Using a washing machine from storage

Calendar Before using a washing machine that has been in storage (especially for a long time) you should be aware that new faults could appear. Don’t just assume everything is ok even if it worked OK before. All appliances have the potential to mysteriously develop a fault that wasn’t there before if they’ve been left unused for a long time.

It’s partially due to things drying out, rotting or corroding, or seizing up – and partly one of life’s mysteries. If it’s been a long time since the appliance was used and/or it’s been stored in a poor environment then it’s possible for hoses or seals inside the washing machine to dry out and go hard, crack, or even rot and split. So it’s wise to keep a very close eye on one that’s not been used for a long time when reusing it for the first time in case it leaks or floods.


What to watch out for when using for the first time

There are various faults that could manifest when using an old washing machine for the first time but the first thing to be cautious of is introducing water into the machine, which of course is the first thing a washing machine does.

Therefore, before letting any water go into the machine you need to put it onto a spin cycle to check you will be able to pump it away. Check the following –

Is the water pump running, and sounding normal? There should be two sounds on the spin cycle, the motor & drum revolving together, and the water pump. Most washing machines and even dishwashers make very similar sounds when their pumps run so you should be able to recognise the pump sound.

If you cannot hear the sound of the water pump underneath the sound of the drum and motor, or you can only hear a humming sound then the pump could have seized up. If this is the case there is no point allowing any water into the machine, you will only end up with a washing machine stuck full of water.

If the pump is not running or is just making a loud hum you need to either free off the jammed pump or replace it. If it sounds like it is running ok then let the machine do the full spin cycle to warm up gently. If it completes ok you can try the next step which is letting some water inside.

Make sure it doesn’t leak or over fill

Ideally you should carefully examine the door seal and the hoses inside the machine (especially the sump hose running from the outer drum to the pump) to see if they are OK. If they look OK I would put the machine on a wash cycle and let it fill up with water.

You are watching for water running onto the floor and also for overfilling. If it leaks you need to troubleshoot why it is leaking. If it doesn’t stop filling and water rises above halfway up the glass with no sign of it stopping it could be overfilling.


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If it stops filling at a normal level and starts to wash without leaking onto the floor then things are looking good, but I would now cancel the wash cycle or turn it off and put it onto spin. You need to make sure that the pump is able to pump away the water successfully and that it isn’t blocked anywhere.

If it drains out the water successfully then you can put the washer back onto a wash cycle (40 degree cottons) and then test the machine more thoroughly. A washing machine might leak profusely straight away, but if it doesn’t, this is no guarantee that it won’t leak later on in the wash cycle or on the rinses and spins. Therefore you need to watch the machine for much longer to be sure. If it leaks or otherwise plays up you will at least be there to deal with it.

I wouldn’t leave it running until it’s been on at least 10 minutes without incident, and even then I would keep popping back to watch it every several minutes until it’s well into its cycle and has done a few rinses. Keep an eye on it for the next few wash cycles until you trust it is working properly.

Related articles: Transporting a washing machine | How to store a washing machine

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10 thoughts on “Using a washing machine from storage”

  1. We recently bought a vacation home which had a washing machine furnished. The home is heated but we have not returned for 4 months. Should we be concerned that the seals in the wash machine will be damaged from lack of use.

    What do you consider a long time for a wash machine to sit without use if in a controlled environment

  2. Hello Donna. I was thinking of much longer periods of time and more being stored in unfriendly environments such as in a garage or outbuilding. However, if the door has been left closed for 4 months it’s possible the rubber could stick to the door glass, especially if exposed to strong sunlight. If the door seal appears OK, just keep an eye on the washing machine when using again for the first time.

  3. What does the pump look like in the washing machine how do I free it up? as I have a machine full of water as I put the machine on a empty hot wash cycle after being stored for about 18 months, water won’t pump and I have lots of flashing lights.

  4. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Glenda. That’s one of the problems with leaving appliances unused. They have a remarkable capacity to develop faults that weren’t there before. Something might have just gone tight or stiff and possibly may work ok if freed up. Remove the pump filter and try turning the impeller round to see if it’s gone stiff and can be loosened up.

    Washing Machine Won’t Drain Water

  5. What is the best way to store my washing machine when it is not in use for a month,
    I find there are lots of bits in the wash when I use it.I have tried bleach but still does it I regally clean the filter out.

  6. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Ann. If it’s just going to stay where it is but not be used for a month I wouldn’t do anything other than turn off the power and the taps. Then before using it again do a boil wash with detergent but no laundry inside followed by one at 40 degrees to help clean it out. If a washing machine is going to be stored for longer I have an article here – How to store a washing machine

  7. My washing machine was in storage for a year and when I used it the clothes came out smelling really moody. The machine itself is clean and so is all the rubber. I ran it on very hot with vinegar and baking soda and it still smells what can I do ?

  8. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Lizzie. Try it a few more times. It’s all you can do. Do at least one boil wash and one at 60 degrees and one at 40. No need for laundry just detergent. If that doesn’t clear it then something must have rotted inside or it’s too bad to clear. This article should help Get rid of washing machine smells

  9. Melanie Macdonald

    Hello, my Bosch machine was in storage for just over a year. No leaks and pumping and draining fine as far as I can hear and see. Problem being, it is not carrying out a full cycle properly. At times it jumps from 3 mins to 1 min then back to 3 mins to end. It never finishes completely. It has also not drained and spun the load. Other times the door will not open but will after turning machine off and resetting the programme. Could this be a problem with the electronics with it being a digital display rather than it being a parts problem? Thanks I’m advance

  10. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Melanie. It’s not possible to work out what could be wrong as the symptoms are a bit vague. I’m not saying that you have been vague, the symptoms are not displaying themselves directly enough to be able to pinpoint the problem. However, when you said that it has not drained and spun the load I would need to know if you mean it has not drained any water out at all (which is how an engineer would interpret that), or whether you just mean that it has drained the majority of the water out but the clothes are still wet through because it hasn’t spun? There’s a massive difference between the two possibilities, and an engineer would need to know exactly which one it is before trying to guess at an issue.

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