If you use colour catcher sheets (or colour and dirt collector sheets) in your washing machine drum you need to be aware that they can cause your washing machine to break down.
I have personal experience of this, and have seen several other cases. Our own washing machine and my in-laws washing machine have both broken down with a colour catcher sheet proving to be the culprit.
What are Colour Catchers?
These sheets are designed to protect your laundry from the dye that leaks out of some items of laundry and prevent it from staining other items – especially whites. They somehow soak up and “capture” any stray dye.
The truth is that you are not even supposed to wash whites and coloureds together. You are supposed to wash them separately. In fact the two types of laundry even need different types of detergent.
Whites need detergent containing bleaching agents. This keeps them white. Coloureds need detergent without any bleaching agent to prevent colours being bleached away and keep the colours stronger for longer.
But many people (including my wife) prefer to wash mixed loads. They mix light coloured and white laundry with coloured laundry.
This isn’t strictly how it should be done but if you hardly have any white laundry it’s not possible to wash them separately.
So these colour catchers allow you to wash mixed loads and cleverly “catch” any loose dye to prevent it from staining other items of laundry.
What is the problem with Colour Catchers?
The problem is that they are very small and thin. Anything this small and thin can easily get sucked into the gap at the back of the door seal in front of the lip of the revolving drum (see pic 1).
If this happens then the colour catcher will find its way into the water pump and either physically jam the pump, or most likely if a pump filter is fitted it will jam the pump filter (see pic 2).
Either way this would cause the washing machine to break down and leave it full of water.
Is it Best not to Use a Colour Catcher?
I would check your washing machine first. Have a look at the gap between the back of the door seal and the front lip of the revolving drum. If it is very small like the one in pic one above, and the rubber closest to the drum is fairly firm then in fairness it is very unlikely that one of these colour catcher sheets would find its way down between that gap.
On the other hand, if there is quite a wide gap (I’ve seen them as big as 10 or 15 mm) and or the rubber closest to the drum is soft, floppy or warped I would be extremely cautious about using one. There is a good chance that sooner or later you will lose the colour catcher down inside the drum.
If you are concerned, but still want to use one, then I would recommend that you take note of the following tips. Always ensure that you place the colour checker sheet on top of the laundry and slightly to the back. Do not overload the washing machine. This makes it easier for items to work their way to the front and become trapped there where it is much likely to get sucked down.
And finally, a good option would be to use the colour catcher inside one of those protective wash nets (or laundry bags). They are made of lightweight netting so you can zip it up inside and make the whole thing much larger, without preventing the colour catcher from working.
Related article: Can’t find washing machine colour sheet after washing