How to Drain a Washer

Draining a washer is an important maintenance task that helps keep your washing machine running smoothly and prevent issues like mold, mildew, and clogs. While the steps may vary slightly depending on your specific washer model, draining a washer properly is something all laundry machine owners should know how to do.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the entire process of draining a washer, from preparing to drain it to finishing up. We’ll also provide tips on preventive maintenance, troubleshooting common draining issues, and when to call in a professional. With these steps, you’ll be able to keep your washer drainage system operating efficiently.

Preparing to Drain the Washer

Before you can drain the washer, you need to do a little prep work. Taking a few minutes to get set up properly will make the process faster and easier.

Gather Your Supplies

You’ll need just a few simple supplies on hand to drain a washer:

  • A drain pan or bucket – This collects any water that may spill out when draining. A large pan or bucket is ideal.
  • Old towels – Place towels around the base of the machine to catch drips or splashes.
  • Gloves – Wear waterproof gloves to protect your hands.
  • A flashlight – This helps you see down into the drain area.

Turn Off Power to the Machine

Make sure to unplug the washer before draining it. You don’t want the machine to turn on accidentally while your hands are wet near the electrical and moving parts.

If your machine doesn’t have an accessible plug, turn off power to the washer at the circuit breaker.

Check the Owner’s Manual

Your specific washer model may have particular steps for draining the machine. Check the owner’s manual for any special instructions.

The manual can also tell you how to access the drain pump filter and hoses on your unit.

Have the Drain Hose Ready

Position the washer’s drain hose so that it can empty directly into your drain pan or bucket. This will control the water flow and prevent splashing.

If your drain hose doesn’t detach easily, have a way to shift the washer to access the permanent drain outlet.

Draining Top Load Washers

Top load washing machines are drained a little differently than front load models. Here are the steps to drain a top loading washer:

Remove Any Remaining Water

Use a small cup to remove any standing water left in the wash tub. Scoop water out until the tub is empty.

Tip Washer Back

Carefully tip the washing machine back to allow the remaining water to flow out.

Place a towel beneath the rim of the washer to catch drips.

Slowly tilt the unit back, watching for water to come pouring out of the drain outlet.

Lower it back down once water stops flowing out.

Drain Through Hose

Place the drain hose into your drain pan or bucket.

Detach the hose if possible and put the end into the drain receptacle.

Spin Cycle

Run a spin cycle to remove any remaining water. Make sure the drain hose empties into your drain pan during the cycle.

Dry Tub Interior

Use a clean towel to wipe out any remaining moisture in the wash tub interior once it’s drained.

Draining Front Load Washers

Front load washing machines require a slightly different process to drain completely. Follow these steps to drain a front load washer:

Remove Excess Water

Bail out any visible standing water using a small cup or bowl. Scoop until the tub appears empty.

Open Drain Hose Cap

Locate the drain hose cap on the front of the machine. Place a towel beneath it to catch drips.

Slowly open the cap so water can start flowing out into a drain pan.

Drain Through Hose

Allow all water to drain out through the hose into a drain receptacle.

Let it empty completely until there’s just a trickle remaining.

Access Drain Pump

The drain pump filter on front load washers needs cleared of debris regularly. When draining the washer, it’s a perfect time to check and clean this.

Your manual will show how to disassemble the drain pump cover and filter. Have towels and a drain pan ready to catch any remaining water.

Follow instructions to remove the filter and clean it thoroughly before replacing it. Drain hoses can also be checked for obstructions.

Dry Interior

Use a clean towel to pat down the wash tub interior once the machine is drained. Allow any moisture to evaporate before running another load.

Draining HE Washers

High-efficiency (HE) washers require a few extra steps when draining compared to traditional models:

Remove Excess Water

Bail out any visible standing water from the wash tub using a small container. Remove as much as possible.

Access Hoses

HE washers have small discharge hoses along the bottom of the unit. Locate these and place them into a drain receptacle.

Slowly detach the hoses if possible to allow water to start draining out.

Empty Pump Filter

Clean out the pump filter according to your owner’s manual instructions. Debris often builds up here.

Place towels beneath the machine to catch water when removing the filter. Rinse and replace the filter once cleared of buildup.

Spin and Dry

Finish up by running a spin cycle if your machine allows it without any water. This helps extract any last moisture before towel drying the wash tub interior.

Draining Portable Washers

Smaller portable and mini washers have simplified steps for drainage:

Wheel Machine to Sink

These small units can be rolled directly to a sink or drain outlet when it’s time to empty water.

Drain Through Hose

Connect the outlet hose to your sink drain or a floor drain. Elevate the hose if possible.

Turn on the pump function or run a spin cycle to use the washer’s force to drain itself.

Bail Remaining Water

Any water left in the tub can be bailed out manually with a small cup or bowl.

Dry Thoroughly

Remove all interior moisture with clean towels once the portable washer is empty.

Leave the lid open after draining to allow the drum to air dry completely.

Preventing Draining Problems

Taking steps to maintain your washer’s drainage system will prevent most common draining issues:

  • Clean the pump filter – Regularly check and rinse the drain pump filter per your manual’s directions. Debris buildup here can impede proper drainage.
  • Inspect hoses – Check all washer hoses periodically for cracks and leaks. Replace damaged hoses right away to avoid drainage issues.
  • Use drain receptacle – Always drain washed loads into a sink or drain pipe, never directly onto the floor. This can lead to water damage over time.
  • Level the machine – An unbalanced washer may not drain properly. Use a level to ensure it sits evenly. Adjust legs as needed.
  • Limit lint buildup – Excess lint accumulating in the machine can clog drains. Use lint collectors in the drum and when draining.
  • Clean with affresh – Monthly cleaning tablets help remove residue that causes odors and clogging. Run a cycle with a tablet to freshen the interior.

Troubleshooting Draining Problems

If you notice your washer not draining well, there are a few quick troubleshooting steps to try:

Draining Slowly:

  • Check for kinks in any drain hoses. Hoses should have smooth bends.
  • Examine the drain hose and pump filter for obstructions. Remove built up debris.
  • Use a plumber’s snake to clear clogs from the drain line.

Backing Up:

  • Verify the drain hose is still routed properly, without sagging or rises.
  • Clean the pump filter thoroughly. Chunks can get lodged and prevent drainage.
  • Remove the hose at the outlet to check for jams. Clear any lint or buildup.


  • Inspect all hoses and seals for cracks or splits. Replace any deteriorated drain hoses.
  • Check that hose clamps are tight. Tighten as needed to stop leakage.
  • Examine the pump filter housing for cracks. A damaged filter can leak.

Won’t Drain:

  • Make sure the power cord is plugged in securely and outlet is functioning.
  • Check for tripped breakers or blown fuses related to the washer.
  • Press start after selecting the drain cycle. Timer or controller issues may not cue the drain.
  • Test the pump motor. If faulty, contact a technician for diagnosis and repair.

If basic steps don’t resolve drainage problems, contact an appliance repair professional to service your washer.

When to Call a Professional

In some cases, it’s best to have an experienced appliance technician handle washer drainage issues:

  • If the pump motor fails, replacement parts and special disassembly tools are required.
  • For chronic slow draining, a full diagnosis and repair is needed. Serious mechanical or drainage system issues may be present.
  • With major leaking coming from the internal hoses or components. This requires specialized service.
  • If the washer is severely out of balance, suspension or frame repairs may be needed.
  • For drainage problems related to location, like a clogged connecting standpipe. Plumbing repairs are required.
  • When you are unable to access areas like the pump or hoses to attempt fixes. Technicians have proper tools.
  • If the machine emits burning smells when run, indicating electrical failure. Service is imperative to prevent fire risk.

Don’t hesitate to call in a professional appliance repair technician when major drainage issues arise or you feel unable to safely service the washer.

Preventing Future Problems

Once any immediate drainage problems are resolved, keeping your washer well maintained can help prevent recurrences:

  • Leave door open – Allow the washer tub to dry out between uses to prevent mold and mildew buildup.
  • Clean interior – Use washer cleaner monthly to remove residue and freshen the drum.
  • Check seals and gaskets – Ensure they’re intact with no cracks that could lead to leaks.
  • Remove lint – Clean the lint trap before and after each load to limit buildup.
  • Verify leveling – An unbalanced washer strains components and drainage.
  • Do a water test – Run the washer on a short cycle periodically and time how long it takes to drain. This is a good performance test.
  • Listen for problems – Unusual sounds like grinding or whistling when draining often indicate issues.
  • Check underneath – Look for leaks or water under the unit after draining as a test. Some problems may only occur when in use.

Staying vigilant about minor leaks, slow drainage, and other problems can help you address repairs before major damage or part failures result.

Summary of Draining a Washer

Draining your washer completely is an easy maintenance task that helps prevent problems and keep the machine working efficiently.

To drain a washer:

  • Prepare by gathering supplies, turning off power, checking manuals, positioning hoses, and removing excess water.
  • Drain top load washers by tipping back, using the drain hose, spinning, and towel drying interior.
  • Drain front loaders by opening the drain cap, accessing the pump filter, and towel drying inside.
  • HE washers require disconnecting hoses, cleaning the filter, spinning, and removing moisture.
  • Portables can be wheeled to a drain, emptied through hoses, then towel dried.
  • Prevent problems by maintaining pumps and filters, inspecting hoses, draining properly, and limiting debris and lint.
  • Troubleshoot issues by checking hoses, filters, pumps, and drainage paths and watching for leaks or sounds.
  • Utilize appliance technicians for repairs related to motors, complex leaks, location issues, or if unit is unsafe to access.
  • Avoid future problems through maintenance, checking seals, testing drainage, listening for odd sounds, and looking for leaks.

With the proper steps for your washing machine, draining it can be a simple routine task that keeps your appliance operating smoothly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Draining a Washer

Draining your washing machine properly is essential for keeping it in working order. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the process:

How often should you drain a washer?

It’s a good idea to drain your washer between each load of laundry. This clears out any remaining water and removes lint or debris that could clog hoses or pumps. Monthly deep cleaning with draining is also recommended.

What can happen if you don’t drain a washer?

Not draining a washer regularly allows moisture to linger inside the drum and components. This leads to mold, mildew buildup, odors, and eventual mechanical issues if water sits in parts. Clogged drains or pumps can also result.

How do you drain a top load washer manually?

To manually drain a top load washer, remove any standing water with a cup. Tip the washer back carefully to allow flow from the drain outlet into a receptacle. Run a spin cycle to extract remaining water before towel drying the interior tub by hand.

Where is the drain plug located on a front load washer?

On most front load washers, the drain plug is located in the bottom front panel. Removing this cap allows water to drain out into a bucket or drain pan placed underneath. Make sure to close the cap again once drained.

Why does my washer keep draining slowly?

A washer that drains slowly over time usually has a clog. Check hoses for kinks, clean out the pump filter, and inspect your home drain lines. Built-up lint, detergent, and debris causes sluggish drainage.

What should I do if my washer won’t drain at all?

If your washer won’t drain, first check that it has power. Then verify nothing is jammed in the pump filter or hoses. Pressing start on a drain cycle can sometimes trigger drainage. If problems persist, a technician should service your washer.

When should you call for washer drainage repairs?

Call an appliance repair technician whenever you are unable to diagnose or fix a drainage issue yourself. For example, if the pump motor fails, leaks occur in internal hoses, plumbing repairs are needed, or you can’t access drain components safely.


Knowing how to drain a washer fully is an essential maintenance skill for any laundry machine owner. Following the appropriate steps for draining your particular washing machine model prevents problems like mold, odors, and clogged pumps. Make draining part of your regular laundry routine. And perform occasional deep cleaning sessions to keep the washer drainage system clear and functioning efficiently for the long haul. With proper care when draining, your washer will have a long and useful life.