How Long Does It Take to Wash & Dry Clothes?

How much time should it really take for your clothes to wash and dry? These are the laundry details and speedy hacks you need.

Published July 19, 2023
woman waiting at laundromat

Laundry often feels like the longest chore on your list because there can be so much waiting between washing and drying loads. So, how long does it really take to wash clothes? Can you make the drying process faster? We discovered the whole process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Don't worry, we also discovered tested ways to speed up the washing and drying processes.

How Long Does It Take to Wash Clothes?

The entire process of prepping, washing, drying, and putting clothes away could take a few hours. But the washing process shouldn't take more than an hour, on average, per load. In fact, it can take a lot less time than that depending on the method you use.

Washing in the Machine

If you're cleaning your clothes in a washer, it's important to understand what type of washer you have and how that impacts the speed of your washing process.

  • Front-loading washing machines: 95 minutes on average.
  • Top-loading washing machines: About an hour.
  • High-efficiency washing machines: 60-70 minutes.

The time it takes for different machines to wash your clothes is impacted by the machine's use of water and how slowly it works. Many machines are designed to wash your clothing slowly so your garments aren't damaged and the cleanliness level is up to your standards.

Washing by Hand

Washing your clothes by hand is effective and often advised by the garment care instructions. Depending on your method (and just how stained or soiled the clothes are), this process can take a few minutes or a couple of hours.

If you're just spot-cleaning, hand washing should only take a couple of minutes. Detergent and a bit of water being your only tools, this isolated scrubbing process makes for a quick wash and dry time.

For delicates, heavily soiled clothing, or a stained garment, there may be a long soaking period involved - a couple of hours in some cases. Generally, soaking your clothing prior to scrubbing adds 10-30 minutes to the process. The washing process: scrubbing, wringing, and agitating could take up another 5-15 minutes of your time. Toss in five or so minutes for rinsing, and you're looking at 45 minutes to 2 hours in order to thoroughly wash your clothes by hand.

How to Wash Clothes Faster

Just realized your favorite blouse is in the hamper and it's the one you hoped to wear to your interview? These laundry hacks should help you wash your clothing a little quicker, whether you're using a machine or washing by hand.

  • Use the "eco" setting on your washer (this may also be listed as a "light wash").
  • Try a lighter load - especially for garments you need right away.
  • Remove heavily soiled clothing and wash them separately.
  • Pretreat harsh stains before adding to the wash.
  • Soak clothing in a sink or basin so you can choose a shorter wash cycle.
  • Rinse off excess dirt or debris before tossing garments in your machine.
  • Wash coarse and light textured items separately.

How Long Does It Take to Dry Clothes?

women hanging clothes

The drying process is sometimes the longer of the laundry steps, depending on how large your load is and what method you use. Using a dryer or air drying your clothes can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours.

Drying in the Machine

Most loads of laundry should dry in your machine in 30-45 minutes, but large loads or heavy garments could take more than an hour to dry completely.

These items shouldn't take more than 45 minutes to dry:

  • A small to medium load of various fabrics and materials
  • Lightweight garments
  • A single set of sheets
  • A load of baby clothes
  • Dish towels and washcloths

These items might take close to an hour or more to thoroughly dry:

  • Bath towels
  • Heavy blankets
  • Multiple sets of bedding
  • Denim garments
  • Shoes
  • Stuffed animals
  • Coats and outerwear

There are even items that take less than half an hour to dry in your machine:

  • Delicates and undergarments
  • A few lightweight shirts or kid clothing items
  • Single items you may have stain treated or washed separately
Need to Know

If it's taking multiple cycles before you notice a difference in how dry your clothes are, there may be an issue with your machine.

Air Drying

Air drying is the longest process for getting your clothes dry - maybe we should use that in place of "watching paint dry." Depending on the material of your garment, this process can take anywhere between one hour to one full day. The general rule of thumb is that the smaller and lighter the item, the less time it will take to dry. If the item in question is heavy, large, or saturated with water, it will take longer to dry.

Another factor you'll need to consider is the environment. If you're air drying your clothes outside, the process can be hindered by unexpected weather conditions or a high percentage of moisture in the air. Of course, your clothing may also dry quicker in warmer temperatures compared to cold ones.

How to Dry Clothes Faster

Whether you're tossing them in the dryer or hanging them on the line, there are a few things you can do to help your clothing along as it dries.

  • For indoor air drying, hang large garments and bedding on a drying rack to increase air flow.
  • Lay delicates flat to dry, according to garment instructions.
  • Use a fan in the area you're drying the clothes to simulate a breeze.
  • Use a salad spinner to get the excess water out of hand-washed items.
  • Plug in your hair dryer - hey, you know you thought about doing that anyway - and dry the clothes just as you would your hair.
  • Use the hottest setting your clothes can handle on your dryer.
  • Add a clean, dry towel to your dryer to encourage your clothing to dry faster.
  • Use a high spin cycle or opt for an extra spin cycle when washing your garments.
  • Make sure your lint screen is clean so your dryer performs well.

Wash & Dry Clothes Quickly

There is no official amount of time you can count on when it comes to washing and drying your clothes. But with some control over your environment and laundry methods, you might be able to speed up the process. No matter how long it takes, there are two things to celebrate: the laundry is done and your clothes are clean.

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How Long Does It Take to Wash & Dry Clothes?