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DIY: How to Open a Locked Washing Machine

DIY: How to Open a Locked Washing Machine

Locked front-load washing machine

It can be very frustrating to find your washer is locked, and you can't open it by pulling the door open as usual. What's worse is when there is still water inside the drum and opening the door water will cause water to flow everywhere. To avoid this messy situation, here are some steps that will help you if this happens with your washer.

DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that not all models and brands are the same, and many models do not offer any solutions that you can do yourself. Read through these tips carefully before starting any work on your washer, and if it does not apply to your model, you will need to reach out to a professional technician.

Fix 1. Unplug the Machine to Reset

Most top-load washing machines have a lid lock that is heat activated. If the lid is locked, simply unplug the washer from its power source. Wait about 10 minutes, and see if the lid has unlocked itself. If the lid is still locked, you'll need to have the washer serviced to determine the exact cause of the failure. Latch assembly replacement may be needed, or in some cases it could be control related. 

Fix 2. Service a Machine with Movable Handle

If the quick fix in step one hasn't worked, try servicing the machine. For safety reasons, unplug the appliance before service. If your washer has a handle that actually lifts when you open the door, the latch can be released. You'll need a string or small gauge wire, long enough to wrap around the entire door.

Slide the string or wire under the door edge starting on the latch side, keeping hold of each end of the string. Rotate the wire so you're able to pull the ends toward the hinge side of the door. Pull the string by both ends toward the hinge side until the latch is released and door pops open. 

Locked Kenmore washer

Fix 3. Service a Non-Movable Door Handle

Front-load with a non-movable door handle can be a bit trickier; on these models the latch is recessed and can only be manually released on some models by accessing the actual latch. To access the latch, unplug the power supply. If there is water showing above the door line it must be drained prior to this process (lowering the drain hose or using the cancel drain button where applicable,) from the washer.

First remove the lower access panel. You will need to wear protective gloves and arm protection performing this task. Reach up from the access area to the latch assembly and pull the latch to release the door. It's recommended to replace the door latch assembly if this has occurred. 

Fix 4. Check the Entire Door Assembly

Many models don't have a means of releasing the door latch without some disassembly. See your owner's manual and/or parts breakdown to determine the best method for this task.

Keep in mind that most door latch failures are normally the result of a component failure and will need to be diagnosed to determine exact cause. Contact a professional technician if you're uncertain or not confident to perform these diagnoses or repairs.