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When we bought our house, all of the existing appliances were included in the sale. At that time, we didn’t have any children, so we were only doing about two loads of laundry per week, and the old machine was meeting our needs nicely. While I wouldn’t have chosen the frontloading washer and dryer set myself, they did what they were supposed to, so I didn’t give it much thought.

How to Clean Your Washing Machine Drain

(Pixabay / stevepb)

After about two months of living there, however, the washing machine started leaking out the front, shaking violently during the spin cycle, and not draining completely. Worse yet, it would pause in the middle of a cycle with a locked door, and you couldn’t do anything about it other than reach around to the back of the machine and unplug it. After some research, we found out that washing machines have a drain that can get clogged just like other drains around your house. When your washing machine drain gets clogged, however, it can cause some pretty significant problems with your washing machine, not the least of which is an ineffective and long spin cycle (wasted energy), uneven loads, and paused cycles that you can’t restart or finish.

When we cleaned out the drain, we found a whole treasure trove of goodies: coins, bobby pins, lint, a necklace, children’s socks (remember, we didn’t have any kids…), clumps of hair, waterlogged receipts—you name it. No wonder our machine was leaking water all over the floor and leaving us with sopping wet clothes even after a second spin cycle!

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, the good news is that cleaning out the washing machine drain is a pretty straightforward process. You should be able to do it yourself, but if you are having difficulty, hiring a plumber is still a lot less expensive than buying a new washing machine.

Front-loader Drain Filter

Front-loader washing machines are a lot easier to clean out than top-loader washing machines, but they also run into more drain filter problems overall. To clean out the drain in your top loader, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Find the washing machine’s drain cover. You may have to remove a front cover plate in order to see the drain cover, but if you can’t find it, the best place to consult is your washing machine owner’s manual.
  2. Get a large bowl or bucket and position it under the drain cover. When you open that drain, a lot of dirty water will most likely spill out, and you need something to catch it, otherwise it will end up all over your floor.
  3. Remove the drain and collect all of the water. Pull out the drain filter and remove all of the gunk.
  4. Replace the drain filter and cover and reposition the front cover plate.

Top-loader Drain Filter

Most of the time, top-loaders will collect all of the debris at the bottom of the drum, so you can easily scoop it out after switching your clothes over to the dryer. It is possible, however, that some things might find their way into the filter, so you’ll need to locate the filter to remove them.

  1. Consult your owner’s manual to find the drain filter cover. It’s not as easy to find as in front-loaders, but your manual should have a detailed diagram to help you locate it. Keep in mind that it may be inside or outside of the machine.
  2. Remove the filter and wash off the gunk.
  3. Replace the filter cover.

Snake the Drain

If the problem is beyond cleaning the filter, you may have to snake the drain.

  1. Start by disconnecting the drainage hose from the back of your machine. Make sure to have a large bowl or bucket handy because some water will probably spill out.
  2. Run the snake down the drain, making sure to rotate the handle whenever you feel resistance. This action will grab the clog and help to dislodge it. Pull the snake out and remove any debris that you’ve collected.
  3. Pour water into the drain to make sure that you have removed all of the clogs.
  4. Reattach the hose, being sure to clamp the two parts together really well so that there isn’t any leakage.
  5. Pour really hot water into the machine to remove any residual gunk as well as to check for any leaks. You can also run an empty load on hot, but make sure to pay close attention to the connection points so that you don’t have water pouring out onto your laundry room floor.

Cleaning out a clog in your washing machine drain is a fairly simple task, but if you don’t feel confident in your repair abilities or find yourself running into problems, don’t hesitate to call a Utah plumbing company.