How to Unclog a Washing Machine Drain

Hoses and pipes coming out of the back of a washer.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Hot water
Straightened metal coat hanger
Water source
Chemical cleaner

Grime and buildup can clog a washing machine drain if left alone long enough, making it hard to get your clothes cleaned properly. However, you can save a little cash and take care of a clog yourself with the right advice and the right tools. Just make sure the drain pipe itself is the problem with your washer to avoid extra work in the long run.

Step 1 - Prepare

The first thing you should do is to locate the metallic cylinder that connects the pipe or hose to the washing machine; this is generally located at the back of the washer. Keep in mind that you will probably have three pipes or hoses attached to the machine, so choose the correct one.

Now, get the pliers, place them over the cylinder, and turn them counter clockwise to loosen it. Once you start exerting force on the pliers, the pipe or hose should come loose and you will be able to remove it from the washing machine by pulling it out without any trouble.

Step 2 - Locate the Clog

Turn the pipe towards the light and look inside to find the obstruction. If you have trouble seeing it, feel free to shine a flashlight inside for a better look. Once located, pour hot water into the pipe and onto the clogged area. This will help soften any solid matter for easier removal.

Step 3 - Remove the Debris

Now, take a wire coat hanger, straighten it out, and slide it down the pipe. It should be long enough to reach through just about any length of drain. Once the hanger is inserted, wiggle it inside to loosen the mass of debris. Keep on moving the wire until the clog has loosened its hold and is pushed out.

Step 4 - Clean the Pipe

After dislodging whatever is stopping up the drain, you can connect the pipe or hose to a water source to rinse it and check that the clog is cleared up. If water flows easily, then you are done, but if the water is pushed back out, it means that there is still something blocking the pipe. If this is the case, remove the water source and repeat steps two and three as necessary. Check your work at any time by putting water through the drain again.

Step 5 - Try Chemicals

If your coat hanger still proves ineffective at getting rid of the debris lodged inside the drain, you can use a chemical cleaner. Make sure that once you pour it in you let it seep through for at least 10 minutes. This might soften the clog enough to finally work it free.

Step 6 - Finish Up

Once you're sure that the obstruction is gone, you are ready to reattach the pipe or hose to the washer. All you have to do is place the hose to the metallic cylinder and turn it clockwise with your pliers to attach it.

These basic steps will solve most clogged drains, but if you still have water overflowing when using your washing machine, it may indicate another clog further down in the sewers. In this case, it's time to call in a professional for help.