Cleaning Guides

How to Clean a Washing Machine Filter

Are you noticing problems with your washing machine? Does it sound different when it works? Does it leave your clothes smelling bad after washing? Regardless of the problem your machine has, it can be extremely infuriating and worrisome. For your peace of mind, you should know that most problems have a simple solution that you can solve on your own.

The answer might be in your washing machine’s filter. Did you know you’re supposed to clean it every 3-4 months? But how do you clean a washing machine filter? Luckily for you, we explain it all in detail in this article. Keep reading.

Table of Contents:

Finding and Removing the Filter

First, you should unplug the appliance. But where is the filter in a washing machine? Since there are two types of washing machines – top and front-loading – plus all brands have their own designs, consequently, the filters can be in different places. 

You should find your appliance’s manual and check the filter’s location and maintenance guidelines. However, if you don’t have the manual, here are a few places you should check to find where the filter is on your washing machine:

  • At the front of the machine, often at the bottom right corner behind a small door
  • Along the top rim of the drum 
  • Under the cover of the centre agitator
  • At the end of the drainage hose on the back of the machine

You should know that if your washing machine is fairly new, then it’s possible that it doesn’t have this filter. Many of the new units have their filters in the pumps and are self-cleaning.

If you’ve successfully located the filter, remove the cover. Keep in mind that some models may have a childproof cover, which means you’ll need to use a sharp object to pry the door open. Otherwise, simply pulling it off should do the job. When you remove the cover, you’ll likely see a small drain hose and the cap on the filter.

The hose has a small cap, too. Hold the hose over a dish and remove the cap. Water will begin to drain into the dish. When it stops flowing, put on the cap. 

If the filter on your machine is located underneath the agitator, remove the agitator first. Then, go to the filter’s cap and turn it anti-clockwise. When the cap loosens, remove it and take out the filter. It may have lint, hair, grime, detergent, dust and all kinds of filth on it, so you may want to use rubber gloves. 

Safety measures to follow when doing this type of maintenance are:

  • Keep the plug in a safe location. Preferably high above the ground so it doesn’t get wet while draining the washing machine. You can place it on top of the unit.
  • Have towels nearby so if water splashes everywhere, you can quickly soak it up. 
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Cleaning Your Filter

So, how to clean a washing machine filter? Follow these steps for a thorough filter cleaning:

With a paper towel, remove the residues, dust and lint from the filter’s screen. You can also soak the filter in a mixture of water and detergent for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, once the toughest grime is loosened, scrub with an old toothbrush to remove the filth. 

If you can, separate the screen from the filter and clean them separately. If not, place them under running hot water and scrub gently with the brush. 

Check the filter’s place for other lint and dirt. If there’s any, use a small brush or your hand (but wear rubber gloves) to get any loose lint, hair or dirt off before putting the filter back.

Please note that if your filter is old and has never been cleaned, you may need to replace it with a new one. Determine whether there’s a point in cleaning the filter at all, or if you receive unsatisfactory results after trying to clean it, buy a new one. 

When you’re putting the filter back, make sure you don’t forget its outer cover. Also, check if you’ve put the cap back on the draining hose. When you’ve made sure the cap and cover are back in their places, close the door which you opened to find the filter and hose. 

We advise you to run the washing machine on an empty cycle before adding laundry so you can check if you’ve done everything right. The machine should work smoothly and without any leaks or strange noises. 

If everything is fine, then you’ve done a good job. If there’s leakage or another issue, the filter wasn’t installed back into position correctly. You will need to remove it and put it back properly.

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How to Prolong the Life of Your Washing Machine’s Filter

The number one thing you can do to prolong the life of your washing machine’s filter is to clean it as often as it is recommended in the machine’s user manual. For most brands, it’s at least 3-4 times a year. With such regular cleaning and maintenance, the filter will continue doing its job and filter out the filth and dirt from the machine. If you don’t clean the filter, it can clog and not only will your clothes get out wet and dirty, but other problems can occur in the machine, as well. For example, your washing machine door might not open. This could be for a number of reasons, but it can also be a direct result of a clogged filter blocking water from draining.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to check the filter after every load of laundry that is heavily soiled and dirty. Doing this will prolong the life of the filter and the machine as a whole.

The second thing you should do is act fast and inspect a problem as soon as you spot one. Do not wait for the issue to get worse before paying attention to it. Signs of a clogged filter to look out for can be wet clothes after a final spin, excessive vibrations or improper water drainage. As soon as you spot something different in the machine’s functioning, call a professional to inspect the cause of the problem, especially if you’ve checked the filter and it’s clean. 

Our third recommendation to keep the filter clean and working is to empty pockets every time before you use the washing machine. 

Additional tips for prolonging your washing machine’s life:

  • Wipe the rubber ring at the machine’s entrance.
  • Let the drum and detergent drawer air dry after every load of laundry.
  • Load the right amount of clothing – do not over or underfill the machine. Neither is good for the appliance in the long run.
  • Do not use too much detergent and softener. Both can cause build-up inside the machine and in time it may become a problem.


  • Most washing machine filters are usually located at the bottom right or left of the appliance.
  • You need to clean your washing machine filter at least once every 3-4 months.
  • It takes around 15-20 minutes to clean a washing machine filter and you don’t need any special equipment.
  • Failing to clean your appliance filters on a regular basis can end up with reduced lifespan of your unit and the more frequent washing machine repairs.
  • While you are cleaning your washing machine filter, check the drainage hose as well. More often than not, the drain hose gets clogged with soap residue, as well.

Image source: Shutterstock / New Africa

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