Dishwasher cycles, functions and settings explained

Dishwasher Cycle, Setting and Functions: Easy to Understand Guide

Kitchen, Reviews

‘Necessity is the mother of all inventions’ – this concept has been the backbone for many inventions in the previous decades. Surprisingly, it also applies to dishwashers as well.

Would you believe that the concept of dishwashers came into existence because a socialite hated hand-washing dishes after dinner parties? With the evolution of dishwashers and the need for them, washing dishes has now become a breeze, especially when it does not require wasting energy as in the case of hand washing.

Dishwashers are now a basic necessity. With all the churning and swishing around, you might not even think about the dishwasher functions so profoundly.

So, let us take a look at the best dishwasher cycles and understand the cycles you can use.

How to select the appropriate dishwasher cycles?

Like most of us, if you have ever started the dishwasher, you have generally proceeded with the normal settings. This may be okay for everyday items. What if you have a birthday party at home? What if you are hosting the annual Thanksgiving Dinner? What if you are planning a simple romantic dinner with your special someone and want to try making the special pasta dish you saw online? These are times you will want to pull out those special dishes.

The ones you got during your wedding or that were passed down from generation to generation. That is when you need to pull out the big guns to wash out heavy-duty items. But when it is finally time to choose one cycle – it can get confusing.

So, let us take a look at the different cycles of dishwashers you can choose from:

Also read: 13 Dishwasher Brands to Avoid

Explaining Different Dishwasher Cycles

1. Fast / Express / Turbo / Rapid /Quick Wash

The turbo or express wash uses extra water and heat to clean your dishes quickly. This dishwasher cycle uses more energy than the normal wash one. But it is perfect for cleaning dishes you may need soon. The cycle can run around an hour. You can use this cycle when you have sudden guests coming over or just want to use the good dishes for a special occasion at home.

2. Normal / Daily Wash

Perfect for everyday wash cycles, this standard or daily wash cleans moderately soiled items without excess water. You can select the air dry or heat dry option in this dishwasher cycle. But it takes longer to wash the dishes than the Fast or Turbo wash. This is the best cycle for everyday dishes. Most people just run their dishwashers overnight so they can wake up to clean dishes in the morning.

3. Sensor / Automatic

The Automatic or sensor wash helps detect the dirt and load size level to determine the washing and drying time for your dishes. This is the perfect dishwasher cycle if you are loading mixed dishes with different food levels attached. Choose this cycle when you have parties or dinner dates. That way, no matter the items loaded, you will have clean dishes in the end.

4. Eco wash

If you are worried about the environment and the excess amounts of water other dishwasher cycles use. Then, you can use the eco-wash process. Here, the temperature is lower, and less water is used. But the downside is that the cycle takes longer time. So, if you are okay with having the dishwasher functions run for a longer time, you can use this dishwasher cycle. The best time to use this cycle is at night. This way, you are saving water and electricity but do not have to sit for it to finish.

5. Heavy / Intensive / Pots / Chef Wash

When you have a heavy-duty cycle, then using the heavy or intensive wash is perfect. The cycle uses extra water blasts to clean out the tough, baked-on or fried food stains. Choose this dishwasher cycle when you use heavy-duty items to make the sunday roast or a meatloaf. That way, you can add all the dishes and clean them off in one go.

6. Prewash – Delicate – Glass wash – Rinse wash

The Prewash cycle allows you to soak dishes that have food stuck on them. This saves time as you do not have to presoak the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. The delicate or China wash uses gentle water and low temperatures to prevent any damage to fragile China dishes or crystal champagne flutes. 

On the other hand, the rinse wash is perfect for washing your dishes with water. If you use this cycle, then remember not to add any detergent. The rinse aid option is ideal when you want to run time a full load but are waiting for people to finish eating.

7. High Temp/Sanitize

By using the higher temperature dishwasher cycle, you can get rid of the tough baked food or greasy residue left behind on your dishes. The dishwasher will raise the temperature to improve the wash cycle and remove any tough stains. 

Some dishwashers have a sanitized cycle that helps increase the temperature and cycle time to sanitize glasses and dishes. Now you can say bye-bye to those red lipstick stains without having to pre-wash the glasses.

8. Options for Drying

If you only want to dry out your dishes, then most dishwasher functions have drying options such as Heat Dry and Extended Dry available. The Heat Dry option circulates hot air to evaporate the water on the dishes. This cycle adds 30 minutes to the cycle, depending on the dishwasher model. 

On the other hand, the Extended Dry option increases the final rinse water temperature or the Heat Dry time. This cycle has better drying options by reducing the water drops on glasses. The best time to use the drying cycle is when you have many glasses or crystal items and do not want those horrible water spots.

Other dishwasher settings and functions

There are some other dishwasher benefits and functions that can help make your washing journey smoother. These include:

  • Delay start: This wash cycle lets you decide when you want your dishwasher to run. You can simply set the cycle you want, set a timer, and then carry about on your day.
  • Half load: If you are a single person or a small family unit, then the half load cycle is perfect for you. The half-load setting can be used to wash off lightly soiled dishes and has a running time of only a few minutes.
  • Extra rinse cycle or drying option: These cycles are great for removing any excess residue or dishwasher detergent particles. This can be used to wash off children’s dirty dishes to ensure no soap suds or food particles are on them.
  • Maintenance & Care: New dishwashers now offer self-cleaning options. By pressing a simple button, you can easily clean the machine to stop any mould or bacteria growth.
  • Child locking feature: Is your child a little curious? Do they always keep pressing buttons around the house? Then you need this! Just press the delay start button for 3 seconds. Once the lock is released, then only you will be able to select the cycle.
  • Cleaning filters: If you have an old dishwasher, you can use a self-cleaning dishwasher filter option. Sadly, this is not present in new dishwashers. You need to manually remove the filter and clean dishwasher filter.
  • Time frame: The dishwasher cycle depends on the cycle you choose. If you choose a normal cycle, then it takes a minimum of 2 hours. But if you have a heavy load, then it might take 4 hours. The entire time frame will depend on the dishes to be washed.

Dishwasher Cycles FAQs

1) How can you select the appropriate dishwasher cycle?

Your standard dishwasher cycle will depend on three significant aspects – the type of dishes to be washed, the load of dishes and how dirty the dishes are.

2) How many cycles do most dishwashers have?

Most normal dishwashers have 3 main cycles – prewash, main wash and final rinse. But some can come with unique cycles such as eco wash, heavy wash, sanitizer wash and others.

3) Which are the best dishwasher brands?

Some of the best dishwasher brands are Bosch dishwasher, MatTag dishwasher, Electrolux, Miele dishwasher, Whirlpool, Fisher & Paykel, and Voltas.

4) How much cycle time does a dishwasher take?

A dishwasher cycle can take anywhere from 10 minutes (prewash cycle) to 4 hours (heavy wash cycle).

5) How much water supply and electricity do dishwashers consume?

Average dishwashers consume 6-7 gallons of water and about 1800 watts of electricity for every load.

6) Is the hottest cycle on the dishwasher safe?

The hottest temperature in the dishwasher can lead to severe burns and injuries because it is at least 20 to 40 degrees above boiling point. So, it is not safe to open the dishwasher when it is running on a cycle.    

7) Is it okay to open the dishwasher in mid-cycle?

It is not good to open the dishwasher when it is running. The water inside reaches really hot temperatures that may cause burns and injuries.

Key Takeaways

When choosing a dishwasher cycle, make sure that you follow the requirements in terms of detergent load and others. Also, your dishwasher cycle will depend on the quantity and quality of dishes you want to wash.

Depending on your dishwasher’s brand and price range, you can even get special settings such as prewash or maintenance & care. But it is best to check available options in the market and choose one that suits your daily needs. If you are a smaller family, getting an industrial dishwasher does not make sense, and vice versa. So, choose a dishwasher as per your requirements.  

Remember, just like all appliances, dishwashers need some TLC. So, clean out the filters at least once a month or get a professional to check the drain hose and parts accessories. That way, it will ensure that your dishwasher repair is maintained, that it works for a more extended period, and your dishes come out sparkling and squeaky clean after every wash.

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