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How to Drain a Washing Machine Manually

Uh-oh. Did we hear you sigh loudly and ask, “Why won’t my washing machine drain?” Well, you’ve come to the right place for answers.

Whether your machine isn’t draining because of a lint clog, a kink in the drain hose, or a rogue sock in the drain pump, we’ll teach you how to manually drain a washing machine safely, and without making a mess.

Supplies Needed for Manually Draining a Washing Machine

  • Bucket (preferably five-gallon)
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Plumber’s snake
  • Screwdriver
  • Towels
  • Shallow container, like a baking dish (for front-loading machines only)
  • Owner’s manual (optional, but helpful)

How to Manually Drain a Top-Loading Washing Machine

Before you start trying to drain a top-loading washing machine, make sure the lid is securely closed. Top-loading washing machines will only drain and spin if the lid is completely closed (and oftentimes, the lid will also lock). That said, a defective lid switch could be the problem. Try pressing the lid down firmly and see if it kick-starts the draining.

If not, follow these steps:

Step 1: Turn off the power and lay down towels

For safety, unplug the machine. If it is hard-wired into your electrical system, switch off the appropriate circuit breaker. This will eliminate the risk of electric shock. Place towels around the washing machine just in case there’s a spill.

Step 2: Locate the drain hose at the back of the washing machine

Pull the washer away from the wall to give yourself more space. There are typically three hoses in the back of the machine, and they are generally color-coded: red for hot water, blue for cold water; the drain hose is usually gray. You may want to turn off the water supply to the hot and cold hoses as an extra precaution. Then, disconnect the drain hose from the pipe and hold it above the washing machine, so water doesn’t spill out.

Step 3: Drain the water

Grab your bucket and carefully lower the drain hose into it and let gravity do the work. Once the bucket is full, reconnect the drain hose back to the pipe so you can discard water into a sink or basin. Repeat until the drum is emptied.

How to Manually Drain a Front-loading Washing Machine

Step 1: Turn off the power and lay down towels

For safety, unplug the machine. If it’s hard-wired into your electrical system, switch off the appropriate circuit breaker to eliminate the risk of electric shock. Lay towels around the washing machine in case there’s a spill.

Step 2: Locate the drain hose

Front-load washers will either have a single drainpipe filter or a drainpipe filter and a separate drain hose. Either way, you can usually access it behind the panel on the bottom, front of your machine. Check the owner’s manual to see how you should open the panel. Some machines require a screwdriver to perform this task.

Step 3: Drain the water

If you have a drain pump filter only, place the shallow container up against the machine, directly under the filter, to catch the water. Turn the knob slowly until water starts coming out. Fill the container, turn the knob off, dump the water into a sink or basin, and repeat until the water has been drained completely.

If you have a drain pump filter and tube, unclip the drain tube and unscrew the end cap when you’re ready to release the water. Replace the cap when you’ve drained all the water, and clip the hose back in place.

Step 4: Scrub the filter

Remove any visible debris from the filter. Rinse with warm water and lightly scrub the filter with a soft-bristled brush or your hand.

What’s Causing the Draining Problem?

Once you have drained the machine, investigate the usual suspects that could have caused the problem:

  • Drain hose clog: If the water didn’t rush out of the hose when you lowered it into the bucket, there is most likely a clog. Use the plumber’s snake to remove the blockage.
  • Drain pump clog: This obstruction can be a little trickier to remove. Check your owner’s manual to see how to access the drain pump. The drain pump is typically located behind a removable panel either in the front or back of the machine. Clear out any clogs with your needle-nose pliers.
  • Make sure you’re using the correct amount of detergent to reduce buildup.

Need Professional Help? Contact Mr. Rooter

If you’re unable to resolve the issue, give Mr. Rooter® Plumbing a call at (855) 591-0128. Let your local plumbing experts take a look at your washing machine plumbing and get your laundry room back on track.