5 Steps To Opening A Stuck Washing Machine Door (Even Without Power)6 min read

If your washing machine door is stuck, you may be concerned about ruining your laundry or even damaging the machine itself. Fortunately, there are a few easy methods to manually open a stuck washing machine door, even if the door is stuck due to a power outage. 

To open a stuck washing machine door (even without power), follow these steps: First, lay down dry towels and drain any water. Unplug the machine to reset the control board. If that doesn’t work, use the built-in door release system or try a credit card or nylon line to manually release the door latch.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step methods to manually open your stuck washing machine door. I provide first-hand photos of me demonstrating each step, and professional appliance repairman Andy has reviewed this article adding actionable, expert tips based on his 10 years of experience.

One of the biggest lesson I had to learn in appliance repair was: When a part is not moving, it’s probably because I’m missing something, a screw I missed, a hidden clip or some tip/trick I didn’t know about. I need to step away, put the hammer down and come back with a fresh mind. I can’t count the number of $100 peices of plastic I’ve needlessly broken due to impatience.

Andy Fulenchek – Professional Appliance Repairman & Owner Of Grace Appliance.

5 ways to Open a Stuck Washing Machine Door

I’ll start with the easiest and most likely methods to opening your stuck washing machine door. I have tried these methods with my own washing machine and whilst most methods work for me, not all of these methods will work for all machines. So I’d advise you to read until the end of the article before giving up! 

Note: if your machine is full of water, you should drain the water first.

If your machine has a spin only setting, this will also activate the drain pump at the same time. It is best to attempt to drain the water this way before manually draining. For top load washers, draining the water may not even be needed.

Andy Fulenchek – Professional Appliance Repairman & Owner Of Grace Appliance.

Lastly, safety first: Always remember to unplug a machine before carrying out any work. If your door handle on your washing machine is very stiff and won’t move the problem will be with the lock itself.

1. Simply wait a few minutes!

Some washing machines have a safety delay mechanism which can happen after an outage. This delay allows time for any residual heat or water within the machine to dissipate and reach safe levels. 

Once this delay expires, sensors within the machine’s control system assess the safety conditions, such as water levels, temperature, and drum motion. If these safety requirements are met, the door should unlock!

If this hasn’t happened, turn the machine off for five minutes and try again. Another method I’ve heard works is to press and hold the power button (or cancel/pause button) for around 10 seconds and the door lock releases.

Note: If you can’t access the power plug of your washer, you can also flip the power on the fuse panel for the laundry room. 

If this doesn’t work, try striking the door firmly to activate the lock. Make sure you hit the door where the catch is, and this may help to release the lock. 

2. Select a different washing machine cycle option

Sometimes when a washing machine door locks, this is because the machine thinks (perhaps incorrectly) that the cycle hasn’t been completed or there is standing water in there. Whilst this safety feature is useful, when it malfunctions it can cause door lock issues.

If you’re able to, try selecting the ‘spin’ cycle (centrifuging), let the cycle complete, and see if the door unlocks automatically. Some washers also have an ‘add garment’ light which shows when you can add to the laundry. If yours does that, try pausing the cycle whilst the light is on.

If this doesn’t work or you’re unable to turn your machine on, don’t worry, the rest of this article will help you!

Spin cycle

3. use the ‘secret’ manual release latch

Some washing machines have a manual door release latch located just next to the filter, beneath the door, also known as an emergency release mechanism.

Indesit machines have this feature, but my own (newish) Samsung washing machine doesn’t. So it’s worth checking – it’ll only take you a couple of minutes. 

First, remove the bottom panel of your washing machine. It’s the horizontal panel just beneath the door, which is also where you access the filter. Many models will require removing 2 – 4 1/4″ nuts to remove.

Here’s a picture showing the panel itself: 

Washing machine panel

Then look for a visible latch. Often it’s green or brightly colored. Pull the tab with one hand and open the door with the other until you hear a click. The door should open normally. You may need to move the latch up and down and fiddle around with the tab to get the door to open.

Here’s a picture showing what the little green tab looks like. Remember that yours might not be exactly where this image is – have a check around, sometimes they are closer to the filter.

Washing machine door latch

Many washers will employ a similar release but it will be located directly at the bottom of the door lock itself. This can be accessed by removing the top panel of the washer and by reaching your arm down toward the lock. Typically it’s a circular piece of plastic, round, roughly 3/4″ wide. Pulling down gently on this tab will manually unlock the door. This is a great video showing its location – either above or below the door lock.

Andy Fulenchek – Professional Appliance Repairman & Owner Of Grace Appliance.

4. manually activate the door hook

If your washing machine door still won’t open, the door hook is probably pushed towards the door in a ‘locked’ position. So the next step I’ll walk you through is to manually unhook the door latch.

Note: this will ONLY work for models with specific lock mechanisms, as the locking mechanism can be internal and impossible to reach.

There are two effective ways to manually activate the door hook: using some nylon line or using a credit card. 

Using Nylon Line

For the first method, you’ll need to find something, a strong line. Nylon lines, trimmer lines, or strong fishing lines are good ideas. 

Feed the line around the top of the door frame by pulling the line to the other side, and feed it around the rest of the door, whilst keeping the line tight. The idea here is to catch the hook with the line to dislodge it. 

Once the line is in position, tie a knot so that you’re creating a loop. Then pull firmly on the line and theoretically, this should activate the door lock. 

Here’s a photo of myself using a nylon line to open my washing machine door latch: 

Using a nylon line to open washing machine door

The credit card system

Another technique I’ve used in the past is using an old plastic card to push the door hook in. Your credit card will probably get bent and ruined using this method, so I’d advise you to use an old store card! 

Slide the credit card between the door and the frame of the washing machine. Depending on your machine, there may be a ridge between the door lock and the door frame. So it’ll definitely take a bit of wiggling and a bit of work to actually reach the lock with your credit card. 

To determine which method might work best, one can look up a picture of the door lock for their machine. This gives an idea of how the lock mechanism actuates and could be released.

Andy Fulenchek – Professional Appliance Repairman & Owner Of Grace Appliance.

But if you can work your way beyond the ridge and to the door lock, hopefully, the credit card system works. 

Using a credit card to open washing machine door

5. access the door lock from inside the washing machine

If you’re still unable to open your locked washing machine door, the final step I recommend (before breaking the door lock) is to access the lock from inside the washing machine. 

Note: this method is only effective if your washing machine handle is on the outside of your machine (most are). 

You’ll need to remove the top panel from the machine. From here, you should be able to see the washing machine door lock mechanism. It looks like a little metal hook. If your door handle was working, that metal part would move in and out. But what you’ll need to do here is use a screwdriver to manually open the door latch. 

You might find it easier to push the drum aside before doing so. 

Why Your Washing Machine Is Stuck: The Most Common Causes

Washing machine doors can become stuck due to mechanical faults or a power cut. My A/C unit often causes power cuts in my apartment and when my washing machine is in use, the door locks mid-cycle. I, therefore, know firsthand how annoying this problem is, but also how easy it is to fix! 

A broken handle or a jammed lock are the most common mechanical faults and a telltale sign is where the latch is loose. 

An outage will also cause a washing machine door to jam shut. Sometimes washing machines can cause power cuts due to an electrical overload or faulty wires/components. 

The electrical lock on your washing machine (the interlock mechanism) keeps the door locked during operation for safety reasons. When a power cut occurs mid-cycle, the lock may remain engaged and you’ll therefore need to manually disengage the lock. 

what causes a washing machine to lose power?

Here are the common causes behind a sudden loss of power in your washing machine.

  • Power outage: If your washing machine isn’t receiving electricity, it won’t work properly. Inspect the power outlet and circuit breaker to ensure they’re working correctly.
  • Faulty power cord: A faulty power cord can also cause your machine to suddenly lose power. The cord may be damaged, frayed, or loose, causing your unit to lose power. Inspect the cable for any visible damage or wear and tear. It should be replaced if it’s damaged.  
  • Problems with the door switch: If the power shorts out, it can cause issues where the control board will not power on.
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Hi, I'm Ed, and I run BuildFanatic! I enjoy providing the best possible information on a range of home improvement topics.

Andy Fulenchek
Owner at Grace Appliance | Website | + posts

Andy is a professional appliance repairman and business owner with years of hands-on experience. He co-authors and reviews appliance articles, ensuring accuracy and top-notch information for readers.

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