Why do laundry cycles take longer in Europe than North America?

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A normal wash in Europe / UK seems to take > 2.5 hours whereas in North America its ~ 40 minutes. What factors are contributing to this difference?

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The only thing I can think of is that when washing machines started to become more eco-friendly (using less fresh water, spending less electricity) about 20 years ago, they also started to require comparably very long washing programs.

Maybe…uh…the green wave is not with you yet?

Uk and Europe tend to use front loaders which are more water efficient than top loaders, but because there is less water in it it often takes longer to do a cycle. Actually though, most front loaders I’ve seen have shorter cycle settings on them. My machine (UK) has 30 and 60 min settings

EU regulates how energy efficient different home appliances are allowed to be. So the appliances sold in Europe have to be optimized for low power consumption rather then speed. So they wash on lower temperatures, spends more time just soaking the clothes, reuse the same water for longer and so on. All of this does save power but also means it takes longer to wash your clothes. However some machines does have a quick mode intended for special cases where you are in a hurry. It may not be as fast as the US models due to design factors but it can take considerably shorter time. Similarly the models with an Eco mode may take a very long time to complete.