Can I Use My Washing Machine With A Missing Drum Paddle?

If one of the drum paddles has recently broken or become damaged, you might wonder whether it’s OK to use the washer with a broken or missing paddle. The short answer is no, it’s most definitely not OK to use the washer until the drum paddle has been replaced.

Keep reading to find out why drum paddles break, how to replace a drum paddle and why you shouldn’t use the washer until it’s fixed.

Can You Use A Washer Without A Drum Paddle?

You should never use a washing machine with a missing drum paddle or lifter as they’re also known. This is because the drum beneath the paddle will almost certainly have a hole in it with sharp edges.

If you were to run your finger around this hole, you would most likely cut it. Imagine what that sharp metal would do to your laundry!

As the clothes tumble around the drum they would become snagged on that sharp metal and rip.

The drum paddles or lifters are designed to agitate the laundry to help wash all of the dirt etc from the fabrics. They also direct the flow of water during the wash and rinse cycles. Plus, before the washer enters a spin cycle it will attempt to balance the load to protect the drum bearing from too much pressure.

If there is a paddle missing, the machine will find it difficult to balance the load. You will notice this because the washer will become far noisier than usual if the load isn’t balanced.

What Causes Drum Paddles To Break?

Washing Machine Drum Paddle

The most common cause of the drum paddles breaking in washing machines is because you forgot to empty your pockets before loading the washer. 

Items like keys, coins, nails, screws and hair clips can travel around the drum and get caught under the drum paddles eventually causing them to become loosened or damaged.

This is often due to items of clothing becoming attached to one end of the key etc, and exerting too much pressure and weight on the plastic paddle.

Another reason for the drum paddles to become damaged is washing trainers in the washer. The weight of the shoes is too much for the plastic paddles to cope with. They become damaged and broken which will then cause you all manner of problems later on.

Bathmats and other heavy items can also damage the drum paddles so always inspect the drum after washing any particularly heavy items for any damage to the paddles.

There are some washing machines that have metal paddles and others that don’t have any paddles at all. The drum is shaped with a curve which acts like the paddles but without any parts that can be broken.

This might be something to consider when replacing your washing machine in the future. But for now, let’s look at how to replace a damaged or broken paddle:

How To Replace A Broken, Damaged Or Missing Drum Paddle

If your washing machine’s drum paddles are made from plastic, they’re relatively easy to replace. Metal drum paddles can be difficult or even impossible to replace and can require replacing the entire drum.

As there are so many different makes and models of washing machine available on the UK market, there are a wide variety of drum paddles to choose from.

You will need to know the model number of your washing machine which is typically located either on the control panel or on a rating plate that will be found inside the door, on the filter cover or the back of the appliance.

If you still can’t find it, try looking in the handbook that came supplied with your appliance.

Most of the plastic drum paddles can easily be removed by simply removing a single screw or depressing a small clip using a screwdriver. 

Older models could have 2 metal tabs locking the drum paddles into position. These will both need to be pressed before sliding and lifting the paddle from the drum.

The best way to find out instructions for your specific appliance is to look at online tutorials.

Take care though, because some paddles should only be replaced by an expert unless you want to risk damaging the replacement.

How To Prevent Damage To Your Laundry By The Drum Paddles

It’s really not that difficult to prevent a damaged drum paddle from snagging, ripping or tearing your laundry. Simply inspect the drum paddles before you start to load your laundry into the drum.

There are typically 3 to check and it will only take a few seconds to run your fingers along the paddles. Once you’re sure there are no rough edges or broken plastic parts, you can load the machine and get on with the laundry.

Never, under any circumstances use the washing machine with a damaged, broken or missing drum paddle. This will almost certainly result in torn, ripped or damaged clothes.

SEE ALSO: Which Fabrics Should You Hand Wash? (& how to do it)

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need drum paddles for the washing machine?

The washing machine does need drum paddles. These paddles, or lifters as they’re sometimes called, lift and turn the clothes in the drum as it rotates. Damaged or missing paddles can prevent your clothes from cleaning and lead to damage to the items.

What does a drum paddle do in a washing machine?

The drum paddles ensure that the laundry moves around in the drum and directs the water flow during the wash and rinse cycles.

What causes washing machine paddles to break?

There are several things that can cause the drum paddles in your washer to break. These include; keys, coins, screws, nails, bra wires and other items getting trapped under the paddles and then snagging on clothes, washing items that are too heavy including; shoes, trainers, bath mats etc, and sometimes it’s just old age and wear and tear.

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