How to Fix an Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe

Kelly Schuler

The reason washing machine drainpipes overflow is because they are clogged with debris. Lint, dirt and clothing fibers find their way down the drain from the washer and collect on rough surfaces inside the drainpipe.

When your washing overflows, it can seem like Niagara Falls is flowing into your home.

When enough of this debris has collected in one spot, it forms a dam inside the pipe and blocks the water flow. The water then follows the path of least resistance and ends up coming out of the drainpipe and all over your floor. There are several ways to remove the debris and fix the overflowing washing machine drainpipe. Chemical drain cleaners, water pressure devices and drain machines are the most common ways to clear drainpipe blockages.

  1. Pour the recommended amount of drain cleaner in the washing machine’s drainpipe. Wait the directed amount of time, and then run the washing machine with a full load to confirm the drain is open. Use a long plastic funnel to pour the liquid drain cleaner if you cannot easily reach the drainpipe with the container. Wash the funnel with clean water for several minutes to decontaminate.

  2. Connect a drain bladder to a garden hose. Insert the bladder and hose as far down the washing machine stand pipe as you can. Connect the other end of the garden hose to a hose bibb faucet. Turn the water faucet on. You will begin to hear a humming noise coming from the bladder--this humming sound is normal. A low-pitched humming sound means the drain is clogged and under pressure. When the drain is open and the water is flowing freely, the humming sound, or vibration, will have a higher pitch. Turn the faucet off, wait a few minutes for the water pressure to drain out, and the bladder to retract to its nominal size. Remove the bladder and hose. Run a full load of clothes through the wash to make sure the drain is fixed.

  3. Position a drain machine where it will be comfortable to operate; higher is better in most cases. Insert the drain cleaning cable into the washing machine drain by hand until you feel resistance. Turn the machine on and (following the manufacturer’s instructions) begin to feed the cable into the drain. Run the full amount of cable that comes with the machine in and out of the drain. Run a full load of laundry, and make sure the drain is open. If the washing machine drain is still overflowing, run the full amount of cable again. If the drain does not flow freely after that, you may need to consider calling a professional.


When you are working with a mechanical drain machine, cover the working area at least 3 feet from the pipe with drop cloths or newspaper.


Follow all manufacturers’ instructions when using a chemical drain-cleaning product. Do not use the same funnel for any food preparation or potable water. Wear heavy rubber gloves and eye protection when fixing a drain.