How to Clean Out a Washing Machine Drain

Updated November 21, 2016

The washing machine starts to drain, and all of a sudden you hear the sound of running water and the floor is flooded within seconds. After shutting off the machine you see water pouring out of the washing machine drain. Sound familiar? The drain pipe can get clogged by cloth fragments, coins and all sorts of debris. Slow draining can add a foul odour to your clothes. Just take a few steps to clear and clean your washing machine drain.

To completely clear any clogs in the washing machine drain you will use a pipe auger (snake). Start at the roof plumbing vent and drop cable to roughly 10 or 15 feet past the actual drain. If there is a clog present, the snake will bring up a chunk of debris. Remove it from the top of the vent and discard.

Remove the drain hose from the back of the washing machine. This is normally held in place by a clamp or a couple of screws. When a drain backup occurs, pieces of debris can lodge in the hose, causing clogs and odours.

Soak the drain hose in a bucket of warm water mixed with 1 cup of bleach. Look to see if the line is free of obstructions. Run a small length of clothes hanger through the hose to clear any hard debris.

Reattach the drain hose using a screwdriver or pliers. Insert the hose into the washing machine drain. Be sure it is all the way into the drain opening.

Cycle the washer with warm water and 2 cups of bleach. The bleach will help remove any odour-causing particles in the machine and drain hose. Running the washing machine through a cycle will help flush away any remnants of the drain pipe clog.


Follow the user instructions for the pipe auger.


Unplug the washing machine while working on the hose. Wear protective eyewear if you are standing near a backed-up drain. Chemicals or debris could get splashed into your eyes.

Things You'll Need

  • Pipe auger (snake)
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Ladder
  • Scrub brush
  • Bucket
  • Bleach
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