How to remove something stuck in washing machine

How-to This is a quick guide on how to remove something stuck inside a washing machine (usually between the outer drum and inner drum). If something has been left inside a pocket and has got inside the washing machine it may need to be removed before using it again.

If it is making scraping noises when the drum turns it could be an underwire from a bra, they can cause a breakdown though it’s unlikely to cause any serious damage. But if something substantial like keys or coins get stuck inside the drum it can write off a washing machine these days. This is because they nearly all have plastic outer drums. I’ve seen many where the drum has had a hole punched right through it, or a nasty crack has appeared. Other parts such as the inner drum, heater, and front plates can also get damaged.

Don’t just start stripping things down without thought

Don’t just dive in and start taking the washing machine apart. If there is definitely something stuck and it is making a noise when the drum turns (and you have taken off the drive belt to ensure that the noise is definitely coming from the drum and not a fault on the motor) then something probably needs to be done.

If you know what the obstruction is and it is strong then it clearly could do some serious damage. If it is something flimsy, which you can’t imagine doing any damage, then the worse that’s likely to happen is it could make its way into the pump filter and block it sometime in the future. This would definitely be inconvenient, but it something that should be able to be relatively easily fixed.

If something has gone into the machine but it is not making a noise, then unless you know it is something that could seriously damage the drum or the plastic outer tub it could be an option to just keep an eye on it and see if it makes its way into the pump, most of which should be protected by a pump filter.

If you cannot hear any noise when using the machine, but you know something’s got stuck inside, the first place to check would be pump filter.

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Bra underwires

The most common object that gets stuck and makes a scraping noise when the drum turns is an underwire from a bra causing a constant scraping noise when the drum is turned. These are far less likely to cause any serious damage as they aren’t substantial enough, but they can cause leaks by working their way to the front plate seal and more commonly they can get stuck in the sump hose and filter.

If looking for a bra underwire the first thing to check is that a small piece of the end of the wire isn’t poking through a hole in the drum. It may not be obvious at all and a normal look could miss it, but I’ve managed to get the odd one out this way.

Once in the filter they snag bits of cotton and fabric, and eventually a build up becomes great enough to block the water from draining. If this does happen though it can usually be easily removed through the pump filter.

Open the door and look very carefully, feel all round the holes with your hand. If you are very lucky, a millimetre of the end could be protruding from one of the holes. You’d be able to pull it back through with some pliers.

If there’s no sign of it try to get the obstruction from where the sump hose is attached

Obviously make sure the washer is unplugged from the mains and all the water has drained out, then take off the back panel. If it’s one of those washers with a useless small inspection plate at the back instead of a proper full back panel you will have to gain access to the sump hose by laying the machine on its front.

  1. Have a bath towel ready to catch the water that will be inside as there is always some water in the sump hose
  2. The sump hose is the black concertina hose that goes from the bottom of the tub to the water pump
  3. Take off this hose at the tub end, and pull it away from the tub

If you are lucky, the wire will be in the top of this hose. Look carefully inside it and then feel carefully through the hole in the bottom of the tub. The wire could be round here – possibly trapped under the heating element.

If you cannot see or feel it here, try tipping the washing machine back and forth to see if the wire slides about and get it to slide to the hole where you can reach it.

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Removing coins and other obstructions

If it isn’t a bra wire, and you can’t find anything in the sump hose and filter, or by tipping the washer back and forth so that the object drops through the sump hose hole then you can’t do any more without resorting to major surgery – that is, stripping the washing machine down. A worrying trend among many manufacturers is to produce washing machines with sealed outer tubs.

This makes stripping down a tub to carry out any repair including removing a trapped object impossible. This is a ridiculous idea and these washing machines should be avoided but sadly the majority of washers seem to be going down this path – especially the cheaper ones.

Removing a drum paddle (lifter) to gain access to the bottom of the tub

Washing machines usually have 3 plastic drum paddles (or lifters), some of which are detachable.

Sometimes one of the holes on the top of it is larger than the rest and a small screwdriver inserted down it can depress a tab allowing the lifter to slide back and off. If so you can remove one to gain access to the bottom of the outer tub. Make sure you prize the metal drum tab back up and clip the paddle back securely in place because if it comes off mid-wash it will not be pleasant.

If you can’t work out how to get one off it may be that it isn’t designed to come off. Indesit and Hotpoint drum paddles commonly come off this way but not all will. If you break a drum paddle or take it off and cannot get it back you will not be able to use the machine and could need a complete new drum if the paddles aren’t available as spare parts (check here washing machine drum lifter (paddle) replacements).

Sometimes you can get an obstruction out through the dispenser/tub hose or the heating element

If you suspect the obstruction is trapped somewhere in the middle of the drum you may be able to get to it through the hole in the outer drum where the dispenser hose is attached. This is where the water and detergent is washed into the drum from the soap drawer.

Sometimes an underwire gets mangled and trapped on the heating element and removing the element can allow access to it. However, it depends where the heater is, some are right at the front of the machine and very hard to access and some are at the back behind the rear panel and easy to access.

This method is not recommended though unless desperate because it may involve stripping a washing machine down, and you may not be able to refit the heater even if you get it out. Worse still you could refit it incorrectly and it pops out during a wash cycle flooding the kitchen, or you don’t get it located under its holding bracket and the drum bashes it relentlessly on spin. However, this article looks at where is the heater and how to remove it?

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68 thoughts on “How to remove something stuck in washing machine”

  1. Hi I have a Hotpoint BHWD149 which has been operating perfectly fine until my daughter noticed a wire missing from her bra upon wash cycle finish . First it clanged on spin then grated now nothing .. I’ve removed the lifters checked the pump filter and no offending item. Should I leave it or try investigating further ? Help

  2. Hello Sharon. You should at least check to see if it has made its way into the pump filter as described in the article above. After that, if all symptoms have stopped it might be better to just see how it goes. Sooner or later it could cause problems so it is better out than in but at the same time it can be very troublesome and could cause more problems trying to find it. It is possible for them to jam or fall somewhere out of harms way and not cause any more trouble but it is also possible for them to break in half, and snag on laundry causing tears if it lies underneath the revolving drum or if it goes into the pump filter or sump hose it can start snagging linked and bits of cotton from the wash which could eventually build up into enough to cause a blockage.

  3. Felt round inner drum for wire poking out -now removed- many thanks for your advise.
    would have cost £’s from AEG

  4. Thank you for your instructions. Have managed to remove a stray inner sole via the sump hose, had to tip the machine backwards and forwards a few times and then hey presto there it was. Thanks again :)

  5. 4 inch finish nail!…located, pulled out, sprung hole sufficiently convinced back into place…THANK YOU for guidance, encouragement, & cautions.

  6. Im an older woman living on my own & I’m missing a sock but there is no scratching or noise from the drum & it turns perfectly works perfectly well so my question is would my sock have passed right through the machine into the drain outside

  7. Hello Debbie. It would be rare for a sock to cause any noise. A sock can’t make it through the pump but pump filters are designed to catch obstructions so check your pump filter. If it isn’t there it must be somewhere inside the machine (assuming it IS in the machine and not somewhere else of course) and there’s not much you can do except either try to track it down using my article above (for front loaders) or get an engineer, or wait to see if it moves into the pump filter. If a sock gets into the pump filter though it will usually stop the washing machine from pumping the water out.

  8. We removed a bra wire from our electrolux front loader, it wasn’t causing any issues, just lying in the drain line. So we removed the rubber drain thingy, took out the wire, put it back on, tightened it up, now it’s LEAKING!!! What happened?! What did we do wrong??
    Please help!!

  9. Hello stumped. I’m assuming you mean the pump filter. If you remove the pump filter to unblock or clean it but it leaks when you put it back the only thing you can do is remove it again and thoroughly clean around all the rubber and try refitting it. If it didn’t leak before but it does now then either something is interfering with the seal, or it’s not refitted properly.

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