A Rag Is Stuck in My Front Loading Washing Machine

Updated February 21, 2017

Front-load washing machines are designed to prevent laundry from getting trapped in the machine. However, smaller items, such as rags, socks and underwear, sometimes get caught in between the machine's two washtubs -- inner and outer -- and occasionally end up in the drain line. If you suspect that a rag is stuck in your washer, don't panic. Depending on where the rag is positioned, there are ways to retrieve it without having to contact a washing machine repair technician.

Front-Loading Washing Machine Design

A front-load washing machine has an inner and an outer tub. The outer tub holds water and surrounds the inner tub that contains laundry. The purpose of having two tubs is to separate laundry from the water to prevent laundry from entering the drain line and blocking water from exiting the machine. Unfortunately, the dual tub configuration isn't perfect, and every so often a piece of clothing enters the outer tub and becomes stuck.

Empty the Washing Machine

One of the first signs of a clog is that water remains in the tub even after the wash cycle ends. In this case, a rag prevents water from draining. Shut off power to the washing machine. Take out laundry from the machine, and place it in a waterproof container. Go to the back of the washing machine and locate the water pump filter. Refer to the washing machine's handbook for assistance. After you've found it, remove the hose and put it in a 5-gallon garbage pail or sink and let the water empty from the machine.

Rag Removal

Consult the washing machine booklet again for where to locate the primary access panel on your front loader if it's not readily apparent. Open the panel to reveal the outer drain tub and drain hose. If the rag is visible, remove it with your hands and reassemble.

If you don't immediately see the rag, perhaps it's near the portal entrance for the water pump. Detach and remove the drain hose joining the outer tub and water pump. Use a pair of pliers or your fingers to reach into the portal hole to remove the rag.

In certain cases, a rag can get trapped further down the drain line and will require that you take out the agitator to reach it. Call a washer repair specialist when this happens rather than attempt to remove the component yourself.


Depending on where you find the clog will ultimately determine whether or not more significant damage has occurred to the machine. For example, if the rag enters the water pump, it can break it. The water pump functions with the aid of a pulley system to push water from the outer tub. If a rag enters the water pump and gets caught around the pulley, it can freeze the mechanism. As a result, you need to replace the pulley system and possibly the water pump too.

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About the Author

Christie Gross has been writing since 1998. Her work writing public policy platforms for elected officials nationwide has been featured in national and local newspapers under various client pen names. Gross has a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, as well as a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.