Washing Machine Door Won’t Open At End Of Cycle? (here’s why & what to do)

Not being able to open the door on the washing machine after the cycle has completed can be very annoying. Your first thought might be to force the door using your strength.

We would advise against this though as that could cause more problems including breaking the door, door handle, hinges or some internal component.

To find out the possible causes why the washing machine door won’t open and the best ways to solve this annoying problem, keep reading.

Why Won’t The Washing Machine Door Open After The Cycle Has Finished?

There are a few reasons why the door on the washing machine won’t open after the cycle has completed. They include;

Why The Door Won’t OpenWhat To Do
Water in the drumCheck the drain hose, filter and drain pump
Drum too hotWait for the thermal interlock to cool down
Door lock stuckAccess the door lock by removing the top of the washer
Door hinges damagedContact a technician
Defective pressure switchContact a technician
Power failureCheck the mains power, cable, plug, socket, circuit breaker and reset the washer once power has been re-established
Defective Control BoardContact a technician
Overloaded drumEnsure the drum isn’t more than ¾ full
Imbalanced loadEvenly distribute the laundry in the drum

The Cycle Hasn’t Completed

washing machine drum

Modern washing machines have safety features that prevent the door from opening until the cycle is completed. This can be because of;

  • Water In The Drum
  • The Drum Is Too Hot

Water In The Drum

If there’s water remaining in the drum, the door lock mechanism won’t release which prevents the door from opening. This can have several causes including the cycle hasn’t completed or more likely, there’s a problem with drainage.

You should check the drain hose for any twists or kinks and straighten the hose. This should be enough to clear the water if you run another spin/drain cycle.

Blocked Filter

If the drain hose isn’t twisted and doesn’t have a blockage, it could be the filter that’s blocked. Consult your user manual for the location of the filter on your appliance.

On most front loaders the filter is located at the bottom front right hand side of the appliance, behind a small flap.

Defective Drain Pump

If the drain pump is defective, there could still be water in the drum even after the cycle has completed. This will prevent the door from opening.

If you suspect the problem is the drain pump, we recommend contacting an expert to investigate and fix this issue for you.

How To Drain The Washing Machine

The filter itself will usually twist out once you unscrew the cap (located under the flap on the front of the appliance). Take care because there’s a strong possibility of the drum still being full of water or at least having a residue.

It’s a good idea to place a towel on the floor to soak up any water that escapes from the filter as you undo it. If you have a shallow dish or tray you should also place this in front of the filter to catch any water that runs from the filter.

You might need to regulate the water flow by partially opening the filter, filling the dish, then closing the filter before emptying the bowl and starting again. Once all of the water has been removed check the filter for any blockages like;

  • Coins
  • Buttons
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • And Other Foreign Bodies

Some washing machines have a drain hose which is located beside the filter. If your washer has a drain hose all you need to do is, unclip it from its place. Place the end into a tray/jug/pan and remove the cap so that the water can drain.

Once all of the water has drained from the appliance, replace the cap and return the drain hose back into place.

Draining The Washing Machine (an alternative way)

washing machine drain hose

If the washing machine is full of water it will take a long time to drain it using the filter or filter drain hose. Alternatively you could pull the machine away from the wall. Take care as it will be heavier than usual due to the weight of the water.

You can then place the drain hose lower than the drum and into a bucket. If there is a clog in the drain hose, it could take some time to drain all of the water.

Once all of the water has drained out of the drum you should be able to open the door and remove your laundry. 

The Drum Is Too Hot (Thermal Interlock)

On many modern appliances, after a hot (60°C or 90°C) wash, the thermal interlock in the washing machine will not allow the door to open. You will need to allow a few minutes to pass until the thermal interlock detects it’s safe for the door to be opened.

The thermal interlock is a small device that expands as it heats up and contracts as it cools down. The door will not open until the thermal interlock has cooled sufficiently.

The thermal interlock is likely to remain hot for longer if you have run a few hot washes consecutively or in a short time.

The Door Is Jammed

The washing machine door can become jammed for a number of reasons. These include;

  • The Lock Is Stuck
    If the lock is stuck the door handle will be stiff and difficult to move. This would most likely indicate that the thermal interlock is stuck.
  • The Handle Is Broken
    If the handle is loose it usually indicates that the lock is OK and it’s the handle that’s broken.

Opening A Stuck Washing Machine Door

The door handles on washing machines are fragile and can become damaged easily. You should never force the door open. To open the door just wrap a thin cord or string around the door frame and pull to the side opposite the lock.

This should enable you to move the hook and open the door. If this doesn’t work you’ll need to unscrew the top of the washing machine and remove it.

Then locate the back of the door catch and push it to release the door. This will enable you to remove the laundry before calling in an expert to fix the door catch.

Damaged Hinges

It is possible that the hinges on the door of your washing machine could become damaged. If the hinges are damaged it could prevent the door from opening.

If this is the problem, you’ll need to dismantle the panels on the washing machine to gain access to the hinges from inside. We recommend contacting a technician to do this for you.

Defective Pressure Switch

person changing the program on washing machine

In some cases, the door will not open after the cycle has finished because the pressure switch is defective. The pressure switch works by detecting the difference in the pressure created when the drum is empty and when it’s full of water.

If the switch becomes defective, the control board doesn’t receive the message that the water has all gone. This means the control board will not allow the door mechanism to unlock.

It’s sometimes possible to clear this problem by disconnecting the washing machine from the power supply for 10 to 15 minutes. If this doesn’t work and you own a modern appliance you will need to contact a technician to repair this for you.

This is because the pressure switch on a modern washer is digital and needs a technician to work on it. Older appliances had manual pressure switches that could be replaced by anyone with a few basic DIY skills.

Power Outage

If there is a power outage during the wash cycle, it can cause the door to stay locked. Once the power has been restored, you may need to reset the washer before the door lock will open.

Check The Cable/Connections

If the power hasn’t been disrupted to your home, check the power cord, plug, socket and circuit breaker to ensure your washer has power.

Defective Control Board

If you have checked all of the possibilities above, the problem could be that the control board has developed a fault. The control board, once defective, could cause any number of problems, one of which is the door will not open.

If you suspect the issue is the control board, we recommend contacting an expert to investigate and solve this problem for you.

Regular Maintenance Can Prevent Future Door Problems

open washing machine door

Once you have solved the problem of the door not opening, it’s good practice to perform regular maintenance on your washer. You should run a hot (90°C) service wash at least once a month. 

This will prevent the buildup of detergent residue, mildew and mould spores and limescale. Which, in turn, prevents the washer or your laundry from smelling musty or mouldy.

You should also clean the rubber gasket as well as the detergent drawer using a scrubbing brush or toothbrush. The outside of the washer should also be wiped with a solution of white vinegar and water.

The filter should also be cleaned at the same time, place a towel onto the floor first to soak up any water that’s in the filter.

After your washer has been used, you should leave the door slightly open to allow it to dry out. This will prevent any mould or mildew forming.

Other Things To Consider

Another thing that can prevent the door from opening is if the drum is overloaded. When the drum is overloaded it adds extra pressure on the door and door lock. This could make it difficult to open.

You should always follow the manufacturer’s advice which can be found in your user manual. Generally speaking, the drum should be loaded no more than ¾ full. For example, an 8 kg washing machine should never be filled with more than 6 kg of dry laundry.

If you don’t have a scale handy, you should only fill the drum to ¾ full. This means leaving a gap above the laundry in the drum of at least ¼ high at the top of the drum.

Another issue that could cause the washing machine door to remain stuck shut, is an imbalanced load. If the load in the drum is imbalanced it could prevent the cycle from completing, which could lead to the door remaining stuck shut.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes a washing machine door not to open?

If the door on the washing machine won’t open, it could be caused by a defective drain pump, a blocked drain hose, a blocked filter, a defective pressure switch, a faulty thermal interlock, a damaged door, damaged hinges, a power outage or a defective control board.

Can damaged door hinges be replaced on a washing machine?

Yes, damaged door hinges can be replaced on a washing machine. This is a job we recommend getting a technician to do for you.

How long does it take to unlock the washing machine door?

It generally takes around 2 minutes for the door release to open on a washing machine. However, if you have run a hot wash or consecutive washes, the thermal interlock could overheat. This could take 15 to 20 minutes to cool down enough for the door to open.

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