How To Open A Locked Washing Machine Door

If your washing machine door is locked shut and won’t open it can be problematic. This problem typically occurs when the drum is full of wet laundry. The longer the wet washing remains in the drum, the more likely it is to get that damp, musty smell.

If your washing machine door is locked and won’t open, keep reading. In this article I explain why washing machine doors get stuck and offer the best solutions to these issues.

How To Open A Locked Washing Machine Door 

Integrated Washing Machine

There are a few different ways to get a locked washing machine door open which include;

Wait For Two Minutes

It is standard operating procedure for washing machine door locks to remain in force for around 2 minutes after the cycle has completed. 

This is a safety feature designed to ensure the laundry is cool enough to handle and ensure there is no water left in the drum.

If after 2 minutes, the door still won’t open, you’ll need to try one of the other methods below.

Perform A Reset

If the problem has been caused by an electrical fault either in the door lock mechanism or a control board malfunction, it can often be cleared by performing a reset.

All you need to do is disconnect the power supply for around 10 to 15 minutes. This allows any residual power to discharge and clear the system.

You then need to reconnect the power supply which should have cleared the problem and the door will open as normal.

Locate & Use The Manual Door Release Tab

Consult your user manual to find out if your washing machine has a manual door release tab. In the absence of a user manual, the door release tab will typically be located under the same flap as the filter or under a flap close by.

All you need to do is open the flap, find the pull tab which will typically be a different colour to the rest of the machine and gently pull it to release the door lock.

Take care because the tab will be made from thin plastic and is easily broken.

Hit The Lock Area

You can often free a stuck door lock on a washing machine by hitting the area around the lock with the palm of your hand. 

You need to exert just enough force to free the stuck lock, but not so much as to damage the appliance or hurt your hand.

Manipulate The Lock Using An Old Credit Card

This technique takes a gentle hand and patience. Simply slide the credit card under the door into the gap between the door and the frame.

Gently move the card around to the right side of the door around the middle section and flip the door latch.

Open The Lock Using A Fishing Line

This method uses thin strong line like fishing line or strimmer cable. Simply feed the line under the edge of the door between the frame and the door and run it around the lock mechanism.

Then pull both ends of the line from the left-hand side which will force the line under the lock and open it.

Why Is The Door On The Washing Machine Locked?

There are several reasons why the door on your washing machine might get locked closed which include;

Probable CauseSolution
Child Lock ActivatedDeactivate the child lock
Interrupted CyclePerform a reset
Defective Door Lock MechanismCheck and replace the door lock mechanism
Fault In The Drainage SystemCheck the drain filter, drain hose, sink waste pipe and drain pump
Defective Pressure SwitchInspect and replace the pressure switch if necessary
Defective TimerCheck and replace the timer if necessary
Control Board MalfunctionContact a technician

Let’s take a closer look at these issues;

Child Lock Activated

Control panel of washing machine

The child lock, or control lock as it is also known,  is a safety feature designed to prevent damage to the appliance and injury to small hands messing with the machine.

Once activated, the child lock prevents any switches, buttons or dials from working as well as keeping the door in the locked position. You should see a symbol that resembles a key or a child’s face on the display screen to signify that the child lock has been activated.

Consult your user manual for specific instructions on how to deactivate the child lock on your washing machine. Many machines have a designated child lock button that simply needs to be pressed and held for 3 to 5 seconds to remove the child lock.

After the set time, you should hear a beep and the door should then open.

Interrupted Cycle

If the cycle has been interrupted by a power cut or outage the washer will abort the cycle. However, the door locking mechanism could be stuck in the locked position.

The same result could occur if the circuit breaker has tripped or there is a loose power cord or the plug isn’t fully inserted into the wall socket.

Defective Door Lock Mechanism

If the door lock mechanism develops a fault, it could cause the door to be stuck closed and locked. You will need to open the door by another means like those outlined above.

In some cases the door lock mechanism could have overheated which is why it will not operate. If this is the case, all that is often needed is to allow the lock mechanism to cool down.

Giving it around 20 to 30 minutes to cool down is often all that is required. The door should then open as normal.

The door lock mechanism will then need to be checked out by a technician who will be able to repair or replace any faulty parts.

Fault In The Drainage System

washing machine drain hose

The door on your washing machine will not open if there is water detected in the drum. This is a safety feature designed to prevent flooding and water leaks.

If you can actually see water in the drum, the problem of the locked door is probably linked to a drainage issue.

Check & Clean The Filter

The first thing to check is the filter which is typically located at the bottom front of the washer under a flap. Take care before removing the filter as water will gush from the cavity as soon as you loosen the filter.

Place a bowl or tray on the floor to catch any water and control the flow by only slightly opening the filter until the bowl is full. Then closing the filter and emptying the bowl and repeating until the drum is empty.

Once the filter has been removed you can wash it under a fast flowing tap to remove any debris. Check inside the housing as well because there may be stray buttons, coins, nails, screws, hair pins or other foreign objects causing an obstruction.

Check The Drain Hose And Remove Any Blockages

If the filter is clear and free from any obstruction, the next place to check is the drain hose. You should carefully remove the rain hose from the standpipe or disconnect it from the waste pipe under the sink.

Have a bucket standing by to catch any water trapped in the hose. You might need to push a plumber’s snake through the hose to draw out any blockage.

Once the drain hose is clear and all of the water has been removed from the drum, the door should open again.

Check The Sink Waste Pipe

If the drain hose is clear and the filter is clear, the problem could be caused by the waste pipe under the sink that the drain hose is connected to. You can check this by filling the sink with water.

Check to see that the water runs away properly and flows at a decent rate. If not, the waste pipe might be blocked. You can clear any blockage using a plunger, plumber’s snake or commercial drain cleaner.

Defective Pressure Switch

person looking at washing machine

The pressure switch consists of a chamber attached to the bottom of the drum which is connected to a tube that connects to the pressure switch. As water enters the drum, air is forced through the lower chamber and up through the thin tube until it reaches the pressure switch.

Once the air gets to the switch it activates it which sends a message to the control board notifying that there’s sufficient water to start the wash. After the wash cycle has completed, and the water has drained away, the air pressure changes and another message is sent to the control board to allow the door to open.

If the pressure switch develops a fault or the tube or chamber becomes blocked or damaged, the control board will not allow the door to open because it believes there is still water in the drum.

I recommend contacting a technician to investigate and replace the pressure switch and its components if necessary.

Defective Timer

All automatic washing machines rely on a timer to operate. Over time, the timer can develop a fault or become defective. This could lead to the door remaining locked after the cycle has completed.

This is another part best left to a technician to investigate and replace for you.

Control Board Malfunction

Every function on your washing machine is controlled by the control board. If the control board malfunctions it could cause the door to remain locked.

In some cases, this is caused by a glitch or software error which can be cleared by performing a reset. If the reset doesn’t work, you will probably need to get the control board replaced.

Washing machine control boards are expensive items and easily damaged. Which is why I recommend getting a technician to investigate and replace it for you if it’s necessary.

Your technician will also be able to advise you on whether it’s worth spending the time and money replacing the control board or whether it will work out better to replace the washer with a newer model.

SEE ALSO: Washing Machine Door Not Locking? (this is why)

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes a washing machine door lock to stick?

The door lock on your washing machine can stick because; the child lock has been activated, the cycle has been interrupted due to a power cut or outage, the door lock has developed a fault, there’s a fault in the drainage system, the pressure switch is defective, the timer is defective or the control board has malfunctioned.

How can I open the door on my washing machine once it’s stuck?

If the door on your washing machine is stuck in the locked position, you can open it by using the manual door release tab (if your washer has one), sliding a credit card under the door and flipping the catch, hitting the lock area with the palm of your hand or feeding fishing line around the door and pulling from opposite the lock area.

How long does a washing machine lock remain in force after the cycle has completed?

It typically takes around 2 minutes for the door lock on a washing machine to deactivate after the cycle has completed.

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