How Long Does It Actually Take to Empty the Dishwasher?

Emptying the Dishwasher (How Long Does it Really Take) at

When I speak at moms’ groups, I always say: “I have really bad news. Emptying the dishwasher is actually more important than running it.”

It is. And I’m sorry.

Emptying the dishwasher first thing in the morning means I can re-fill it all day with whatever dishes get dirtied.

Re-filling it all day (instead of leaving/piling random things in the sink, on the counters, on the table, etc.) means my heart doesn’t sink (and my foot doesn’t stomp) when it’s time to clean up after dinner and run the dishwasher.

I’ve written about it before, but I have to re-remind myself over and over (and over) that it only takes a few moments to unload it.

Like . . . four.

So today, when I walked into the kitchen after recording a podcast, a whole five minutes before I was supposed to receive a business call (not first thing in the morning), I grabbed my camera and took a picture of the clock and of the dishwasher to prove to myself that it really only does take four (maybe five) minutes to unload that blankety-blank dishwasher.

Started at 9:55.

Ended at 10:00.

It only took me less than 5 minutes to unload the dishwasher at

Or, 9:59 according to the other oven’s clock (that was also at 9:55 when I started).

Not bad.

Oh, and if you don’t have a dishwasher, unloading the drying rack is equally important. When we spend time at the lake (sans dishwasher), unloading the drying rack is the task I most despise, but is also the one that causes the most kitchen-cleaning-backup when left undone.


If dishes overwhelm you, check out my e-book: 28 Days to Hope for Your Home





  1. 1

    This is actually one of the few kitchen tasks I don’t mind doing. Its the refilling I don’t like!

  2. 4

    Isn’t this task what children are for?

  3. 10

    I found that I can empty the dishwasher in the four minutes it takes my tea to brew. It gives me incentive to get it done quickly.

    • 11

      I race the coffee pot in the mornings, and it’s awesome. If I’m out of coffee, I race the kettle and then use the brew time as the few minutes to put the few overnight dishes and tidy up anything I didn’t the night before.

    • 12

      Good plan. Kettle is beside my dishwasher.

  4. 13

    I had to laugh bc I actually not only know that it takes me 4 minutes to empty the dishwasher, but I even wrote a post about my proclivity to time myself doing everything.

    And normally, I would NOT post a link to my blog in your comments (totally annoying self-promotion) but I actually think you might find this funny.

    And please disregard the off-color post title. I got a little carried away that day.

  5. 14

    I had started doing my dishes daily a couple of months before finding your blog, but I wasn’t emptying the dish drainer. Yeah, the dishwasher at my house is named Michelle. ๐Ÿ™‚
    After I started reading your blog, I started putting all the dishes away first thing in the morning. That’s when I noticed that I didn’t have enough space in the cabinet/container for my dishes. So I followed your wonderful advice and got rid of the dishes I wasn’t using.
    What a complete difference it makes in my kitchen to have my dishes all put away and the sink and drainer empty. I have found that I wash up the breakfast and lunch dishes while I’m cooking dinner and then I can clean up the dinner dishes in mere minutes before I go to bed. And all because that drainboard is empty and ready to use.

  6. 16

    I had read your advice over and over again about running the dishwasher at night and unloading first thing in the morning. I was running it at night, but I was always annoyed because I had to empty it first. Then I saw someone talk one time (I think in a comment on your blog???) about how they did it every day while the coffee was brewing. Then I finally “got” how long it really takes. Thank you for your blog and your awesome community!

    I don’t always load as I go, but I do stack like with like in the sink (and load as I go when I feel like it) so that when it comes to the end of the night there is less jostling and rearranging because I can see immediately how many bowls, plates, little cups, big person glasses, etc there are and load efficiently right before bed. It’s what works for me! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 17

      I’m another one that likes to wait until I have a load sitting out before putting it in. Sometimes bowls go up top, sometimes they go on the bottom.

  7. 18

    I have to admit, I only partially follow your advice on running the dishwasher and un-loading it every morning. As a single person, I don’t even fill it halfway in 1 day. So, I run it every 2-3 days (depending on how much I ate out…oops!) but I am doing better about washing the pots and pans and other non-dishwasher items every (ok almost every) evening. Not having a sink full of hand-wash items sure makes washing the dishes much much faster and less deadful… Dishes are the worst household chore in my opinion!

  8. 19
    Faith Rich says:

    empty the dishwasher? I have to wash dishes manually twice a day with half a kitchen! I would love a dishwasher but our kitchen is too small. I find doing the dishes twice a day keeps dirty dishes to a minimum, but now i’m back at work, once at night is enough.

  9. 20

    Emptying the dishwasher was pretty much my only chore growing up and I would wait until I heard my mom pull in the driveway to get it done. One day she tried to used “it only takes 5 minutes” to encourage me and similarly used a timer to prove it as she emptied it. Of course then I thought I scored by getting her to empty the dishwasher ๐Ÿ˜‰ I still despise emptying it, but agree it’s very helpful to keep the kitchen clean when you can put dirty dishes in!

  10. 21

    Good point. If you have it in your mind that a task is only going to take 5 minutes then you’re less reluctant. But just thinking in general about emptying a dishwasher you would think it would take so much longer. Great post.

  11. 22

    After reading this post I got off my bum and timed it. 3 minutes. Then I loaded it with the dirty dishes I had, 2 minutes. Loaded as I used dishes throughout the day. It is full now but I haven’t started it! Going to do that NOW! Maybe….

  12. 23

    That’s the kids job! Actually, my oldest (18yrs) HATES to fill but doesn’t mind unloading… My son (15 yrs) on the other hand, will take 20 mins! He takes ONE thing out at a time…. then has to wonder around the kitchen with it before he actually gets it put away! UGH! He gets a different chore if at all possible! Try to have them do it right after school, haven’t quite figured out mornings well enough to do it before school and work when everyone is in the kitchen getting breakfasts and lunches ready. Although, if we got in the habit of running it every night, hmmmm…

  13. 24
    lydia purple says:

    It’s so strange that our mind is making us play those minimal tasks to seem so huge… when really especially with dishwashers and washing machines all it takes are a few minutes. The machines do the real hard work we just operate them… heck, imagine to wash it all by hand?! I usually also start a load of laundry in the evening (with timer so the done wet laundry doesn’t sit all night in closed washing machine) and it only takes 2 minutes to do that but still i often feel so tired in the evening that it seems so hard to do it… but if i don’t i’m in trouble next day. If i can hang up laundry right after breakfast all is well, but if not, my whole day gets messed up schedule wise or i forget the laundry and it stinks.

  14. 25

    You have said that doing dishes every day helps. And if you don’t there are WAY more if there was only one day. I know how many:TWICE AS MANY!
    I am trying my hardest and have caught up and hope to not slip again. It really does make a difference!

  15. 27

    I wanted to let you know I moved over to wordpress ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. 29

    No, actually it took only about 5-10 minutes to move all my posts..LOL I was glad to rofl.

  17. 30
    Elizabeth B says:

    So funny I saw this post today! I was just thinking this morning ‘How long does this take?’ So while my toast is cooking and water heating for coffee I did it. I was done in the same amount of time my breakfast was! I wish there was a way for the darn plastic stuff to dry in the DW!! Then my life would be complete LOL. After the DW, they sit out to dry until lunch. Then I put them away while lunch gets created. (well, I am a work in progress)
    Thank you so much for your 28 days book!! I am following it this month :).
    When are you going to have another Google Hangout? I found them after you were done and have been looking forward to catching a live one :).

  18. 31

    I was shocked the first time I timed how long it took to unload the dishwasher. I would have guessed a LOT longer. Really? 5 minutes is it??? I checked again, and by golly, five minutes was right. Less if it was filled with bigger stuff. I hate that. Because now I have no excuse.

  19. 32

    I am awful about unloading the dishwasher. My excuse? Whoever remodeled the kitchen put it in the most inconvenient spot in the room. As in all the way across the room. You know – the room that’s forty miles wide and takes about ten whole steps to cross. One of these days I’ll just accept the fact that it’s in the corner and there’s nothing I can do about it. The weird thing is, I don’t mind loading it up. I just hate taking them out.

    Five minutes…

  20. 33

    If only I could get this concept over to my children who drag this task out forever! They are learning. It is taking them less and less time. Dreading it takes more time than actually doing it : )

    Kingdom Life & Blessings

  21. 34

    I have to wait until naptime to empty the dishwasher, my 16 month old assistant has gotten very good at pulling the lower rack off its tracks. We usually load when he’s asleep as well.

    This works for now….hopefully the dishwasher will be less interesting soon. And maybe I can reload his one drawer and cupboard soon too. LOL

  22. 35

    {Melinda} Just found your blog. I am also a recovering slob. Deep down I really want to be organized, but my ADD won’t let me! So refreshing to find a blog about organizing by someone like me. Not someone who was born with the Martha Stewart gene!

    You are so right about the dishwasher. I dread emptying it, but it really does relieve so much clutter and stress throughout the day. Thanks for reminding me that I have no excuse for not unloading it. 4 minutes? Sheesh!

  23. 36

    Wow…that makes so much sense! Im gonna try to beat my coffee maker in the morning. Living with a chronic illness, I have to prioritize tasks to not overdo it. This makes it quick and easy and a habit.


  24. 37
    Suzanne Davis says:

    First, I want to thank you for your column! I can relate to what you write about and I enjoy your writing style. Second, I used to have a more hate than love relationship with the dishwasher. It all started with my grandmother, who wanted the dishes done immediately after dinner. And I would rebel wanting to relax a little by watching a tv show or two before doing the dishes. She would be proud of me now. In my old age I prefer to fill up the dishwasher all day with dirty dishes and to be ready to start the dishwasher right after dinner. Sometimes I unload the dishwasher, and sometimes my sweet mother of 88 does. When the dishwasher doesn’t get unloaded while making the morning coffee, then the dirty dishes pile up and cause valuable sink and counter space be eaten up. And now, Nonnie, I cannot go to bed without having done the dishes. I want more to wake up to a clean kitchen than to let it go until morning. Loading and unloading are demonized in our cluttered minds. Those of us who don’t like to do housework, don’t have an accurate sense of how long specific tasks will take. Setting a stop watch will help us correct our internal sense of timing. When we realize that unloading the dishwasher take no more than 5 minutes, then we have no excuse. And doing so regularly will make a Hugh impact on how clean our kitchen is, even whether or not we cook that day. Cluttered counters encourage one to spend money on fast food, which is expensive and unhealthy.

  25. 38

    I can do mine in 1:10. The time it takes to heat up my coffee in the microwave. ; ) Wanna race?

  26. 40

    This is a task that I hate doing. I’d rather unload then load..and I have no idea why. Ever needed to replace a bottom or top rack of your dishwasher? The bottom rack has a little bit of rust started because one of the tines rusted through. I called Whirlpool to ask the price of replacing the bottom about $184 plus shipping cost for a total of $215.. I have no idea how old the dishwasher is to begin with because previous owner never left any manuals at all to any appliance in this house. We’ve had to go online and pay for manuals. I can buy a new dishwasher almost for that price they went on internet and found about a product called Rerack. purchaed it at Lowe’s but haven’t used it yet. It’ll take me more tan 5 min. because somebody that lives with me will come in the kitchen and want to make his coffee and get in my way..Guess I have to beat him up which I usually do but I use that quiet time to myself because I only sleep 4 hr. a night and that is interrupted by him bumping into the walls enroute to bathroom at least 3 times a night with his walker. Oh well, Such is life! As my next door neighbor used to tell her kids “Suck it up and just do what you were told to do!”

  27. 41

    I have a family of 9. Three of my kids go to school but I babysit so four take there place. I do at least three loads of dishes a day. It takes me 3 min to unload dishes. I feel like dishes and laundry are all I ever do.

    • 42

      Sorry. I do know it’s their not there. It’s 6:30 am and I’ve had 4 hours of sleep. Had a mommy brain moment.

  28. 43

    Normal friend came over a few years ago and put all my dishes together. Now they all have a place and a space and it’s the easiest chore to put dishes away. I love my dishes, they were my grandma’s. My silverware i registered for when i got married. My glass see all mismatched goodwill so when you have a drink you know which glass is yours. Still, I thought it took ten minutes, so I can’t wait to time myself this morning. Also, my boys load it as their nightly chore. They are going on a couple of years and should be experts, so when I’m unloading and run into something done wrong, I stop and let them put the rest away to hello make them more mindful of proper loading. It is really sing on plumber costs to have the dishwasher loaded right!

  29. 44
    Jeanine says:

    I always felt like unloading the dishwasher didn’t really “count” as having accomplished something. I thought the accomplishment was getting the dishes clean. But you’ve repeatedly emphasized it’s importance. Now when I empty the dishwasher, even though it’s fast, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

    Putting away clean clothes used to also feel the same, not like a true chore, since the cleaning of them had already been accomplished. You’ve helped me realize that what I used to see as extra steps added onto the “true” chore, are very important in themselves and “count” as accomplishments.

    I hope that made sense.

  30. 45

    Our kids are about grown and with two in college but still at home and one in high school, the hubs and I have decided it’s time for us to start pitching in when it comes to the kitchen. It’s my least favorite room to clean. So I decided I would time myself unloading the dishwasher to prove to the kids (ok, myself) how quickly it could be done. 3.5 minutes. Dang it. No more excuses that there isn’t time.

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