Whirlpool Dishwasher Cycles Explained

If you own a Whirlpool dishwasher you’ll have noticed that it has lots of cycles to choose from. This can be confusing if you’re not sure which is the correct cycle to use. If this is the situation you find yourself in, keep reading.

In this article we look at the different cycles available on Whirlpool dishwashers and explain exactly what they’re for and when to use them.

Whirlpool Dishwasher Cycles

Whirlpool Dishwasher CycleUsageApproximate Duration
Pre WashSoaking dried on foods6 to 8 minutes
Quick WashGetting dishes clean quickly30 to 60 minutes
Normal CycleCleaning regular dirty dishes90 to 120 minutes (1 ½ to 2 hours)
Heavy CycleCleaning heavily soiled dishes165 to 240 minutes (2 ¾ to 4 hours)
Delicate CycleCleaning fragile dishes/glassware30 minutes
Sensor CycleAutomatically works out the best time and heat depending on load size and level of soiling120 to195 minutes (2 to 3 ¼ hours)
High Temp CycleRemoving stubborn stains5 to 13 minutes
Heat DryDries dishes using heat30 minutes
Sani RinseRemoves germs & bacteria and sanitises dishes60 to 90 minutes (1 to 1 ½ hours)
Soak & CleanRemoving baked on foods375 minutes (6 ¼ hours)
Extended DryExtra drying time30 minutes

Let’s look at those cycles in more detail;

What Is Pre Wash On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The pre wash cycle on a Whirlpool dishwasher is used to soak dishes that have baked on or dried on food stains. The pre wash cycle lasts for around 6 to 8 minutes and can use up to 10 gallons of water.

What Is The Quick Wash Cycle On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The quick wash cycle on a Whirlpool dishwasher is sometimes called the “1 hour wash cycle” and takes anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes. 

However, if you include the drying time the overall duration of this cycle is around 90 to 108 minutes and uses around 7 to 7 ½ gallons of water.

It’s best suited for dishes that are only lightly soiled and is best for crockery and cutlery but not so good at cleaning pots and pans. 

What Is The Normal Wash Cycle On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The normal wash cycle is the most commonly used cycle on a Whirlpool dishwasher and is ideal for dishes with a regular amount of soiling.

It will take anywhere between 2 ½ to 10 gallons of water and runs for around 2 ¾ to just over 3 hours including heated drying time.

What Is The Heavy Cycle On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The heavy cycle is designed for washing those pots, pans and dishes with the heaviest soiling. It takes anywhere between 2 ¾ to 4 hours and uses between 9 ¼ to 10 gallons of water.

What Is The Delicate Cycle On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The delicate cycle on a Whirlpool dishwasher is designed for washing glassware and other delicate dishes. It uses low heat and doesn’t include any solid bursts of water to protect those delicate items. The delicate cycle runs for around 30 minutes and is one of the shortest cycles on a Whirlpool dishwasher.

open dishwasher

What Is The Sensor Cycle On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The sensor cycle uses sensors to detect how many dishes are loaded into the appliance and how dirty those dishes are. It then automatically sets the optimum temperature, wash time and water usage.

It runs for anywhere between 2 to 3 ¼ hours and uses an average of 9 ¼ to 10 gallons of water.

What Is The High Temp Cycle On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The high temp cycle is designed to remove heavy soiling and baked on foods from dishes. It has a minimum temperature of 55 C (130 F) and works best when used in conjunction with rinse aid.

The cycle runs for around 5 to 13 minutes and uses around 7 ½ gallons of water. This cycle is usually paired with the normal, heavy or sensor cycles for optimum results.

What Is The Heat Dry Cycle On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The heat dry cycle generates hot air which circles around the dishes to get them dry quickly. It’s a great cycle when you need your dishes dry in a hurry.

This cycle adds an extra 30 minutes or so to whichever cycle you have paired it with and is often used alongside the quick wash, normal, heavy and sensor cycles.

What Is The Sani Rinse Cycle On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The sani rinse cycle on a Whirlpool dishwasher raises the temperature of the water used for washing and rinsing. This ensures that 99.99% of all bacteria and germs are removed from your dishes.

This cycle adds an extra 60 to 90 minutes to the duration of the cycle it’s paired with and uses around 7 ½ gallons of water. It is best used in conjunction with normal, heavy and sensor cycles.

What Is The Soak & Clean Cycle On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The soak & clean cycle pre-soaks the soiled dishes and then goes on to wash them. This means it takes far longer than any of the other cycles with an average run time of 6 ¼ hours.

It works best if you add a prewash detergent to ensure all of the stains are removed and it uses around 10 gallons of water.

What Is The Extended Dry Cycle On A Whirlpool Dishwasher?

The extended dry cycle on a Whirlpool dishwasher is an upgraded version of the heat dry cycle and is more energy efficient. It’s not available on all models but is worth running if your Whirlpool dishwasher has it.

This cycle adds an extra 30 minutes or so to the duration of any cycle and is often used alongside the normal, heavy and sensor cycles.


What Do The Symbols Displayed On A Whirlpool Dishwasher Mean?

When in operation, a Whirlpool dishwasher uses a number of symbols to indicate the cycle running and other information. These include;

  • 1h
    The 1h symbol indicates that the Whirlpool dishwasher is running a one hour cycle (like the quick wash).
  • Eco
    The eco symbol indicates that the appliance is using an energy and water saving cycle which usually takes a longer duration than many other cycles.
  • Key
    The key symbol indicates that the child lock has been activated. If you see this symbol be aware that the dishwasher will not run whilst the child lock is activated so it will need to be deactivated before you can use the appliance.
  • Auto
    The auto symbol indicates the dishwasher is running an automatic cycle typically used when washing normally soiled dishes at temperatures of 45 to 65 C (113 to 149 F).
  • Glass 40 C
    This symbol shows a low temperature cycle and is used for fragile items like glassware and fine china.
  • On Light
    This symbol shows that the dishwasher is running.

The above symbol list is by no means comprehensive for further information, you should consult your user manual.

How Long Should Your Whirlpool Dishwasher Run?

If you’ve recently replaced your dishwasher, you might have noticed the new model has a longer run time. This is due to advanced technology and the use of less water and energy than older models.

As they use less water and energy, they need a longer run time to achieve the same level of cleanliness. This is done by the use of sensors that can determine the levels of dirt etc and the correct run time to remove it.

The first cycle you run on your new Whirlpool dishwasher could take substantially longer than any subsequent cycle. This is because the sensors need to calibrate and you should not interrupt this first cycle at all. This allows the sensors to adjust so that they can operate at peak performance.

Why Does My Whirlpool Dishwasher Run For So Long?

If after the initial wash cycle your Whirlpool dishwasher still has exceptionally longer run times, it could be caused by several factors. These include;

  • Heavily Soiled Dishes
    If your dishes are particularly dirty, the sensors will detect this and run a longer than average wash cycle to clean them.
  • Hard Water
    If you live in an area which has hard water (which is 60% of the UK and 75% of the US), it can lead to a limescale buildup which can restrict the water flow in your dishwasher. This means the dishwasher will take longer to wash and rinse your dishes.
  • Inferior Quality Detergent
    Using cheap, inferior quality dishwasher detergents is a false economy. You will find a good quality detergent cleans your dishes more effectively and the sensors in your Whirlpool dishwasher will detect that extra cleaning power and run faster.
  • Dirty Dishwasher
    The filter on your dishwasher needs cleaning on a regular basis to ensure a smooth run time and optimum cleaning. You should also run a service wash with no dishes once a month to ensure the dishwasher is clean and to remove any dirt or food debris.

If you feel that your Whirlpool dishwasher is taking too long for each cycle, you should time the cycles and compare them to the estimated run times listed in your user manual.

If your dishwasher is taking considerably longer than those times listed, you should contact Whirlpool directly and arrange for a technician to come and inspect your appliance.

How Often Should You Run Your Dishwasher?

The amount of times you use your dishwasher will ultimately depend on the size of your family and how many dirty dishes you generate. However, to keep the appliance running as it should, you should use your dishwasher at least once a week.

Of course if you fill your dishwasher with dirty dishes every day, it’s fine to use it every day. If you only need to use it twice or three times per week, we would recommend running a pre wash or a soak & clean cycle to loosen any dried on stains.

SEE ALSO: How To Clean The Filter On An Old Whirlpool Dishwasher

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a normal wash cycle take on a Whirlpool dishwasher?

The normal wash cycle on a Whirlpool dishwasher takes anywhere between 1 ½ to 4 hours depending on water temperature and dirt levels.

What is the eco mode on a Whirlpool dishwasher?

The eco mode on a Whirlpool dishwasher is a cycle that uses a lower wash and rinse temperature and less energy but can take longer than regular cycles.

What is the quickest wash on a Whirlpool dishwasher?

The quickest wash cycle on a Whirlpool dishwasher is the quick wash cycle. Sometimes referred to as the 1 hour wash, the quick wash takes anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *