lot of wind. Unless the winds are too strong, clothes on your clothesline should dry nicely with a good breeze no matter the temperature.

How Many Hours a Week Should You Do Laundry?

If you’re like most people, you probably only have time to do the laundry on weekends. Whether you wash on Saturdays or Sundays, you’re wondering how many hours it should take you to wash your clothes.

Most people spend around four hours a week doing laundry. Pre-soaking, if you do that, takes about half an hour, washing and drying take about two to three hours, and folding takes about an hour. 

Any of the above can take longer or shorter depending on the laundry load, the type of laundry, or the washing method. 

Is It Better To Do Laundry Every Day or Once a Week?

A while back I asked our community how often they do laundry. More on this here.

If you have an extra hour or two to spare on weekdays, you’re probably considering whether you should use that time to do the laundry. After all, a lighter weekly laundry load is a good thing.

It isn’t necessary to do your laundry every day or even once a week if you have enough supplies to get you through. Instead, do your laundry as often as the laundry type requires. 

Good Housekeeping suggests that you launder dishes, hand towels and washcloths every day, and bedding every week. But again, the timing is up to you and your personal comfort level.

What Is the Best Time for Laundry?

Believe it or not, some times are better for doing laundry than others. Energy companies have “peak hours” where they charge more due to increased electricity usage.

The best time for laundry is outside “peak hours,” which usually fall between 4 and 7 p.m. In other words, you’ll save on electricity if you do your laundry early in the morning or late in the evening. To maximize laundry time, pre-soak your clothes for at least 30 minutes before washing.


You only have so many hours in a day, so it’s good to estimate the optimal time for washing clothes. I hope my article helped even a little bit with your laundry time management.  

I’ve created a comprehensive guide on how to use all the settings on your washing machine that may interest you.


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