How to drain a washing machine

White washing machine with bottles of detergent on the floor next to it.
(Image credit: Getty)

Need to learn how to drain a washing machine so that you can diagnose a problem with your appliance? Whether it’s a long-running issue that you need to fix or a teething problem with a new machine, knowing how to stop the water flow in order to get in there for fixes is an invaluable skill and relatively easy to do. The upside? You’ll avoid a mess of water and get to the resolution you want more quickly. 

Even the best washing machines can run into problems sometimes, so if your machine has given up mid-cycle, then your first problem is getting rid of all of that sitting water. Below, we will discuss exactly how to do that without needing to call in an expert to save you money. Remember that each washing machine may differ, especially if your model is a little older, so be sure to check your specific manual before you dive in.

Signs you need to drain your washing machine  

The first sign of trouble for many people will be an error code flashing up on their washers as they try to start a cycle. Common problems in this case are that your machine is taking on too much or too little water; the latter could even be a sign of a blockage that needs to be cleared. 

What the expert says...

Dr. Beckmann spokesperson Susan Fermor says: “Error messages, loud noises, and pooling water are all signs that your washing machine may need to be drained. If you think your washing machine has drainage issues, the first thing to do is reset the spin cycle. Often, it’s a temporary clog that can be resolved simply by resetting your machine."

Another tell-tale sign will be a pool of water leaking from the door of your machine, which could be a sign of overflowing.

In a similar way, if you notice that your machine is not adequately draining at the end of a cycle - in other words, if there’s a level of water still showing as you look through the window of your machine, then there could be underlying issues that you need to fix by draining. How your machine sounds can also play an important role - if those usual gurgling noises are going on for longer or sounding more severe than usual, there could be an issue that needs to be diagnosed.

Though it’s less common, you may also experience other drains in your home overflowing as a result of issues with your washer - a sure sign that routinely draining your machine may be a smart move.

How often should you drain a washing machine?

While you should clean your washer every 30 washes or so, that tends to apply to cleaning the drum and the internal parts rather than pulling out your machine and draining it. If you’re struggling with damp and humidity problems, then the frequency with which you’ll want to drain your machine will most likely increase. That’s doubly true in the summer months if you live in a state with a hotter climate, where bad smells and issues with your washer may start to arise more frequently.

Stick to cleaning your washer every month and explore draining and checking your draining system once every three months as a general rule. 

Dr Beckmann spokesperson Susan Fermor recommends, “It’s important to make sure your washing machine gets cleaned regularly, as debris can build up, leading to blockage. We recommend deep cleaning your machine every two months or every 30 washes to reduce the risk of a build-up; regular maintenance of your machine can help prolong and protect the lifespan of your appliance."

How to drain a washing machine  

Be sure to have help on hand if you’re not confident moving your washer on your own, and be sure to have a bucket and a towel on hand as you deal with sitting water inside the machine and as you turn your water supply on and off. 

1. Turn off your power and water 

It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s the most important step - turn off the power to your machine and check it’s properly been stopped. You can also turn the water off if you’re dealing with a lot of sitting water in the machine to prevent even more water from getting stuck in there. 

2. Get to the back of your machine

After unplugging, if you need to, pull out your machine into a space so that you have a better view of the mechanisms at the back. Then, get to grips with the hoses you’re working with; there should be one hose (the water hose) that delivers water for your cycle and another (the drain hose) that takes it away. 

3. Disconnect the drain hose 

The problem with your drainage might be the hose itself or a blockage inside. To diagnose the root cause, disconnect the hose, but be very careful as you do so, and have your bucket ready to catch the water as it feeds through the hose as you tip it downward. 

4. Assess the hose and check for blockages 

There might be an obvious problem that’s preventing drainage, such as a blockage or your hose not being screwed on correctly. If you find a blockage, be sure to clear it, and also assess whether your drainage hose is still in good shape or if you need a new one. If your machine uses a filter alongside the drainage hose, then be sure to clean your filter, too, where build-up could be causing troublesome issues.

5. Reconnect your hose and turn back on the power and water supply

If you’ve successfully solved your drainage issue, then all you need to do is connect your machine back up to power and water. However, if you’re still running into problems, then be sure to check your water supply is properly engaged and consider calling in a professional for a better prognosis of your machine’s problems.

Molly Cleary

Molly is the Staff Writer for the Home Section at Top Ten Reviews, joining the team after finishing college. When she's not writing she enjoys baking and embroidery, as well as getting stuck into a good book. She now enjoys writing about kitchen appliances, gardening tools, and will even dip her toe into writing about fridges and ovens.

With contributions from