All about dishwasher programs

Formerly called a luxury household appliance, today the dishwasher is rarely missing in a kitchen. You place the dirty dishes in the appropriate holders, insert the dishwasher tab and the cleaning begins. In a few hours, the machine finishes its work. You sort sparkling clean plates, cups and glasses back into the cupboard, done. Occupy a moment longer with the household appliance, you will see the different dishwasher programs. What do you use them for, how long do they last? What happens when they do not run? Now you can find the answers to these questions in the following article.

Which dishwasher programs do you need for what?

To ensure that dishes made of different materials come out of the dishwasher germ-free and clean, it offers several dishwasher programs.

Normal program

The name reveals that the normal program used to be the standard program of the dishwasher under £300. In modern appliances, you will rarely find it. It washes plates, glasses and cutlery at 60 to 65 degrees Celsius and thus removes common soiling. Likewise, it easily removes slightly dried food residues. If you find the designation Standard program on your dishwasher, this is not the same as the Normal program. It refers to the wash cycle that the manufacturer defines as standard. What matters here is low consumption for the corresponding dishwasher model.

Intensive programs

Intensive programs provide intensive cleaning, removing stubborn dirt. To remove starchy food residues, the machine heats the water to 65 to 75 degrees Celsius.

Eco program

The Eco or environmental program is also called the economy program. The actual cleaning is preceded by a long soaking time, so the program lasts up to three hours. In this way, the dishwasher saves energy and water, which can be worthwhile for the environment and your household costs. The washing temperature varies between 45 and 55 degrees Celsius.

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Automatic and fast programs

Automatic programs use advanced processes when washing dishes. Sensors control the load weight as well as the clouding of the rinse water.

A built-in microchip evaluates the data and adjusts the following factors:

  • Dishwasher program
  • Running time
  • Water temperature
  • Water volume

As a rule, it washes significantly faster than the economy program.

The winner in terms of speed are the quick or short programs. On some machines you can find them under the name TurboSpeed. The setting is suitable for situations when you need the clean dishes quickly. The quick cleaning does not bring any cost savings. Moreover, primarily porcelain and ceramic utensils come out of the dishwasher wet.

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Additional programs

In addition to the standard dishwashing programs, some manufacturers offer special additional programs. These programs have different names, such as hand rinse, delicate or sensitive program. They are mainly used for fine glasses or plastics. The water temperature measures 40 to 45 degrees Celsius. There are also programs for intensive disinfection. In this hygiene setting, the water remains heated up to 75 degrees Celsius for ten minutes. The additional function thus eliminates germs and bacteria.

Normal programRinses at 60° to 65° Celsius
Intensive programRinses at 65° to 75° Celsius
Eco programLonger soak time and then rinses at 45° to 55° Celsius
Automatic programsAdaptation to the respective factors
Quick or short programsSaves time
Additional programsFor special conditions such as hand rinse, sensitive or disinfection.

How long do dishwasher programs run?

You are in a hurry and need the clean dishes quickly? The short program takes a maximum of 30 minutes. With some manufacturers, it even takes only a quarter of an hour. The automatic program runs between 40 minutes and two and a half hours. The exact running time depends on the degree of soiling of the dishes and the individual load quantity. If you choose the gentle program, you’ll hold the clean dishes in your hands for up to 1.5 hours after 55 minutes. With the normal program, washing takes an hour and 45 minutes. With some dishwashers under £500, you wait up to two hours.

The intensive program takes even longer, as it cleans stubborn dirt. The minimum running time is two hours. Normally, the program duration varies between two and a half and three hours. You wait the longest for clean plates and cups with the Eco program. It takes between three and five hours to clean them, with soaking taking the most time.

ProgramRinsing time
Normal programapprox. 105 – 120 min
Short programapprox. 15 – 30 min
Automatic programapprox. 40 – 150 min
Gentle programapprox. 55 min – 90 min
Intensive programapprox. 120 – 180 min
Eco programapprox. 180 – 300 min

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Which rinsing program is suitable for which purpose?

Baby bottles

Your offspring is in the infant stage and baby bottles require daily cleaning. The hygiene program is recommended as a suitable rinse cycle. The hot water kills 99% of bacteria and germs. At the same time, the wash cycle is suitable for cutting boards on which you process meat.

Party dishes

At a party, you need a quick supply of dishes. With the short program you can clean plates, coffee cups and glasses within 30 minutes.

Half load

If you can’t get the dishwasher completely full, but start the cleaning program, it’s best to choose one for “half load.” Numerous manufacturers equip their appliances with this practical additional function. With this, you decide, for example, whether the dishwasher washes the upper or lower basket.


If there are a lot of plastic utensils in both baskets, it is worthwhile to use a plastic program in which the material does not deform. Alternatively, use the gentle wash cycle.

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Is it possible to simply cancel rinse programs?

If you open the dishwasher during rinsing, the program usually aborts automatically. This gives you a chance to place a forgotten dish in the basket. If you close the flap, the machine continues to run without a hitch. You don’t have to worry about any problems in case of an occasional interruption of the washing cycle. However, technical difficulties occur when the program regularly malfunctions. For example, the cleaning program hangs up.

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What happens if the program does not run?

Tip: If the dishwasher does not finish the set program, there are various possible causes. A defective temperature sensor causes the water temperature to be too high. For safety reasons, the machine aborts the rinse cycle.

A weak pump performance as well as a technical fault also lead to an incomplete program. In that case, press the reset button and start it again. If the problem occurs again, a call to the manufacturer’s maintenance team will remedy the situation.

David Shaw

David Shaw

Dishwashers expert with over 10 years of experience. He writes articles and shares his knowledge on many sites. Helps you choose the best (portable, countertop, built-in) dishwashers on this site.

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