How to Unclog a Washing Machine Drain Pipe

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Whether we like it or not, a clogged washing machine drain is a common occurrence in every household.

More often than not people would much rather unclog the drain by themselves than call the plumber, mainly because plumbing services tend to be expensive.

Over time lots of nasty materials build up in the drain causing a clog and water not being able to go down which leads to water coming back up and creating a flood which is a huge mess to clean up.

washing machine clogged

How to Unclog a Washing Machine Drain Pipe

First things first, turn the water supply to the appliance off, and also switch the power to the area off at the breaker before you attempt any repairs.

Trust me you don't want a short circuit on top of the whole clogged drain problem. You should also drain out the water from the washing machine and I suggest using a bucket to scoop out the water from the inside.

Now that that's done, you need to find the washer water pipe which is usually at the back of the machine and locate the clog by using a flashlight or some other source of light to see where did the grime and buildup accumulate in order to clean it properly.

Take the water pipe off the machine by using pliers and connect it to a hose to rinse out the gunk.

how to unclog a washing machine drain pipe

Of course, there are many other methods which can be used to get rid of the clog and also lots of household chemicals that can be found in your local supermarket.

Many brand names offer their cleaning products with instructions on the back on how to use them which is quite liberating to know that your problem isn't unfixable.

As I was saying, some drains are tougher to clean mainly because the clog is too thick or even maybe a small piece of clothing has made its way there.

Don’t lose hope. In that case, your best solution is to use some kind of pole or even a coat hanger to push or pull out the clogged mess. Rinse and repeat until the hose is emptied from all the junk.

When Standard Methods Fail

That being said, you should also keep in mind that there can still be some leftover material stuck to the inside of the drain which our standard methods can’t fix.

1. Try the Chemicals

They aren’t cheap but are way cheaper than your local plumber, trust me on this one. Of course, there are many types of chemical cleaners, but I’m going to make a quick list of some of the properties which the cleaners contain and on which you should keep an eye out:

  • Alkaline – products containing sodium hydroxide, for example, are great for dissolving greases and hair.
  • Acidic – sulfuric acid is also a great grease dissolver and will surely get rid of fabric and lint if you want something stronger - try hydrochloric acid but be aware of its power.
  • Enzymes – these are special chemicals made for unclogging and prevention of buildup, you can find them online but they tend to be expensive.

Use these chemicals with caution and don’t try to mix-up some concoction of random stuff you find at home because it usually doesn’t end well.

I suggest when you buy the products first test them out by pouring a small amount into the drain and wait for a reaction, usually it will start to bubble or just slide the gunk away.

Get the following safety equipment and use these tips while using chemicals:

  • Safety glasses – chemicals can literally burn your eyes.
  • Rubber gloves – and your hands too.
  • Face mask – breathing in the vapors can have huge health risks.
  • Vent out the room – you really don’t want the fumes to linger and get into the walls.
  • Take a shower and change your clothes – I would suggest washing your clothes too but seeing that your washing machine isn’t fixed I suppose that isn’t an option.

2. Look for the Problem Elsewhere

All in all, if these methods don’t seem to work and your washing machine still isn’t working properly try to find the source of the problem elsewhere. Maybe the problem is in the filter through which water flows and collects lint and other larger pieces of material.

The filter acts as a water purifier and not cleaning it for a certain amount of time can lead to it being clogged and not being able to trap the lint resulting in the buildup and a clogged drain also.


Cleaning the filter doesn’t require much work and it is usually located at the front of the machine below the drum. Take it out by unscrewing it and clean it by rinsing it with water and by shaking it to get all the lint out. 

If all else fails, get a new filter here.

3. Check the Water Pump

If that still doesn’t get the job done your only option is to check the water pump which is connected to the drain inside the machine and see if it needs to be fixed or replaced.

I fear this is a call for your local plumber because untrained handling can cause irreversible damage and at that point, you might consider replacing the pump or buying a new washing machine altogether.

Prevention Tips

Hopefully, you found my guide useful and now I would like to talk about how to prevent the clog from accumulating in the first place.

1. Use Enzymes Regularly

First things first, in order to keep the drain clean you should pour some of those enzymes based chemicals at least once a month.

Check and clean the filter monthly or weekly depending on how frequently you use the washing machine. Even calling the plumber once or twice a year for maintenance isn’t a bad idea.

2. Understand the Causes of Clog

Second, you need to know what causes the clog in order to have a better understanding of how to clean it.

The clog is usually made up of either lint or even the filth from your clothes which all go first through the filter then the water pump and eventually the drain itself.

Anyone who got some detergent on their hands while pouring it in the machine knows that it tends to get sticky when dry. In this mixture of lint, filth and laundry detergent is where the clog is born.

There are very small differences in laundry detergents so there’s no need to empty out your pockets for some expensive brands, the clothes clean themselves mainly by rubbing against each other.

3. Wash Clothes with Hot Water

Something you should try is washing the clothes with hot water because the heated water coming through the drain can clean some of the gunk better than cold water.

I wouldn’t recommend doing this with all types of clothes because they could shrink in size or ware out and fade over time, so white clothes only.

4. Pre-Wash Occasionally

If you want to be extra careful and don’t want any filth trapped in your drain to accumulate, try using pre-wash on your clothes, they aren’t expensive and get the job done and also you just need to wash your clothes with cold water and you’re done.

Final Word: On Unclogging a Washing Machine Drain Pipe

As you can see there are many ways you can fix a clogged drain, also there are many useful preventive measures that can help you not get into this mess in the first place.

Try them out and see what works best, most clogs are easy to clean but there are some that will need an expert’s opinion and help.


In conclusion, I would like to say that in spite of the pricey services, a plumber will most certainly get the job done much better and quicker than someone who is faced with this problem for the first time.

Also, keep in mind that not all malfunctions are the same and in some cases, it is better to hire a professional.

Although this guide is a DIY one, spending your free time fixing a problem this size sometimes is much more expensive than investing your money. I wish you a fast unclogged drain and best of luck.