How to find and clean the filter in your washing machine

Woman checking if the washing machine is broken
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Do you always remember to clean out the lint filter in your dryer? If so, gold star for you! Now here’s a harder question. Do you clean out the filter in your washing machine?

Do you even know where it is?

If you didn’t even know the filter exists or that it needs to be maintained, you’re not alone.

The filter might be a less obvious washing machine component, but it fulfills a similar function as the dryer’s lint trap — collecting lint, hair and other debris. And it should be cleaned every one to three months, Better Homes and Gardens says. Here’s how to find and clean the washing machine filter.

Inspecting washing machine's dirty clogged drain pump filter close up
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MORE: Why you should put a wet wipe in the washing machine with your laundry

Locate Your Filter

The filter’s location depends on what type of washing machine you own.

For front-loading machines (or older model top-loading ones), you’ll probably find it on the outside of the machine in the right bottom corner, behind a small circular or rectangular door or cover.

For a top-loading machine, the filter is likely inside the washer underneath the agitator (the ribbed component in the middle that rotates your clothes around).

The latest high-efficiency machines typically don’t have a filter.

Some filters are also located near where the drainage hose ends, which is likely on the back of the machine.

Can’t find it? Check your washing machine’s manual, which can probably be found online by searching for the manufacturer or going to a site like ManualsOnline. You may need your machine’s serial number, which is often located inside the door or somewhere in the back of the machine.

Remove Your Filter

Always turn off and unplug the washing machine before you set out to clean the filter. (This general safety practice goes for cleaning any and all appliances.) Put down an old towel on the floor in front of the washing machine, since the filter might be full of water when you pull it out.

If the filter is on the outside of the machine, remove it by gripping the edge and pulling. You may need a screwdriver to pry it off. If the filter is under the agitator, you’ll have to remove the agitator.

With some models, you can take off the cap, reach down into the shaft and unscrew the agitator from the bottom of the machine. Then remove the filter cover that’s beneath it.

MORE: Did You Know You Should Regularly Clean Your Washing Machine? Here’s How

Woman washing filter with water in bathroom sink at home.
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Clean The Filter

Pull out the filter from its casing. If dried detergent or lint has made it sticky, you may need to wiggle and twist it a little bit until it comes out. Wipe the filter’s screen with a dry paper towel to remove lint and debris.

For residue that’s hard to remove, dip a soft bristle brush (or an old toothbrush or even cotton swabs) into a solution of mild dish soap and warm water and scour it off. You could also use a solution of half water and half distilled vinegar.

If you can remove the screen from the filter, soak it in hot water for 10 minutes. If not, run the filter under a faucet with hot water until all the debris is gone. Then dry it and put everything back in place.

If you prefer, you can watch “everyone’s grandmother” @brunchwithbabs show you how to do this in a viral TikTok video:

@brunchwithbabsHave you ever cleaned your washing machine filter? If you haven’t you may want to! You should be cleaning your filter at least 4 times per year♬ original sound – everyone’s grandmother

Now you know how to perform this vital piece of home maintenance. Get to it!

Cleaning & Organization, Home, Tips & Advice
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About the Author
Jennifer Graham Kizer
Jennifer Graham Kizer has written features and essays for over a dozen magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Health, Parents, Parenting, Redbook and TV Guide.

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