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Understanding Dishwasher Cycles

Understanding Dishwasher Cycles

Dishwashers have many cycles, but what do they all mean? Here’s your guide!

Using a dishwasher saves time and energy and ensures that your dishware is truly clean. However, the machine itself is just the beginning of achieving those sparkling clean results. Utilizing the dishwasher’s cycles can help you achieve a better clean and on your schedule. Here’s an explanation of the most common dishwasher cycles.

Wash Cycles


The normal cycle is what one might expect: it is the standard setting to wash dishes with typical soil levels. It might not do justice to your heavily soiled pots and pans, but it will give your regular dishes a fantastic finish. Newer dishwashers might take longer to run a normal cycle, but in the long run, it saves on water.


Also called the “pots and pans” cycle on some models, this is the heavy-duty cycle that can blast off all the built-up grime that accumulated on your toughest dishware. Baking dishes, pots and pans, and other items with big messes could use this cycle. Just remember to scrape off as much waste as possible beforehand!


On the other hand, the normal cycle might be too much for your crystal, glassware, and fine china. You don’t have to settle for washing them all by hand; this cycle takes care of them without risking damage.

Quick Wash

The other name for quick wash is the 1-hour cycle. A dishwasher typically takes at least 1.5 hours to do a load, but the 1-hour cycle makes washing up fast. If you are in a hurry, you will want to use this cycle. Because it takes a shorter time, it uses higher heat and more water at once.

Rinse Only

Why would you want a rinse only cycle, especially since pre-rinsing your dishes is frowned upon? The rinse only or prewash cycle keeps dirty food from sitting for a long time and festering germs. It is helpful if you are not washing the dishes right away.


The sensor cycle automatically sets the temperature and wash and dry cycles based on the load size and the soil level. It is helpful when washing a variety of dishware with varying soil levels.


The eco-mode setting specifically uses less water to save on energy in dishwashing. It will take longer than the average wash, but you will be able to save on the cost. This is preferable for a load with a light or typical soil level.


The delay button on your dishwasher allows you to choose and schedule your dishwasher cycle ahead of time. You might be running the machine at night when electricity costs are lower, so you might use it then.


High temperatures kill germs and viruses, and so do the high temperature waters used in the sanitize cycle of a dishwasher. A regular cycle will clean your dishes well, but some prefer the option of an occasional high heat rinse.

Dry Cycles

Some dishwashers will automatically pop open after the wash and allow the dishes to begin drying immediately. Other models might include a heated rinse, which ramps up the heat at the end so that the water will evaporate more quickly. Others still use a fan to blow dry the dishes.

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