Where Is A Washing Machine’s Filter?

If your laundry comes out of a wash cycle wetter than usual one of the main causes is a blockage in the drainage system. If you ask for any advice from someone in the know they’ll tell you to first check and clean the drain filter.

Now, I’m not saying that’s bad advice, on the contrary, it’s great advice as long as you know where the drain filter is located on your washing machine.

If you don’t have any idea where the drain filter is, keep reading. In this article I will help you to identify where the drain filter is located, how to access it, how to clean it and how often it should be cleaned.

Where Is The Drain Filter On A Washing Machine?

Pretty much all front loading washing machines have a drain filter and it is typically located at the bottom front of the washer. The drain filter will either be visible or hidden behind a small flap or kick plate.

However, if you own a High Efficiency (HE) washing machine, there’s no need to look for the drain filter because there isn’t one. HE washers rely on a self-cleaning drain pump which saves you the bother of looking for and cleaning the drain filter.

Consult your user manual for model specific locations of the drain filter if applicable.

How To Access The Drain Filter On A Front Loader Washing Machine

Washing Machine Filter

Assuming your front loader does have a drain filter, you will need to check the front of the machine towards the bottom and look for either a circular cap or a small flap. If your washer has a small flap, open it and inside you’ll see a circular cap.

Unscrew this cap by turning it anti-clockwise and gently pull it out. Take care as there will almost certainly be water trapped inside the filter which will spill out as you unscrew it. 

I recommend placing a towel on the floor to soak up any stray water and place a shallow bowl or tray in front of the filter in case there’s a lot of water.

On some machines if the filter has never been removed, it may be stiff. Take care not to force it too hard as there could be something caught in the filter.

If this is the case, you will need to remove the main sump hose and get rid of the obstruction that way before you can remove the filter.

Cleaning The Filter

Once the filter has been removed from its housing, wash the filter under fast running water to remove any detritus that you may find. It might need a brief scrub with a soft bristled brush to remove some of the mess.

You should check inside the housing before replacing the filter for any obstructions which will need to be removed. You should also turn the impeller using fingertips to ensure the drain pump isn’t blocked or damaged.

Once the filter is clean it can be replaced into the housing and secured by turning clockwise until it’s tight. Take care to not overtighten, but it needs to be tight enough to prevent any leaking.

How To Access The Drain Filter On A Top Loading Washing Machine

top loading washing machine drum

Modern top loader washing machines (made after 2001) don’t have drain filters. They rely on a more powerful drain pump coupled with larger drain holes.

If you own an older top loading washing machine, the drain filter is typically located at the bottom of the drum underneath the agitator. Or sometimes in the middle of the agitator, on the top rim of the tub or at the end of the drain hose.

Cleaning The Filter On A Top Loader

Once you have located the filter on your top loader washing machine, you should remove it and use a paper kitchen towel to remove any visible detritus.

Then fill a bucket with enough hot water to cover the filter and add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. Leave the filter to soak in this solution for around 15 minutes and then using an old toothbrush, gently scrub the filter to remove any trapped lint or other debris.

Scrub the inside of the agitator using the toothbrush dipped in the cleaning solution. Then replace the filter and agitator.

Cleaning A Fixed Mesh Or Water Pump Filter

If your washer has a fixed mesh or water pump filter, you can use a damp cloth or paper kitchen towel to wipe any lint away and then using a soft bristled brush dipped in vinegar scrub the mesh gently.

How Often Should The Drain Filter Be Cleaned?

The frequency with which the filter should be cleaned varies depending on the type of washing machine you own.

  • Front Loaders (common in the UK)
    Front loader washing machines should have the filter removed and cleaned at least once a month.
  • Top Loaders (common in US & Canada)
    If you own an older top loader which has a removable filter, it should be cleaned at least once every 3 months. Modern front loaders tend to not have a removable filter and typically don’t need cleaning apart from a regular hot service wash.

Why Do Washing Machines Have Filters?

buttons on a person's hand

If the drain pump on a washing machine gets blocked it can be very detrimental to the machine. It will stop the machine from draining any wastewater away and eventually cause major mechanical issues.

The drain filter is there to protect the drain pump and prevent it from becoming blocked. Often called a lint filter, the drain filter traps; 

  • Lint
  • Fibres
  • Threads
  • Coins
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Buttons
  • Hair Pins
  • And All Manner Of Debris

If any of these items were to make it to the drain pump they could cause serious damage to the pump and eventually the washer’s motor as well.

SEE ALSO: Washing Machine Filter Full Of Water? (here’s what you need to know)

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all washing machines have filters?

All front loader washing machines have a drain filter and all older top loaders also have a drain filter. However, top loaders made after 2001 tend to not have a drain filter. They rely on a more powerful drain pump and larger drain holes.

How do I know where my top loader washing machine filter is?

If you own an older top loader washing machine the filter will be located either at the bottom of the drum underneath the agitator, in the middle of the agitator, on the top rim of the tub or at the end of the drain hose. However, modern top loaders typically don’t have a drain filter and rely on a more powerful drain pump and larger drain holes.

How do I know where my front loader washing machine filter is?

The filter on a front loader washing machine is typically located on the front at the bottom behind a flap or kick plate.

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