5 Steps To Opening A Stuck Washing Machine Door (Even Without Power)7 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 cut. 

To open a stuck washing machine door (even without power), follow these steps: First, lay down dry towels and drain any water. Turn the machine off and wait for two minutes to reset the thermal release. 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.

Within this article, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step methods to manually open your stuck washing machine door. I ensure your safety but also provide first-hand photos of me demonstrating each step to make this guide as effective as possible. 

Why your washing machine door 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 handle is loose. I’m going to show you how to release the stuck door but if the problem persists, you may need to replace the lock itself. 

A power cut 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. 

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.

Lastly, 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! To do so, lay down towels in front of the door and drain the water. The drain hose is on the back of the unit, and many units also have a drain hose underneath the front panel. 

5 ways to Open a stuck washing machine door

Here are the most effective ways of opening a stuck washing machine door. I’ve started with the easiest.

1. Simply wait a few minutes!

Most modern washing machines use a thermal lock which is basically a safety delay mechanism. This often happens after a power cut. 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 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

Unbeknown to many homeowners, some washing machines have a manual door release latch located just next to the filter, beneath the door. It’s also known as an emergency release mechanism.

I know that Indesit machines do have this feature, but my own (newish) Samsung washing machine does not. 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. Normally the panel can simply be wiggled off using your hands. If it’s stuck or too tight, you can use a butter knife to help prise it off. 

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

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.

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. 

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. 

what causes a washing machine to lose power?

A sudden loss of power is alarming and inconvenient, especially if you have a load of laundry in your washing machine. Let’s look at some of 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: Most washers have a door switch that prevents it from starting when the door is open. Faulty door switches can cause your machine to not receive power or malfunction.
  • Malfunctioning motor: The motor powers the washing machine’s drum. If it’s faulty or worn out, your unit may not receive enough power. Problems with the motor typically require professional diagnosis and repair.
  • Overheating: Washing machines can reach high temperatures. If your unit overheats, it may shut down to prevent unnecessary damage. Overheating can occur due to clogged lint filters, blocked vents, or malfunctioning sensors. Routine maintenance, cleaning, and proper care may prevent these issues.

How to Prevent a Washing Machine Door From Locking

A locked washing machine door is frustrating, inconvenient, and unnecessary. Luckily, there are preventative measures you can take to avoid this issue. Let’s take a look at some of the tips you can use to prevent your unit’s door from locking.

Avoid Overloading

Overloading a washing machine is likely to cause the door to lock. Heavy loads place additional stress on the door, causing it to become misaligned or damaged. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the maximum load capacity and avoid putting too many items in one cycle.

Keep Your Machine Level

The door can become misaligned or locked if the machine isn’t level. Ensure your washer is on level ground and stable to avoid this issue. You can use a level tool for additional accuracy.

Don’t Slam the Door

Slamming the washing door or using excessive force can damage the latch mechanism, causing it to become locked or stuck. Close the door gently and ensure it’s secure before starting a cycle to avoid any problems.

Keep the Door Seal Clean

Dirt, soap residue, and other debris can build up on the door seal, causing it to stick or become misaligned. To prevent this, clean the door seal regularly with mild detergent and a damp cloth. This will help the door close properly, and prevent it from locking or wearing out.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Don’t forget routine maintenance! Regular washing machine maintenance can help reduce the chance of a locked door. Maintenance includes cleaning the filters, inspecting the hoses for leaks, and lubricating moving parts. This will also help your machine work smoothly for longer periods.