How to Unclog a Washing Machine Drain

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When you have a clog in your washing machine drain, it can be more than just a nuisance that prevents you from getting laundry done. Unfortunately, this sort of clog can cause water to back up into the hose or the machine itself, which can create quite a mess. With a bit of troubleshooting, it's sometimes possible to determine the cause of a clog and subsequently remove it. In other instances, it might be necessary to call a plumber.

How to Unclog a Washing Machine Drain
Image Credit: Kerkez/iStock/GettyImages

Before You Begin

If your washing machine drain is clogged, you should turn the water supply to the appliance off before you attempt any repairs. In addition, unplug the machine. If water is backing up through the hose, it could cause a dangerous situation if water is able to reach the power cord or exposed outlet. In fact, if you're able to, switch the power to the area off at the breaker.

If you have clothing in the washing machine, remove it and wring it out. It may not yet be fully clean, so putting it in the dryer isn't ideal. Hang the clothes on a rack, if at all possible, and put a tub or bucket beneath to catch any dripping water.

You may also need to bail the water out of the washing machine. This can be quite a time-consuming task, especially if you have a top-loading appliance with a narrow top. Use as large a cup or bucket as you can fit into the machine to scoop the water out and dump it outside or down a drain.

Clogged Washing Machine Drain Fixes

If your washer drain pipe overflows or the drain is clogged, you'll need to determine where the clog is coming from before you can attempt a repair. Try to identify the water pump on the machine. This is usually located on the rear of the appliance. Sometimes, it may be exposed, but in other cases, it will be located behind a panel that needs to be removed.

Examine the water pump to see if it has any blockages. You might be surprised to learn that even small articles of clothing can get stuck in this part of the machine and cause a backup. If you don't see anything that could be causing water to build up, however, the clog is likely located elsewhere.

Place another bucket or tub underneath the hose inputs to your washer. Remove the metal clamps that hold the hoses in place and pull the hoses away from the machine. Water will flow out into the bucket. However, the flow of water should soon stop, provided you turned the supply off in the correct location. Then, remove the hose from the supply faucet.

Look inside the hoses to see if there's a clog in either. You may wish to take them outside and use a garden hose to pour water through. If it comes through the other side with no issue, the clog is likely located elsewhere.

When the Clog is Elsewhere

If you still haven't found the clog, it's most likely located elsewhere in your plumbing. It's possible that there's a buildup of some kind in the drain that leads away from the washing machine or further back in the supply pipe. In this case, you can attempt to snake the pipe yourself. Take care using liquid plumbing agents, since the chemicals can then easily get into your laundry. If you're unable to resolve the issue by snaking the drain, you might wish to call a plumber for assistance.


Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity (

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