A woman selects a cycle on a top load washer

How to fix a washing machine

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Washing machines are a staple appliance in every household and are relied on to keep your family’s laundry clean and fresh which makes it frustrating when problems occur. While some issues will need to be consulted by a professional, there are a few troubleshooting options you can try on your own before calling for assistance. Read on to get tips for how to troubleshoot complications with your washing machine and possible do-it-yourself fixes.

A front load washer in an open closet A front load washer in an open closet

What are common problems with washing machines?

Leaks, odors, loud noises and trouble with draining or spinning are all problems that can occur in a washing machine. If you have a front load washer, a common cause of these issues can be a dirty drain pump filter. You can try cleaning out the drain pump filter by removing lint, debris, or residual water before proceeding with the following troubleshooting steps. Be sure to reference your Use and Care Guide for cleaning instructions specific to your model.

A woman puts clothes into a washer A woman puts clothes into a washer

Fixing a washing machine: step-by-step instructions

While these problems are uncommon with proper installation and regular cleaning, different washer models may need to be fixed in different ways. The following is a general overview of potential troubleshooting options. You should always consult your appliance’s Use and Care Guide or Installation Instructions before attempting any repairs. If you need professional assistance, Whirlpool brand offers a variety of repair services.

An aerial view of a load of laundry mid wash cycle

Washing machine won’t drain

If your washing machine isn’t draining properly or your clothes are coming out wet, you may have a kinked drain hose, a drain hose that is installed at the wrong height, or an incorrect spin speed selected.

Spin cycle icon

Step 1: Check the selected spin speed

If you find that your clothing is coming out of the wash cycle more wet than usual, double-check the selected spin speed setting. Both gentle and delicate spin speeds use a slow spin to prevent fabrics from getting stretched or wrinkled, leaving more water behind in the load. To prevent excess water from being left behind, adjust the washer to a cycle with a faster speed, such as the Normal cycle.

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Step 2: Check to see if the drain hose is kinked or clogged

Locate the drain hose at the back of your washer. If the hose is crushed or kinked, straighten it out to allow water to flow through freely. To check for clogs in the hose or drainpipe, consult your model’s Use and Care Guide for instructions on how to remove the hose from the unit.

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Step 3: Check the drain hose height

Washing machines have minimum and maximum drain height requirements that allow them to work correctly. Most Whirlpool® washers require the drainpipe to be installed no more than 96 inches from the floor and no less than 39 inches. Drain pipes installed above the maximum height will cause water to flow back into the machine. Consult your washer’s Use and Care Guide for installation requirements specific to your model and adjust the hose height as needed. Whirlpool brand also offers professional installation services to avoid this problem.

A load of towels in the midst of a spin cycle

Washing machine won’t spin

A washer must spin in order to properly rinse clothes and drain water from the unit. If your washer is not spinning correctly, an unbalanced load, power failure, or leveling issue may be to blame.

Open front load washer icon

Step 1: Check to see if the load is unbalanced

Laundry loads should be loosely packed to prevent spin speeds from slowing. Clothing that is excessively damp at the end of a wash cycle may indicate that the load is too large. If this is the case, remove items to lighten the load. It is also recommended that similar items be paired with one another when washed to prevent the load from becoming unbalanced.

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Step 2: Check to see if there was a power failure

Power failures that occur during a wash cycle can prevent the washer from reaching its full spin speed. If a power failure has taken place, turn on a spin cycle to allow the residual water to drain from the machine.

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Step 3: Check to see if the washer is level

An unlevel washer can result in an unbalanced load and cause the appliance to spin incorrectly or make excessive noise during the cycle. Check to see that your washing machine is level and make adjustments accordingly. Be sure to consult your user manual for proper leveling instructions specific to your model.

A woman opening a top load washer

Washing machine is leaking

If you notice that water is leaking from your washer, there are a few simple solutions you can try. Tightening the hose connections or cleaning out the door seal and drain pump filter are all possible fixes for a leaky washing machine.

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Step 1: Check hose connections

Ensure that both the fill and drain hoses are properly connected to your washing machine and check for any damaged, loose or missing rubber washers. Tighten any loose connections or washers as needed.

Open front load washer icon

Step 2: Check the door seal

If water is leaking from the door of your front load washer, this is most likely a problem with the door seal. Wipe down the seal using a damp rag to remove debris and dirt. If this does not solve the problem, something may be stuck beneath it. Check for debris lodged under the seal by gently pulling it back. If you come across tears in the door seal, it will need to be replaced.

A woman putting a load of laundry into a top load washer A woman putting a load of laundry into a top load washer

Washing machine is giving off odors

Odors created by your washing machine are typically the result of a missed cleaning, a load being left inside for too long, or the use of excessive detergent or fabric softener. These can be easily corrected.

Clean your washer

Whether you own a Whirlpool® front load, top load, stacked or all-in-one washer, your appliance should be cleaned every thirty days or so to keep it smelling fresh and performing its best. You can use a cleaner like affresh® Washing Machine Cleaner tablets1, or other household items that can be used to clean a washer as well.

Remove loads immediately after each cycle

Laundry that is left in the washer for too long after a cycle is complete can become musty and cause odors. To prevent odors from forming, remove clothing immediately after it has finished washing.

Use less detergent in laundry loads

Using too much detergent can cause residue to be left behind in your washing machine and create unwanted odors. To prevent excessive detergent usage, follow the instructions provided on your detergent bottle and use the cap to measure the correct amount for whatever size load you are washing.

A washer and dryer set in a laundry room A washer and dryer set in a laundry room

Washing machine is making loud noises

Certain sounds coming from your washing machine are normal and should not be cause for concern, while others may indicate a problem that needs repair.

Clunking and grinding

Some clunking and grinding are normal sounds and usually occurs when the drive system switches from agitation to full spin. If the noise is louder than usual and sounds like metal grinding on metal, you may want to contact a professional.

Rattling or vibrating

Rattling or vibrating is typically caused when the washing machine is off balance or unlevel. Learn how to stop a washing machine from shaking. Try removing items from the wash cycle to help lighten the load. If the sound persists, you may need to level the unit

Humming and gurgling 

Continuous humming is a normal sound to hear while your load is being washed and is often accompanied by a periodic gurgling as water is removed during the spin and drain cycles.

Clicking or small metallic sounds

Clicking noises often occur at the start of a cycle when the washer lid is locking into place or when metal items on clothing like buttons or zippers bump against the machine during a cycle. Be sure to empty your pockets before loading items into the unit to prevent coins and other small items from falling between the basket and the tub.

If you own a Whirlpool brand washer and are still having trouble after trying these solutions, visit the Whirlpool® Repair page for further assistance. Plus, learn more about how you can wash clothes without a washing machine in the meantime.

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Shop popular Whirlpool® washers

When it’s time to upgrade to a new washer for your home, Whirlpool brand offers a variety of options to suit your needs.

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1. Affresh® and the recommending brand products are all owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation