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What is the Normal Cycle on Washing Machines? (How to use it)

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When you use the washer regularly, you’re tempted to set it to the normal cycle every time and just let it do its thing.

But have you considered what goes on behind the scenes under the normal cycle and what happens to the laundry from the moment you drop it into the washer until you take it out?

The normal cycle on washing machines often refers to the cycle you use for everyday washing.

  • It uses fast agitation and moderate water temperatures between 120 and 140 degrees F.
  • It’s best suited for cotton and blended fabrics with medium soil.
  • The cycle averages 90 minutes to finish.

That’s the quick take. But if you take a deeper look into the normal cycle, you would be surprised with how much the clothes go through. Read more to find out about the normal cycle and how to use it. 

What is the Normal Cycle?

The "Normal" Washer Program;: When and how to use it
Here is a video I made on how to use the regular program on your washer. On my washer it is called “Cottons” but it is generally the same as it’s other names “normal” and “regular.

The normal cycle is the most commonly used cycle on the washing machine. You should use it with everyday wash and cotton fabrics.

Towels, sheets, and blended fabrics are best suited for the normal cycle’s fast agitation and moderate water temperatures.

On average, the normal cycle would take about 90 minutes to finish. However, some washer brands would finish in 60 minutes. 

Keep in mind that the laundry gets some harsh treatment during this cycle due to the amount of agitation.

So avoid adding delicate or sensitive fabrics to the load under this cycle.

Main Phases of the Normal Cycle

Before we get to using the normal cycle, we need to understand what goes on behind the scenes when you set your washer to this setting.

If you keep an eye on the washer from the moment you start a cycle until it finishes, you will notice that each cycle goes through the same phases or stages. 

These stages are the following.


The washer doesn’t start washing and agitating the laundry right away. It takes its time to heat the water to the right temperature and fill the tub with it.

During this time, the laundry detergent, along with the stain removers and fabric softeners, get diluted into the water.

And then the clothes sit in this water. You might think that the washer is stalled. But this is the pre-wash stage. The washer is soaking the laundry in the water to allow the detergent and stain removers to work their magic on the stains.

The pre-wash phase is different among the various cycles. But during the normal cycle, it might take between 10 to 15 minutes. 


That’s where the real work gets done. Slowly but surely, the washer starts rotating the tub in different directions. The result is water agitation at various speeds. 

This water agitation is what actually gets the stains out of the clothes. The normal cycle uses fast agitation, which can be harsh for certain fabrics.

But cotton and blended fabrics can take this level of agitation without any damage to the fabrics or the colors.

Contrary to what you might think, the washing cycle is not that long. It might take up to 10 minutes before the tub is emptied.


Rinsing is often the longest stage of the normal cycle. It takes between 3 to 4 rinses to get all traces of the detergents out of the clothes. The first rinse washes the suds and chemicals out of the laundry. 

This is followed by a second rinse that sprays the clothes with jets of hot water. In the normal cycle, the water temperature for the washing and rinsing stages is the same. 

Fast agitation in different directions is the key to good rinsing. It’s also the most efficient way to wash all chemicals and odors out of the laundry.


Once the last rinse is done, the tub is emptied, and the washer goes into the last stage. It spins the wet laundry at high speeds averaging 1,200 rotations per minute.

Some washer brands use higher spin speeds for the normal cycle.

The speed of the spinning increases the temperature inside of the tub, which is a necessary step to kill any germs in the laundry that might have survived the washing and rinsing stages.

The washer will often change speed and reverse the rotation direction in order to minimize wrinkles and creases. 

The spinning cycle averages 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the washer brand and model you’re using. 

How to Use the Normal Cycle

Before you push the Start button on your washer, you need to sort out the laundry and select the different settings.

Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide to using the normal cycle on different washers.

  1. Make sure you only have cotton and blended fabrics for this load. The clothes should have medium soil. Any heavy stains would require a different cycle.
  2. Check the tags on the clothes for any special washing instructions. All the clothes in the load should tolerate temperatures between 120 and 140 degrees F. 
  3. Take out any new clothes, especially colors, since they tend to bleed during the first wash.
  4. Separate the clothes by color. Dark colors go into a separate pile from light colors. Whites have their own pile. As much as possible, wash each pile in its own load.
  5. Add the laundry detergent and fabric softener to their respective drawers according to the size of the load.
  6. Choose the normal cycle on the panel or rotate the dial to select it depending on your washer.
  7. Front-loaders won’t let you set the water temperature or water levels. These settings are pre-programmed into the normal cycle. But with some top loaders, you can customize the water level and temperature.
  8. Press the Start button and come back in 90 minutes to put the laundry out.


The normal cycle is designed for everyday clothes as well as cotton and blended fabrics. It uses fast agitation and water temperatures between 120 and 140 degrees F. to remove stains

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


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