How to Clear a Washing Machine Drain Pipe

Updated February 21, 2017

Washing machines are a time-saving device--as long as they work. When they're on the fritz, they can make our lives a living nightmare. One way that washing machines sometimes malfunction is when their drain pipes are clogged. The drain hose on the washing machine is connected to the drain pipe, which is usually directly behind the washing machine. The drain pipe leads to your home's sewer system. Clearing a the pipe isn't much different than clearing a backed-up kitchen or bathroom sink.

Unplug the washing machine. This will prevent accidental shock.

Unhook the washing machine drain hose from the machine drain pipe. The goose neck end of the hose sits in the top of the pipe and is often secured by wire or a bit of plastic tie. Cut the tie with wire snippers or scissors or untie the wire and remove the drain hose.

Insert a plumber's snake into the washing machine drain pipe. Keep feeding it forward until you feel it meet resistance. As soon as that happens, tighten the wing nut at the front of the snake and spin the rotation knob at the back to help break up the clog.

Feed the snake through again. Whenever you meet resistance, tighten the wing nut and rotate the snake. Repeat this process until you no longer meet resistance.

Heat three cups of water to a boil. Mix with one cup of standard household beach. Pour the bleach into the drain pipe, then follow with the hot water.


Employ a mechanical snake if the plug is tough, but exercise caution because of the higher entrance level of most washing machine drain pipes. The snake must be above the surface of the pipe, which would mean the snake must be about three or four feet off the ground. Secure the snake if you do this.


Wear protective gloves when working with snakes and drain pipes, as these can both contain harmful bacteria.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire snippers/scissors
  • Plumbing snake
  • Container
  • Household bleach
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About the Author

Nathan McGinty started writing in 1995. He has a Bachelor of Science in communications from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in international journalism from City University, London. He has worked in the technology industry for more than 20 years, in positions ranging from tech support to marketing.