How to Free Items Stuck in a Washer Tub


Motion and agitation during a washing machine's wash cycle helps clean that load of laundry; a spin cycle afterward induces yet more motion to help rid the clothes of excess water. The same wash and spin cycles responsible for cleaning sometimes leave your washables stuck around or under the agitator, or worse yet, in knots involving several items. While cutting the laundry out of the washer is a last resort, disassembling the agitator helps free stuck items, allowing access to the agitator shaft that sometimes catches loose fibers or fabrics and traps them inside the washer.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Unplug the washing machine. Open the washing machine and remove all of the items that come free easily, setting them aside.

  • Tug gently on each corner of one of the items stuck in the washer tub to determine if other clothes are knotted or tangled with it; sometimes shirt sleeves, pant legs or bra straps twist and wrap around other items, creating a knot involving several items within the load. Work knots or tangles free to remove as many of the caught items as possible.

  • Shine a flashlight toward the bottom of the agitator assembly to determine the nature of the problem. In some cases, part of one item has wrapped itself several times around the agitator shaft beneath the agitator; in other cases, a bra or sweater may have slid down over the top of the agitator, becoming trapped beneath the agitator. Lift or unwrap the stuck item by tugging it gently away from the agitator shaft.

  • Remove the fabric softener dispenser, if it's mounted atop the agitator, if the items are still stuck in the washer. Press the release tabs or squeeze the sides of the dispenser to lift it out; the exact means varies by model. Remove the agitator cap by twisting or lifting it off. Some models have a bolt or screw holding the cap in place, which requires an adjustable wrench or Phillips screwdriver to remove. Set the agitator cap aside.

  • Lift the agitator out of the washer basin. If it is difficult to remove, rock it back and forth as you pull upward until it comes out of the washer. Set the agitator aside.

  • Remove the caught items from the agitator shaft. Shine the flashlight around the shaft to ensure there are no stray threads or fibers stuck around it; if there are, pull them all away.

  • Replace the agitator shaft and reassemble the structure, tightening any bolt or screw used to hold it in place. Replace the agitator cap and fabric softener dispenser.

Tips & Warnings

  • A bag designed for washing lingerie or delicates helps prevent some items from becoming trapped or tangled in the washer. Sweaters, bras and long socks all stand less chance of tangling if washed in such a bag.
  • Avoid placing items with long fringe or loose, frayed ends in the washing machine, because those stray fibers may become caught around the agitator shaft.

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