Is 30 Minutes Really Enough Time To Wash Your Clothes? Our Laundry Expert Weighs In

You've probably seen tips that make laundry day more enjoyable and that can help you keep your clothes smelling fresher. But when it comes to tips for making doing the wash go faster, you may have some hesitation about using them. Faster washing and drying certainly could make doing this chore better. However, can you actually get your clothes clean in 30 minutes or less while using the washing machine? After all, a normal cleaning cycle runs 50 minutes to an hour, and heavy-duty cycles can run 2 hours or more. So does a sub-30-minute quick wash cycle truly give you the same level of cleanliness you receive from those longer wash times?

We decided to ask an expert to receive a trustworthy answer to this question. Zachary Pozniak, co-owner of Jeeves NY, spoke exclusively to House Blog on this issue. We asked him point blank: Is 30 minutes really enough time to wash your clothes? "Kind of, but not really," Pozniak says. "You should not expect your soiled clothing to be stain free after such a short cycle."

So, what are some of the situations that dictate whether using the short cycle on the washing machine is a good idea? We asked our expert for some advice on this as well. He says that the answer really depends on the soil level of the clothing as well as the type and amount of clothing.

When is the ideal time to use a short cycle on the washing machine?

When you have lightly soiled laundry items that simply need a quick freshening up to make them wearable again, a quick wash cycle that lasts 30 minutes or less should be fine. A smaller load of laundry probably will have a better chance of getting completely clean on the 30-minute cycle as well. However, if you have a greater level of soil on the clothing, the quick cycle probably isn't going to get everything perfectly clean.

"Odds are if you only have 30 minutes to wash clothing, you're using an express cycle on a machine," Pozniak told House Blog in an exclusive interview. "This cycle shortens every part of the cleaning cycle and should only be used for 'refresh' loads, or clothing that is barely dirty." Because the quick cycle shortens each step in the process, it's understandable that heavier soiled clothing may not receive a full cleaning.

Certainly, a quick wash setting is going to save water when doing laundry and use less energy than the standard washing process, which is one way to save money when doing laundry, making the 30-minute option especially appealing. But Pozniak says you just need to be careful about when you choose to use it.

Why the amount and type of clothing in the load affects the wash cycle time

Pozniak says that the type, amount, and weight of the clothing in the load of laundry that you're doing plays a role in whether the quick cycle will give you the cleanliness level that you are seeking. Smaller loads with lightweight fabrics are going to have a far better chance at becoming completely clean in the quick cycle than heavier loads. "Clothing is a very broad term," Pozniak told House Blog in an exclusive interview. "If you are washing jeans, then 30 minutes is not even remotely close to enough time. If you are washing a barely soiled workout top, then it should be fine."

One washing machine manufacturer, Bosch, provides weight guidelines for the load of laundry that you want to do with its quick cycles. For the 15-minute cycle, Bosch recommends no more than 4.4 pounds of laundry. For the 30-minute cycle, Bosch says you should have 7.7 pounds or less of laundry in the load. The manufacturer also recommends only using clothing with light soils or consisting of cotton and similar easy-care fabrics for its quick cycles.

Additionally, if you are washing clothing where you want to fully sanitize it, washing machine manufacturer Whirlpool recommends using a sanitize cycle, which requires at least 90 minutes. You aren't going to be able to achieve this same level of sanitization in a 30-minute load.