3 ways to unlock a washing machine door

3 ways to unlock a washing machine door
3 ways to unlock a washing machine door

If the power went out, the handle broke, or the door is simply stuck, you will need to open your washing machine door to retrieve your clothes before they go moldy! Start by spreading out a few towels and use a bucket or basin to catch the water that runs out. Then if you have a manual lock, wrap some fishing line or nylon string around the door to pop the lock. If you have an electronic lock, you will need to pry up the bottom panel and pull the tab attached to the lock. Always switch off your machine and unplug it when working on it so as not to electrocute yourself!


Method 1 of 3: Avoid splashing on a front-loading machine

Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 1

Step 1. Lay out towels under the machine

If your washing machine has stopped working or you try to open the door halfway through, place 4-5 dry towels underneath to soak up the water that will inevitably overflow when you open the door.

  • If you are using a top loading machine, skip to the next method. You don't have to worry about leaking water, as none of the solutions offered involve tipping your washing machine.
  • If your machine is empty or not yet filled with water, you can also skip this method.
Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 2

Step 2. Place a large pot or container in front of the door

If there is a lot of water in your washing machine, towels will not be enough. Take a few large pots, buckets or plastic containers and place them under the machine. You probably won't be able to catch all of the water, but at least you will be able to prevent most of it from spilling onto the ground.


you can elevate the machine with wood blocks or bricks to tilt the door if you want. In this case, be very careful, because if the machine tilts too much, you will have a large appliance that will fall to the ground. In general, it is best to wash off the water afterwards.

Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 3

Step 3. Remove the drain hose and empty the water into a bucket

Go to the back of your washing machine and locate the waste line. This is the pipe that does not connect to the hot and cold water pipes on the wall. Unscrew it by turning it counterclockwise or simply pull it out of the joint. Keep it upright before carefully lowering it into a bucket that is lower than the door of your machine. Most of the water will flow into the bucket.

  • This method will probably not work if your exhaust line is blocked or if the machine settings are locked in the middle of the cycle.
  • The door will unlock when the machine is empty. Some devices automatically lock when there is a lot of water inside.
Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 4

Step 4. Drain the water through the filter if there is one

If you have a filter, pry off its cover using a flathead screwdriver or by hand. Lift the machine and place a bucket under it. Put your hand into the opening where the cover was and find the filter cap. Turn it counterclockwise to detach the filter and let the water flow into the bucket.

  • Be careful not to put your feet or hands under the machine when it is raised.
  • You can use a brick or block of wood to lift the machine up and rest it on something stable.
  • Lifting the machine can be quite dangerous. If it is too heavy for you to lift on your own, it is best to deal with the problem with the water in the drum.

Method 2 of 3: Open a manual lock

Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 5

Step 1. Turn off the machine and unplug it

If you are in the middle of a cycle, turn the dial or press the button to pause or end the cycle. Wait 5-6 seconds to see if the door unlocks. If not, turn off the machine by pressing the button or turning the dial all the way to the off position and unplug the plug.


check your manual to see if the door locks manually or electronically. Generally speaking, the older your machine, the more likely it is to have a manual lock.

Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 6

Step 2. Wait 5 minutes, then try to pull the handle

With some manual locks, the latch automatically releases after the machine has been turned off for more than 5 minutes. Once the plug has been disconnected, wait a few minutes. Then try to open the door by pulling the handle.

  • This is the solution for most top load washing machines. On these devices, the locks are usually heat activated and only lock when the machine is running.
  • This feature is designed to give you access to your wet clothes even in the event of a power outage.
  • If your washing machine is old and doesn't have a digital display, the lock is probably manual. If you see a hook or a ridge on the part that goes into the lock, it is most likely a manual machine.
Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 7

Step 3. Gently tap the handle with your open palm

If your door still won't unlock, try loosening the lock with the machine turned off. Use your open palm to gently tap on the handle, just above the location of the lock. On some manual locks, this is enough to put them in the unlocked position.

  • You do not have to hit the machine hard enough to injure yourself or damage the door. A little vibration and sudden pressure should be enough if the door can be unlocked in this way.
  • This method is less likely to work on a top loading machine because the lock hooks into a loop inside the machine.
Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 8

Step 4. Wrap a fishing line around the door seal

Take a 25-50cm nylon string or spool of fishing line and slide it through the joint where the door touches the machine frame at the latch. Unwind the string or fishing line all around the door. Tie a knot in the end of the string once you have wrapped it completely.

  • If the handle seems loose, this is the best way to open the door. Sometimes a loose handle cannot trigger the lock to open because it is not connected to it.
  • You need to tie the twine on the side of the machine that is opposite the lock.
  • If you are using a top loading machine, move it away from the wall. Go behind and loop the fishing line around the joint where the cover closes. Attach it to the rear side of the machine.
Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 9

Step 5. Pull the fishing line

Grasp the fishing line or nylon string by the knot. Carefully pull it away from the door at an angle parallel to the front of the machine. Continue to apply tension until you hear a click. Then hold the string in place with your non-dominant hand and pull on the handle to open the door.

  • By doing this, you physically dislodge the lock from the slot where it is stuck.
  • If that doesn't work, instead use an old gift card or a credit card that you slide into the joint. Push it into the lock to open it.
  • On a top loading machine, pull the twine parallel to the cover towards the rear of the machine.

Method 3 of 3: Unlock an electronic lock

Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 10

Step 1. Press Pause or Start

It might seem obvious, but you might not have pressed the Pause button to stop the wash cycle. Try to press it down and wait 1 to 2 minutes to see if the door unlocks. Electronic locks do not open when a cycle is in progress, so first try to see if pausing the cycle fixes the problem.

  • On some machines, the Start button functions as a Pause button when a cycle is in progress.
  • If your machine is recent and has a digital display, chances are your lock is electronic.
Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 11

Step 2. Turn off the machine and unplug it

If pausing the cycle does not unlock the door, turn off the machine. Then unplug it and wait 5-10 minutes. Try to pull the handle again to see if the door opens.

  • This is the most common solution for top loading machines. Typically, this type of washing machine relies on a heat activated sensor that locks the door when a cycle is in progress. That's why it usually takes a few seconds for them to unlock when you pause them.
  • Like manual machines, some electronic locks automatically go into the unlocked position after 5-10 minutes so you can retrieve your clothes in the event of a power failure.
Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 12

Step 3. Use a flathead screwdriver

If you have a front-loading machine, slide a flathead screwdriver into the bottom panel gasket. At the bottom on the front side you will find a 5 to 15 cm panel. Slide a flathead screwdriver from the right between the frame and this bottom panel.

You can drive in the screwdriver from the left side if you want. It doesn't really matter as long as you don't start in the middle. If you do, you risk cracking the panel as the tension is higher in the center


you can use a kitchen knife or a dull butter knife if you don't have a flathead screwdriver. Remember that the knife can bend.

Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 13

Step 4. Pull the screwdriver to detach the panel

With the head of the screwdriver between the two panels, slide the handle upward with light pressure. Proceed slowly so as not to bend or break the panel. Once the right side is removed, do the same on the left side.

If that doesn't work, check the user manual. There may be a switch or latch under your machine that is specifically used to remove this panel

Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 14

Step 5. Look for the protruding plastic tab

After setting the bottom panel aside, look at the top of the section you removed if you see a small plastic tab sticking out of the machine. This tab is usually found directly under the door handle latch and is often color coded to make it easy to find.

This tab is directly connected to the lock. It is a safety measure designed to manually unlock the electronic lock on the machine in case the microcontroller fails

Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 15

Step 6. Pull the tab down while opening the door

Once you find the tab, grab it between your thumb and forefinger. Pull it lightly to lower it 3 to 8 cm. Once the tab is down, pull on your door handle to open it.

If your door still won't open, contact a washing machine repair company. There may be a physical defect in the lock that is preventing it from unlocking

Unlock a Washing Machine Door Step 16

Step 7. Unscrew the bolts on the back

If you are using a top load washing machine, rotate it to gain access to the rear panel. Look for 3 or 4 screws (or bolts) placed at the same height as the door. Unscrew them with a wrench, screwdriver or water pump pliers and remove them. Next, peel off the entire top of the machine by lifting it up from the top panel.

If unplugging the machine doesn't solve the problem on your top loader, it's probably because the lock is magnetic. This phenomenon is common on electronic machines. If the lock is magnetic, you will not be able to pry it open or unlock it. You will need to peel off the entire panel


  • If you live in rental accommodation, contact your landlord. He will know more about the machine and may have dealt with this problem before.
  • Contact a washing machine repair company if you still cannot open the door.

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