Why Does The “Eco Wash” Take So Long? (washing machine)

If you own a relatively new washing machine, there’s a good chance that it has an eco wash cycle as one of the wash options. Manufacturers worked hard under considerable pressure to develop these energy saving programmes under various government initiatives.

However, according to a recent survey, the eco wash cycle is only being used in around 5% of all of the wash loads done in the UK. When asked why, most householders agreed that it was because of the amount of time the eco wash cycle runs for.

So why does the eco wash cycle take so long? Keep reading to find out.

What Is The Eco Wash Cycle?

Before we get into why it takes so long, let’s have a brief look into what the eco wash is and how it works. The eco wash cycle has been developed to use as much as 90% less energy than a regular wash cycle.

It does this due to the fact that on a regular wash cycle most of the energy used is to heat the water. Apparently the rotation of the drum only uses around 10% of the total energy on a regular wash cycle with the other 90% used to heat the water.

Now anyone who knows anything at all about washing laundry knows that there are 3 things needed to get clothes clean which are;

  1. Water
  2. Temperature
  3. Time

Eco wash cycles tend to use far cooler water and less water overall than a regular wash cycle. However, in order to clean your laundry, the clothes need to soak in that water for a long while. So your washing machine becomes a large soak box when using the eco wash cycle.

SEE ALSO: What Does Eco Cycle Mean On A Washing Machine?

Why Do Eco Wash Cycles Take So Long?

Cotton Eco Wash Cycle

To get laundry clean, the garments need to be soaked in a water/detergent solution. In a regular wash cycle this tends to happen at a higher temperature which helps soften dirt and stains which then get removed as the water flows through the fabric.

During an eco wash however, the water is cooler which means it takes longer to soften the dirt and stains. If you ever take the time to watch your machine during an eco wash, you’ll soon notice that it spends a lot of time apparently doing nothing.

Those periods of inactivity are actually when the laundry is getting clean. The washing is actually soaking during those long spells which is how dirt and stains are removed at low temperatures during an eco wash.

If you’ve ever had to soak a heavily soiled garment in a water/detergent cold water soak, you’ll know that it takes a long time to remove that stain. The same principle is at work when using the eco wash option.

How Long Is An Eco Wash?

The duration of the eco wash varies from appliance to appliance but ranges from anywhere between 3 ½ to 6 hours with the average being around 4 hours.

There are exceptions to these long soaks, for instance the Samsung Eco Bubble which has an eco wash cycle that runs for around 2 hours which is less time than a standard cotton wash. It does this by using bubbles.

It has a bubble generator under the drum which spreads the bubbles into the drum and they help the water to soak into the laundry. This uses less water as well as less energy and less time.

SEE ALSO: Are Samsung Ecobubble Washing Machines Any Good?

Then there’s the Hotpoint eco-friendly ActiveCare technology which manufacturers claim can remove 100 different stains at just 20°C. If you’re looking to upgrade your washer and would like to know more about all of the various brands and their eco wash options we have written quite a few guides on this subject on our website.

Does The Eco Wash Option Save Money?


Yes, using the eco wash option will save you money. As we already stated, the eco wash cycle can save up to around 90% on energy usage compared to a regular wash cycle.

Added to which, the eco wash typically uses far less water too and with more and more of us being on a water meter nowadays, that can lead to a significant saving as well.

In fact it is estimated that you can save figures of around £50 per year on utility bills by using the eco wash option on your machine.

Is It Good To Always Use The Eco Wash?

You need to check just how stained your garments are before using the eco wash option on your washer. This is because some really ingrained stains need more in the way of heat to remove them first time.

If you wash a heavily soiled garment using the eco wash cycle the chances are the stain will remain. You would then need to run another eco wash cycle to get the item clean. Which would be less environmentally friendly than running a hotter wash.

2 eco wash cycles cost more in both energy and water than one standard hot wash cycle. If saving energy and the environment are your main concerns, think twice before always selecting the eco wash.

Another thing worth mentioning is that you should always try to wash a full load when using your washer. Whether it’s the eco wash or a regular cycle, running 2 half-loads uses more energy than running one full load.

Why Should You Use The Eco Wash Cycle?

There are several reasons why using the eco wash is a good idea. They include;

  • Saves Energy
    Selecting the eco wash option can save as much as 90% in electricity usage.
  • Saves Money
    Using less energy and less water, saves money on utility bills.
  • Saves Clothes
    Washing clothes using high temperatures as well as high agitation can be detrimental to the fabric. Which can lead to clothes not lasting as long as they should. Using the eco wash means less heat and less agitation which means the clothes will look good and last for longer.
  • Helps Save The Environment
    It is estimated that washing machines add 62 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year through energy usage. If you choose the eco wash option, that uses less energy, you are helping to save the environment.

How To Get The Most From Your Eco Wash Cycle

A person putting clothes into a washing machine

If you decide you want to save energy and help to save the environment, here are a few ways to ensure you get the most from using the eco wash cycle.

Don’t Overload The Drum

It’s always tempting to cram as much into the drum as you can especially if you’re facing a 4 hour wash cycle. However, overloading the drum can cause serious damage to the machine and prevent your laundry from getting clean.

Experts agree that the drum on your washer should never be more than ¾ full. This is because an overloaded drum can cause the bearings on the drum to become damaged. As well as the pulleys, motor and drive belt all being put under extra pressure.

Plus the clothes need room to freely move around the drum to rub together and get clean.

Always Use The Best Detergent

When opting for the eco wash cycle it’s important that you use a detergent that is designed to work best under cooler washing temperatures. There are many detergents available nowadays that are specifically designed for use at cooler temperatures.

To get the best from your machine’s eco wash cycle, always use the best detergent for cleaning at cooler temperatures.

Allow Enough Time

As we have seen, eco wash options are typically far longer than regular wash cycles. This means you can’t wash anything using an eco wash that you need in a hurry.

Clothes that you’re likely to need in the next couple of hours should be washed on a quick wash. The eco wash will get your laundry clean (for the most part) but it won’t do it in a hurry.

Should you Use The Eco Wash Cycle On Your Washer?

Only you can decide whether the eco wash is suitable for you, your clothes and your household. All we can do is remind you that the eco wash option will almost certainly save energy, save water, save you money and be better for the environment.

With that said, there are times when an eco wash isn’t suitable, for instance;

  • When You Need To Wash Heavily Soiled Items
    If the clothes you intend to wash are really dirty, the eco wash might not be capable of removing all of the dirt and stains in one go. Remember that putting clothes through 2 eco wash cycles would cost more money and use more energy than using one hot wash.
  • When You Need Clothes Washed In A Hurry
    The eco wash cycle is great for saving energy, saving water and saving money as well as helping to save the environment. But it won’t save time, if you need those clothes in a short time, you’d be better off using the quick wash option.

Having said all of that, most new washing machines have a 30°C or even a 20°C wash cycle. And with the development of modern detergents that are just as effective at these lower temperatures, you might be better off using one of these shorter cycles that also use less energy than a regular cycle.

The Eco Wash Is Not Just For Washing Machines

If you like the idea of using the eco wash cycle on your washer for all of the reasons listed above, you’ll probably be pleased to learn that many dishwashers also feature an eco wash cycle. Often called “eco mode” or “energy saving”, the eco wash on a dishwasher works in much the same way as it does on the washing machine.

During the wash and rinse cycles on the dishwasher in eco mode, the water used is at a lower temperature compared to a regular wash cycle.

SEE ALSO: What Is EcoSilence Drive? (Bosch Washing Machines)

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should an eco wash take?

The eco wash cycle on a washing machine is designed to use less energy, less water and save you money as well as help protect the environment. However, the way this works is by soaking your dirty laundry in the detergent/water mix for long periods in the drum. These eco wash cycles can take anywhere between 3 ½ to 6 hours.

Is eco setting better than quick wash?

Whether the quick wash or the eco setting is better depends on your point of view and what you’re aiming to achieve. The quick wash will take considerably less time to get your laundry clean. However, the eco wash will still typically use less energy over its longer time span than a 30 minute quick wash.

Is it cheaper to use quick wash or eco wash?

Using the eco wash will work out cheaper than using the quick wash even though it takes far longer.

Is a 3 hour eco wash worth it?

If you have the time, an eco wash cycle is great for getting an average wash load clean and saving energy. However, if your clothes are heavily soiled, the low temperatures used in the eco wash might not be sufficient to get your clothes clean.

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