How to Drain a Washing Machine Full of Water

washing machine that needs to be drained of water

If your washing machine is experiencing a fault and you need to drain the water out of the drum, it can be tricky.

We will be looking at how you can manually drain your washing machine so that you can look for any blockages or carry out a repair such as a pump replacement.

It’s common for washing machines to experience drain faults, mainly because people forget to empty their pockets before they start a wash cycle.

This can lead to blockages, drain pump failure, and error codes being displayed on the machine.

Draining a washing machine manually

You might need to drain your washing machine manually sometimes which is not always an easy task. Here are 7 steps to draining a washer.

1. Unplug the machine

It’s important that you unplug the machine from the mains electricity before you start draining it.

unplugging a washing machine before repair

Washing machines can be dangerous and you should never mix water with electricity.

So that you can safely drain off your washing machine and prevent unforeseen circumstances, you should make sure the machine has been unplugged from the wall socket.

2. Pull the machine out so you can work on it

When you’re carrying out any kind of repair, making sure you have a good working space is important.

washing machine with space around it

When your washing machine is under a worktop or in a tight fitting space, you’ll need to pull it out.

Pulling the machine out so it can be leaned back or on its side makes draining it much easier, especially if you need to carry out a repair afterwards.

3. Lean the machine back so you can fit a bowl underneath

The best way to drain a washing machine manually is by letting the water come out of the drain pump filter.

This means that you’re going to need to lean the machine back. This is so you can fit something to catch the water underneath.

If you don’t lean the machine back and then open the filter, water will flood out and you won’t be able to control the flow.

water being mopped up from leaking washing machine

It’s also a good idea to make sure you have some towels on hand to absorb any spills.

You want to make sure the machine is in a secure position so that it can’t fall. Having two people to do this makes it much safer and easier to carry out.

4. Remove the kickplate

The kickplate is at the bottom of the machine. You might have not noticed it before, but it covers the drain pump which is at the bottom right.

washing machine kickplate  highlighted

You can use a flat headed screwdriver or something else that can fit in the groves to ply it off.

It should take much force for it to come off. Make sure that you are careful and don’t break the connector tabs on either side.

On some washing machines, you might need to unscrew the kickplate, although this is rare, especially on modern machines.

5. Slowly unscrew the drain pump filter and drain off the water

You should place a bowl or a bucket underneath where the drain pump filter is located. This is to catch the water.

Start by slowly removing the drain pump filter so the water starts to leak out. If you think that the water is going to come rushing out, it’s best to leave the filter in just enough so that you can control the flow.

You can tighten and loosen the filter as much as you need so that you can drain off the water and remove it from where you’re working.

The average washing machine will have enough water inside to fill a few buckets of water, depending on the drum capacity.

Make sure that you don’t overtighten the filter while you’re working with it because it can lead to leaks in the future.

Keep draining off the machine until no more water is coming out of the pump housing. You can then gently lean the machine forward to get any excess water out. This is where a towel comes in handy as it might splash.

If you’re looking for a blockage in your machine, now’s the time to loom inside the drain pump housing and remove anything that you see. Sometimes the drain pump impeller might have something wrapped around it so it’s best to shine a torch in so you can see anything.

6. Fit the drain pump filter cap back

Once you are happy that you have drained off the water, you should refit the drain pump filter back in.

drain pump filter cap after being screwed in

You have to be careful to not overtighten the cap or leave it loose as it might leak on the next wash cycle.

Drain pump filter caps have a seal on them which is prone to getting squashed and then the filter will need to be replaced.

7. Refit the machine

Put the machine back down so it’s on all four legs again and run a test cycle.

If you were removing a blockage from your machine, then you’re probably going to want to make sure it’s draining again so that you don’t have to remove the machine in the future.

If your machine has had a blockage and it’s still not draining, it might be because the drain pump impeller has become damaged from trying to move the blockage.

Using the drain off tube

Some washing machines are fitted with a drain off pipe which is connected to the drain pump housing.

This is particularly useful if you want to drain your washer, but can’t carry out the repair because of the weight of the machine.

washing machine drain off tube

You can check if your machine has a drain off tube by removing the kickplate and searching near the drain pump for a thin rubber pipe. It will usually have a cap on the end that you need to remove so it will let the water out.

It’s important that if you’re going to use this drain tube you’re properly prepared. You should have something to catch the water in and some towels to clean up any spills.

It’s also a good idea to isolate the machine from the power for safety reasons.

More information

If your washing machine needs to be drained manually, it’s probably because it hasn’t been draining recently.

Common reasons that a washing machine won’t drain include:

  • Blockage in the pump or sump pipe
  • Blockage in the water waste pipe
  • Faulty drain pump
  • PCB malfunction

If you’re going to be searching for a blockage after you have drained off the machine, you might want to take a look at our handy guide on why your washing machine might not be draining.