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Your Washing Machine Has a Secret Drain Trap That Needs to Be Cleaned Out If You Want It to Work Properly


If you’re a busy mom with lots of clothes to wash, you need to know how to clean a washing machine drain. “Wait, but I’ve never done that before — why should I start now?” you might say to yourself. Well, ask yourself these questions: Do you have a washing machine that won’t drain? Are you frustrated because your clothes are still wet after the spin cycle is over? Does your washing machine shake violently during its spin cycle? These could all be signs that your washing machine drain is clogged.

Most people know about the lint filter in the dryer that needs to be cleaned once the cycle is finished. But many don’t know that washing machines have a similar part: the drain trap. If your washer is displaying any of the aforementioned symptoms plus more — a long spin cycle, soaking wet clothes, excessive shaking, a locked door once the spin cycle is finished, or random pauses during the cycle — you may just need to give the drain trap a good cleaning for your appliance to run like new.

How to Clean a Washing Machine Drain

Raise your hand if you’ve ever forgotten to empty out your clothes’ pockets before tossing them into the laundry machine. Is your hand up? Well, you’re definitely not alone! Those bobby pins, coins, keys, and jewelry can break free from their fabric prison during a spin cycle and get sucked into the drain. Over time, the drain will get clogged with these items as well as lint, leading to performance issues. But don’t run out and spend thousands of dollars on a new washing machine. Here’s how to clean a washing machine drain with ease.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is read your washing machine’s owner manual. If you’ve misplaced the instructions, you can probably find a PDF online. The worst-case scenario would be that you need to call your handyman. Fortunately, whatever money you pay him will likely be far less than what you would spend on a new washing machine.

How to Clean a Front-Loading Washing Machine Drain

  1. Before you start draining anything, you’ll want to grab a shallow a bucket to collect the water that may still be in the machine’s drain.
  2. If your drain trap is behind a panel on the front of your washer, simply remove the lid (on some washers you can twist it off like a gas cap).
  3. Let the water drain out into your bucket and slide out the tray.
  4. Then, remove the debris that you find.

If you’re having trouble picturing this, watch the video below to see how to clean a front-load washing machine filter.

How to Clean a Top-Loading Washing Machine Drain

The nice thing about top-load washing machines is that after a load, you can normally just grab anything that’s fallen out of your pockets during the wash from the bottom of the machine. But for items that get sucked into the filter, you’ll need to to get your hands dirty.

Again, now is the time to consult the owner’s manual to determine where the filter is. On some machines the filter is housed within the agitator in the middle, while on other makes, the filter is on the side of the tub, within the machine.

If your filter is inside the agitator, there should be a sort of “lid” you’ll need to remove. Sometimes this is the fabric softener dispenser. In this case, stick your hand down the agitator, grab the filter by hand, and remove the lint. Other times, you’ll have to remove the entire center of the agitator. Again, disconnect the actual filter and clean it out. Now would also be good time to give the filter a good cleaning if you haven’t done that in awhile. Watch the video below to learn how to clean a top-load washing machine filter.

Now that you’ve given your washing machine drains a good cleaning, you may find that your washer runs smoothly again. If so, give yourself a pat on the back. For those who are still having issues with their washing machine’s performance, the problem may not actually be related to the filter. Your next step would be to consult a repairman and see what your options are.

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