A dishwasher makes your life easy by taking care of the most displeasing household chore: dishwashing. A built-in dishwasher comes with various wash cycles and options. To get the most out of your machine and, more importantly, get clean and spotless dishes, it is imperative to understand how the cycles work and which cycle is best for specific dishes and conditions.
Please note that this article is not a substitute for your dishwasher’s user manual. Your dishwasher may have a wash cycle or option that isn’t mentioned in this article. This article will cover wash cycles found in the majority of models and explain which cycle is best suited for a particular task.
Before we explain all the wash cycles on your dishwasher, we would like to explain and compare two commonly used cycles; 1-hour wash and normal cycle.
Dishwasher 1 Hour Cycle vs. Normal – Explained
The 1-hour wash cycle comes with different names such as Express Wash, Quick, and Speed60 (Bosch dishwashers).
A 1-hour wash is best when you need to clean your dishes quickly. It comes in handy when you have guests coming over, and your kitchen is littered with dirty dishes. The 1-hour wash cycle uses more water and heat to clean the dishes super-fast. It enables the users to run two quick cycles in a shorter time than running 1 cycle in other modes.
A quick or rapid cycle shortens the wash time and brings it under an hour. The specific time may vary depending on the model and brand. This cycle is best for lightly soiled dishes.
For an average load, this is the best option. The time may vary from one model to another, but it is usually around 2-3 hours.
This cycle is also labeled a daily wash in many dishwashers and is best for normally soiled dishes. It will work best when your dishes don’t have any particularly tough or baked-on foods. This cycle works without using extra amounts of water and heat and is best for getting an economical wash. If you are looking to tone down water and energy usage by your dishwasher, we suggest you use a normal wash cycle.
Wash Cycles on a Dishwasher
Newer dishwashers have sensors installed to judge the level of soil on your dishes and then automatically adjust the wash timings. This cycle may take the place of all the cycles on your dishwasher in the near future, but we can’t be certain about it.
This cycle is like a magic trick. You load your dishes, press the button, and let the dishwasher do the math by taking into account the level of soil on your dishes and automatically initiating the cycle with regards to heat, water usage, and duration.
The cycle may come with different names on your dishwasher. KitchenAid has “ProWash,” Miele has “Sensor,” and Bosch has “Auto.”
This cycle is best for mixed loads with different soil levels.
Delicate/Glass Wash/Sensitive/Light Wash
Sensitive dishes such as glassware, crystals, and fine china require delicate care. For all such dishes, a sensitive wash cycle is available in dishwashers. This cycle reduces the power of spraying streams to avoid knocking over the items and breaking them. Moreover, it also functions at a lower temperature, around 100°F.
However, we recommend checking dishwasher-safe logo on your dishes before putting any sensitive dishes in the dishwasher. It is also recommended to make sure that glassware items don’t touch each other to avoid knocking.
This program is best for fragile items and normally soiled dishes. Many people use this program to wash baby bottles and baby items and select a sanitization option along with it.
Eco wash is the most environment friendly wash cycle in your dishwasher. It is also called “Energy-Saver” or “Eco-program” in different dishwashers.
The eco wash cycle uses less heat and water compared to normal and quick wash cycles. However, it runs longer than normal and quick cycles. A longer cycle means that it will consume more electricity for completing the cycle.
With the eco mode, the temperature reaches a maximum of 100°F-120°F. This mode often involves skipping heating the plates for drying and focuses on air-drying by opening the dishwasher door.
This dishwasher cycle is best for mixed loads and intermediate soil levels.
This cycle is designed for pots and pans and heavily soiled dishes with baked-on food particles. It is best for dishes that would require soaking for at least 1-2 hours in hot water if you were to wash them in a sink.
The cycle cleans baked-on and greased dishes, pots, and pans by using more water and energy than normal and eco cycle. The water temperature inside your dishwasher can go up to 150°F, but it will vary from one model to another. The heavy mode will run for longer than other wash cycles and consume more water and electricity.
Some dishwashers don’t come with a heavy mode. You can still wash pots and pans in them, but you will need to pre-rinse the dishes and remove baked-on particles.
A rinse wash is best when you need to only remove food leftovers and soil particles on your dishes. It will not wash your dishes but just prepare them for a washing cycle.
It is recommended not to use any detergent with the rinse cycle on your dishwasher. The rinse cycle comes in handy when you don’t have a full load of dishes to wash and don’t want the food to reside to become stubborn.
Running a pre-rinse and normal cycle is still eco-friendly and less costly than running a heavy or intensive cycle.
A lot of dishwashers come with an option called “SaniWash or Sani-Rinse.” It is a high-temperature wash program that offers deep cleaning and kills germs on your dishes. Many parents use this setting for washing baby bottles and toys in the dishwasher.
Sanitize wash lengthens the wash cycle and kills the germs on your dishes. Apart from baby bottles, it is also best for sanitizing cutting trays and germ-laden cookware.
Settings and Modes on a Dishwasher
A dishwasher comes with various modes and settings that make your life easy by allowing you maximum control over your appliance. Let’s check the settings and modes commonly found in built-in dishwashers.
The delay start mode allows you to select a time of your liking to run the dishwasher. Most people pick a time when the electricity rate is off-peak or when the water is at full pressure.
Extra dry mode is designed to provide better drying for items that are hard to dry, like plastics. However, it will consume more energy and increase the cycle duration.
Half load mode is best for families that are unable to use dishes that can fill a big dishwasher. It reduces energy, water consumption, and time.
It is the mode that allows you to run a machine cleaning cycle with a commercial cleaning product. The machine care cycle or self-clean cycle removes grime and lime scale buildup. However, it will not clean the filters and spray arms in your dishwasher. You will have to do them manually.
Many dishwashers come with timer modes that allow you to adjust the cycle according to the number and soil level on dishes. The options in timer mode are 30 minutes, 60 minutes, and 90 minutes.
Variable Speed and Variable Temperature
These modes allow the users to adjust the speed and temperature for a particular cycle. These settings are independent of the cycle and don’t impact the cycle’s time but alter water speed and temperature.
What is the estimated time on a normal wash cycle?
The cycle duration varies from one brand to another, but the standard is 2:40 to 3:20 in most dishwashers.
How fast is a quick wash/1-hour cycle?
A quick wash or 1-hour cycle is usually 1:00-1:45 hours.
When should I use a high-temperature cycle?
A high-temperature cycle is best for dishes with baked-on particles, greased dishes, and oil residue. The minimum temperature in this cycle is 130°F.
Is it better to rinse your dishes in the dishwasher or by hand?
It depends on the number of dishes you want to rinse and how dirty they are. The best way is to remove the large particles and use a dishwasher to rinse the dishes. The filter in your dishwasher cleans the water is pumped back in the machine.
Dishwashers come with so many options that an average homeowner stops deciphering them soon after buying a new machine. Most homeowners settle for normal mode as it offers the best of everything; medium-length cycle, spotless cleaning, water, and electricity conservation.