How to Remove & Replace A Washing Machine’s Drum Paddle

The drum paddles or drum lifters in your front loading washing machine are a vital part of the wash process. They help direct the flow of water through the drum as well as lifting and separating the clothes during the wash cycle.

If you notice that one of the drum paddles is damaged or broken, you will need to remove and replace it with a new paddle as soon as possible to prevent damage to your laundry and ensure the washer is working properly.

Keep reading to find out how to remove and replace the drum paddles in your washing machine.

Why Has The Drum Paddle Become Damaged Or Broken?

person looking at washing machine

There are two main reasons why the drum paddles in a washing machine break which are;

Items Placed In The Drum That Shouldn’t Be Put In

It’s an unfortunate fact that many of us wash items in our washing machines that shouldn’t be put in the drum. The main culprit when it comes to causing damage to the drum paddles are shoes or trainers.

If you were to contact the manufacturer they will tell you that a washing machine is designed to wash clothes and not for shoes. However, it’s not only shoes that can damage the paddles, any heavy items like plastic bath mats and other non-clothes items.

The Plastic Paddle Has Degraded Over Time

All plastic will degrade at some point and plastic drum paddles are subjected to heat, wet and around 6-8 kg of laundry colliding into them every time you use your washer. All it takes is a stray zip or clasp to catch on the edge of the paddle and the damage has started.

This will then get worse with every use until the damage is visible or your favourite sweater has been snagged.

Incorrectly Fitted Paddle

There is a third reason which is that the paddle wasn’t fitted properly and has come loose. However, this is unlikely in a brand new washer that is put through lots of tests for quality control before being shipped to the retailer.

If you have already replaced a drum paddle in the past and it has broken again, then it’s likely that you never fitted correctly. This could lead to it becoming loose or damaged, but it’s highly unlikely to have happened at the manufacturing plant.

Getting A Replacement Drum Paddle

All of the main washing machine manufacturers will supply you with a replacement paddle for their appliances. All you need to know is the model number and serial number of your appliance.

Depending on the make and model of your washer, a replacement drum paddle will cost anywhere between £5-£20. You can even buy them from third party sites like Amazon.

How Difficult Is It To Replace A Drum Paddle On A Washing Machine?

open washing machine door

Washing machine drum paddles come in three types which have different degrees of ease of fitting. The degree of difficulty depends on the make and model of your appliance.  Let’s go through each type and explain how to remove them.

Easily Replaced Drum Paddles

The easiest drum paddles to replace are secured using a simple clip or a single retaining screw. Those with a simple clip mechanism need to be flicked open with a flat headed screwdriver to simply release the clip.

The clip is typically located under the third hole in the paddle when looked at from the door end. As you push down on the clip with a screwdriver or similar pull the paddle forwards and it should come free.

Once the clip is released the paddle just slides off the drum and can be replaced with a new paddle that simply slides and clips into place. These types of paddle are incredibly easy to remove and replace but don’t often get damaged and therefore, don’t often need replacing.

Slightly More Difficult to Replace Drum Paddles

The middle of the road when it comes to ease of replacement paddles are typically fixed in place with locking tabs or locking tabs and a single screw. You can usually access the tabs from inside the drum without any major difficulty.

However, these types are also the ones that are most often fitted incorrectly after replacing. Which often leads to them becoming damaged again quite quickly.

The problem is that unless you put the tab in correctly the paddle will come loose and break again. You really need a specialised tool to work the tabs properly.

More Difficult To Replace Paddles

Following on from these types of paddles are the types that have a retaining screw that can only be accessed via the sump hose at the bottom of the outer tub. 

These are more difficult because firstly; you need to dismantle some panels on the washer just to access the sump. Then secondly; you need to remove the sump hose, remove the retaining screw, replace the paddle, replace the retaining screw, then reseal the sump hose, reconnect the sump hose and replace the washer’s panelling.

Difficult To Replace Drum Paddles

Then we come to the really difficult to replace paddles which in all honesty, unless you’re a fully qualified washing machine technician, are best left to the experts. This is because they are held in place by two screws.

One screw is easily accessible from the front, and the second requires you to remove the top of the breather hose to access. 

Plus they’re not ordinary screws either, they’re Torx screws. So unless you have a set of Torx screwdrivers, you won’t even be able to unscrew the easy to access screw.

Can All Drum Paddles Be Replaced?

washing machine drum

After reading all of our advice on how to replace washing machine drum paddles, you might be wondering if they can all be replaced. It’s not always possible to replace the paddles on the drum on certain washing machines.

If the drum of your machine has stainless steel paddles (like those on Miele washers) they typically can’t be replaced. In some cases, even plastic paddles cannot be replaced, particularly on older models.

The best way to check if the drum paddles on your washing machine can be replaced is to contact the manufacturer and ask them. Or check out their spares section on their website.

Is It OK To Use A Washing Machine With Damaged Drum Paddles?

If one or more of the drum paddles on your washer are loose or damaged, you run the risk of damaging your clothes by using the machine. This is because underneath the paddles are a number of slots and holes which could potentially trap your clothes and cause them to rip or tear as the drum rotates.

Can You Use A Washer With A Missing Drum Paddle?

A person putting clothes into a washing machine

The paddle lifts the clothes as they rotate in the drum in order to force water and detergent through your clothes. If one of these paddles is missing, the clothes won’t get washed properly.

Added to which, a missing drum paddle exposes several holes and slots that your laundry could get caught in. This means that it’s highly likely that your laundry will get ripped, torn or damaged if you use the washer with a paddle missing.

What To Do If The Drum Paddle Can’t Be Replaced

If you notice a loose or damaged drum paddle on your washing machine, and you find out that it cannot be replaced, you might be wondering what you should do. Well, the only thing you can do is get a replacement washing machine.

Continuing to use a washer with a damaged and irreplaceable drum paddle will end up ruining some of your laundry.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the plastic things called in a washing machine drum?

The plastic things in a washing machine drum are called drum paddles or lifters. They are designed to lift your clothes off the drum and allow water and detergent to swirl all around them in the wash.

Why do my washing machine drum paddles keep breaking?

If the drum paddles on your washing machine keep breaking it is most likely that you are washing items in the machine that shouldn’t be put in there. Items like shoes, trainers or other heavy items like plastic bath mats.

Can you use a washing machine with a missing drum paddle?

It is not recommended that you use a washing machine that has a missing drum paddle. The drum paddle is designed to lift the clothes as they rotate in the drum in order to force the water and detergent through the items. Plus, if the paddle is missing it exposes holes and slots in the drum that could potentially catch on your laundry causing damage as it rotates in the drum.

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