Laundry Drown: A Guide to Fixing a Washing Machine Not Draining

The pitter-patter of a washing machine during its spin cycle is a familiar sound in most households. But what happens when that comforting rhythm is replaced by a gurgling silence, and your clothes remain stubbornly submerged? 

A washing machine not draining can be a frustrating experience, leaving you with a soggy mess and a headache.

Fear not, fellow laundry warriors! This comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge and tools to diagnose and potentially fix a common culprit behind this drainage dilemma.

Understanding the Drainage Process: From Sudsy to Spin-Ready

Before diving into troubleshooting, let’s take a quick spin (pun intended) through the typical drainage cycle:

Wash Cycle Completion: 

Once the wash cycle finishes, the washer needs to expel the soapy water before it can begin the spin cycle.

Drain Pump Activation: 

The drain pump, an electric motor, kicks in, forcing water through a drain hose located at the back of the machine.

Water Exit: 

The expelled water travels through the drain hose and exits into your home’s plumbing system, typically connecting to a standpipe or drainpipe.

If any element in this process malfunctions, your washing machine might not drain properly.

Diagnosing the Drainage Block: Sherlock Holmes of Sudsy Situations

Now, let’s get down to business! Here are the most common reasons behind a non-draining washing machine and how to diagnose them:

Clogged Drain Hose: 

This is the most frequent culprit. Imagine your clothes shedding and those tiny fibers accumulating over time, creating a dam within the hose.


Locate the drain hose at the back of the washer. Disconnect it from the machine (place a shallow pan underneath to catch any spills) and check for visible blockages. You can also try running some warm water through the hose to see if it flows freely.

Clogged Drain Filter: 

Most washing machines have a drain filter, a small mesh trap that catches debris like coins, buttons, and other laundry escapees.


Consult your washing machine’s manual to locate the drain filter, typically situated near the bottom front of the machine. Unscrew or unclip the filter and remove any accumulated debris. Be prepared for some water to spill out, so have towels handy.

Faulty Drain Pump:  

If the drain hose and filter are clear, the issue might lie with the drain pump itself. This electric motor could be malfunctioning due to wear and tear, electrical issues, or foreign objects lodged within it.


Unfortunately, diagnosing a faulty drain pump usually requires a multimeter or disassembling the machine to visually inspect the pump. If you’re not comfortable with electrical work or disassembling appliances, it’s best to call a professional repair technician.

Kinked Drain Hose:  

A kinked drain hose can impede water flow.


Inspect the drain hose for any sharp bends or twists that might be restricting water flow. Ensure the hose isn’t crushed by other appliances or furniture.

Leveling Issues:  

An unevenly leveled washing machine can sometimes cause drainage problems.


Use a level to check if your washing machine is sitting level on the floor. Most machines have adjustable feet that allow you to fine-tune their positioning.

Bonus Tip:  

Before embarking on your troubleshooting journey, check if your washing machine has a specific error code displayed.  Many modern machines have built-in diagnostics that can provide clues about the source of the problem. Consult your user manual to decipher any error codes.

Taking Action: DIY Fixes or Calling in the Cavalry?

The good news is that some drainage issues can be tackled by a determined do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiast. Here’s a breakdown of the fix-it approach for the most common problems:

Clogged Drain Hose and Filter:  

If you find a blockage in the drain hose or filter, simply remove the debris and reconnect the hose. Run a rinse cycle with an empty machine to ensure everything is flowing smoothly.

Kinked Drain Hose:  

Straighten out any kinks in the hose and ensure it has enough slack to prevent future kinks.

Leveling Issues:  Adjust the washing machine’s feet until it sits level on the floor.

However, if you suspect a faulty drain pump or are uncomfortable with any of the troubleshooting steps, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and call a qualified appliance repair technician. They have the expertise and tools to diagnose and fix the issue efficiently, potentially saving you time and frustration in the long run.


Q: My washing machine won’t drain at all. What could be wrong?

There are several culprits: clogged drain hose, blocked drain pump filter, faulty drain pump, or a problem with the water level control switch.

Q: My washer drains slowly. Is this a major issue?

Slow draining could indicate a partial clog or a kink in the drain hose. It’s best to address it before it becomes a full blockage.

Q: How can I tell if the drain pump is clogged?

If your washer makes unusual humming noises during the draining cycle, it might be a clogged pump.

Q: What are some signs of a faulty water level control switch?

In rare cases, a malfunctioning switch might prevent the washer from entering the draining cycle. Inconsistent water levels during washing can also be a clue.

Q: Where is the drain pump filter, and how do I clean it?

Consult your washing machine’s manual for the exact location of the filter. It’s typically near the bottom front or back of the washer. You can usually remove it by hand and clean it with warm water.

Q: Should I call a professional if I suspect a drain pump issue?

If you’re uncomfortable dealing with the drain pump itself, or if cleaning the filter doesn’t solve the problem, calling a professional appliance repair person is recommended.

Q: How can I prevent future clogs in my washing machine?

Empty your pockets before washing clothes to avoid loose change, tissues, or other debris entering the drain.

Q: Are there any cleaning products I can use to prevent clogs?

Consider using a washing machine cleaner every few months to remove any buildup in the drain system.

Q: When is it best to call a professional for help?

If you’re not comfortable troubleshooting yourself, or if the problem persists after trying basic solutions, it’s best to call a repair person.

Q: What information should I have ready when I call a repair person?

Knowing the make and model of your washing machine, along with a detailed description of the problem, will help the repair person diagnose the issue efficiently.

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