Why is Your Washing Machine Cutting Off Mid-Cycle? Find Out the Reasons and Fixes8 min read

So you put a load of dirty laundry in your washing machine, walked away, and returned, only to find your appliance has turned off without washing your clothes. You might assume your washer is busted, but there are actually simple troubleshooting steps you can run through.

The most common cause of washing machines suddenly cutting off mid-cycle is a faulty door sensor. When the washing machine incorrectly detects the door has opened, the machine turns off. Other likely causes are power issues, detergent build-up, or a faulty pump.  

Don’t panic if your washing machine isn’t working like it used to. Sudden disruptions and erratic behavior are common for washing machines. I’ll take you through the most common causes and actionable steps you can take to prevent your washing machine from cutting off again in the future. 

Andy Fulenchek, an appliance repair expert with 10+ years’ experience and the owner of Grace Appliance, has expert reviewed this article. He also runs this YouTube account. Look out for expert quotes throughout.

Why is your washing machine cutting off mid cycle? the most common cause

A faulty door lock is the most common reason for a machine to stop intermittently, especially during the spin cycle. Washing machines have a sensor on the door that turns on when closed. If the sensor malfunctions or breaks, the washer might not “know” the door is closed, causing it to turn off, or it may never start to begin with.  

Washing Machine Door Latch

Through fixing many washing machines, and lots of research, I’m quite confident that over 50% of washing machines stopping mid-cycle are caused by a faulty door switch. 

The door lock normally fails on the door switch itself or on the lock attached to the unit. The machine may also click when you try and turn it on if the door hasn’t latched correctly.  

For older washers the location of the sensor is obvious and at the front of the machine but for newer washing machines it may be at the hinge. I have a newer machine and to access the sensor, I need to remove the top display panel of the washing machine using a paint scraper to prise it off. It takes a bit of elbow grease but is doable. 

The first thing you should do is manually inspect the door lock mechanism for any blockages. If you’re lucky and have found something, it would be a simple fix to remove whatever’s stuck. 

After visual inspection, the best way to test for a faulty door switch is by using a multimeter (on Amazon). Test for continuity with the door shut. If the test is negative or your door switch isn’t engaged properly, it’s faulty.

Luckily repairing a door lock and switch assembly is usually cheap and easy. The process varies depending on whether you have a top-load washer or a front-load washer. 

Replacing the door lock and switch assembly on a front-loading washing machine

To replace your door lock and switch assembly you’ll need to ensure you buy the correct part by entering your model number to a website such as partselect.com. Then follow these steps, after taking note of Andy’s advice…

NEVER actuate a door lock manually by hand or with a tool as they are often non-resetable.

Andy Fulenchek
  1. Unplug or isolate power to the washing machine. 
  2. Remove the round metal spring that surrounds the opening to the door. This is found beneath the rubber door gasket and you can use pliers to remove it. You can also carefully insert a flathead screw driver under the spring portion of the boot seal clamp and roll the spring away from the boot seal. Pliers you’ll find are difficult to get a good hold of the spring. Also, use extreme caution no matter what tool you’re using as an accidental slip here can puncture the door boot which would then turn in to a much more expensive repair. 
  3. Peel the rubber gasket away from the right-hand side, exposing the door lock assembly.
  4. Remove the two or three screws securing the door lock assembly to the front panel and pull away the assembly from the panel. 
  5. Remove the wires by depressing the locking tab and pulling away. 
  6. Re-connect the wires to the new switch assembly ensuring the locking tab engages.
  7. Screw in your new lock and switch assembly and re-assemble the washing machine. 

Here’s a great Youtube video I found on how to replace the lock and switch assembly: 

Fixing the door switch sensor on a top-load washer

There are a couple of ways to fix a faulty door switch sensor on an older top-load washing machine. Newer machines are more difficult to bypass.

Searching YouTube, you’ll find quite a few videos on how to bypass the sensor on the door lock. This basically means you’re tricking the washing machine into thinking the door is shut when it’s actually not. Whilst I don’t encourage this as it could be dangerous, here’s a video showing you how to do it: 

If your sensor is in the top left of your top-load washing machine, also check for loose screws on the door. You might find that if you firmly press down in the top left of the washer, it comes back on after turning off mid-cycle. If this is the case, you might simply be able to tighten up the screws holding the door in position. This enables the sensor to work more effectively. 

Finally, you can also replace the entire door latch assembly. Here’s a video showing you how to do it: 

Stopping Mid-Cycle: Power Problems Plaguing Your Washing Machine

Another likely cause of your washing machine stopping randomly during the cycle is power issues. Power issues can range from a simple incoming power problem where your plug is loose, to needing a dedicated circuit for your washing machine. 

Washing machine power cable

Note: if your washing machine is turning off and flipping the breaker, this may actually be a pump issue rather than a power issue. If the filter is clogged, your pump may be over-straining. 

Check the Outlet and Circuit Breaker

Firstly you should inspect the power supply. A power outage in the middle of a cycle will cause the washer to turn off. Otherwise, a faulty outlet, tripped circuit breaker or loose connections may also cause the machine to turn off.

Plug another appliance or device into the outlet to make sure it works. You can also inspect your circuit breaker to see if the switch tripped. If you don’t notice any problems, continue to the following troubleshooting method below.

Inspect the Power Cable

Next, you’ll want to inspect the washing machine’s plug and power cable. Look for any visible signs of damage, cuts, or exposed wires that may prevent it from working. Damage to the power cable can prevent your washing machine from working correctly. 

The cable might only be loose and must be reinserted to work correctly. If reinserting the cord resolves the issue, consider that the outlet may be at fault vs the cord.

In other situations, you may need a replacement cable if the original is damaged or burnt out.

Burned terminals on the plug indicate that there was a bad connection causing excessive heat/arcing at the plug. This is commonly going to be a failed outlet that is no longer clamping the terminals of the plug tightly any longer.

Andy Fulenchek

You can search for your washing machine’s model number online to find replacement power cables. In some cases, you can find your model’s power cords at big box stores like Walmart or Home Depot between $30-$60. 

This likely the cheapest way to resolve, but keep in mind that the original plug may have a specific proprietary connector for your specific model. Be prepared to cut/splice wires as needed to connect the new cord. Wire nuts are fine. Easy & cheap, but be sure to zip tie the wires to a secure part of your washer to prevent the wire from being tugged as it’s moved.

Andy Fulenchek

Make Sure Your Washing Machine Is On a Dedicated Circuit

Washing machines use lots of electricity and typically need a wall socket on a separate circuit from other appliances. Your washing machine can turn off suddenly or behave strangely when using a shared circuit. The clue in identifying that the circuit is overloaded is that it trips the breaker…

You’ll need to inspect your unit to determine if it’s on a shared circuit with other appliances or devices.

  • Try plugging your washing machine into a separate wall socket that doesn’t share a circuit with other appliances.
  • Alternatively, remove all other devices on the washing machine’s circuit.

Either way, this will ensure your washing machine is on a dedicated circuit, preventing it from trying to draw too much power and turning off unexpectedly.

The Build-Up Culprit: Detergent and Its Effects on Washing Machines

Excess laundry detergent build-up and residue can also cause problems. Most washing machines have rubber hoses that can become clogged. When the hose is clogged, it can’t activate the unit’s pressure switch, causing your appliance to turn off suddenly. This is because the washer can’t know if it’s full or empty. 

Detergent

If you live in a hard water area, it’s also possible you have limescale build-up. 

A clogged filter or stuck float valve may also cause your pump to overwork. This can either cause your washing machine to shut off or could cause your breaker to trip. 

Note: Whilst this is an annoying thing to say (sorry), the best way to deal with build-up situations caused by detergent or limescale is prevention. 

How to remove detergent build-up in a washing machine

  1. Clean the door and rubber gasket. You can use an old towel or rag dipped in some white vinegar. 
  2. Run a vinegar cycle. Vinegar is great at cleaning off soap residue. Run a cycle on the hottest temperature setting with 2 – 4 cups of vinegar poured into the detergent drawer. 
  3. Run another cycle using baking soda. If the detergent build-up is causing your machine to stop running, the build-up is likely to be significant. So we’ll double check your washing machine is extra clean. Run another hot cycle and pour ⅓ cup of baking soda directly into the drum of the washing machine. 

If you live in a hard water area, I’d recommend cleaning your washing machine using the above method once a month. You should also leave your washing machine door open between cycles and avoid using too much detergent or overfilling. 

Does Your Unit Have Pump Issues?

If your washing machine turns off unexpectedly or fails to drain, you might have a faulty pump. One cause of this is a detergent build-up, and hopefully, my instructions above have helped relieve this. 

However, if your pump is still causing the washing machine to cut out, it’s probably best to call a professional as it can be difficult to diagnose alone. Newer washing machines use self-contained pumps that can be unreliable. 

What to do when the washing machine shuts off and is full of water

If your washing machine cuts off mid-cycle and is full of water, if you can’t restart it, you’ll need to manually drain the water before being able to troubleshoot the issue.

How to manually drain a front-load washing machine

  1. Remove your wet clothes! 
  2. Locate and open the built-in trap. This is normally located at the bottom left or right of the unit.
  3. The hose is the lowest point in the whole machine. Unscrew the end of the hose and ensure the machine is draining into a bucket. 

Note: I’ve come across washing machine models that lack a hose with a plug, and some only have a removable screw-out filter. Taking it slow is key. I’ve used a shop vac to gradually remove water, but it can be time-consuming. If your machine isn’t on a pedestal, using a bucket can be a challenge because the drain is almost at floor level. What worked for me was cutting a plastic cup in half and removing the bottom, creating a nifty funnel to direct water into a bucket.

How to manually drain a top-loading washing machine 

  1. Locate drainage hose. 
  2. Move the bottom of the hose to a height lower than the tub. Water will start siphoning out. 
  3. Empty water into a bucket (a water transfer pump like this one on Amazon is a God send for situations like this!)

Final Thoughts

The best things for you to check at home would be the door sensor, power issues, and detergent build-up. Once you’ve checked and troubleshoot all of these issues, I’d recommend asking a professional to help diagnose the problem. 

Intermittent issues can be frustrating! Start with reading through your user manual to help rule out safety switch issues (lid switch, door lock, fail safe drain functions, etc) that may be causing your machine to shut down. It’s easy to go crazy, chasing a strange symptom you think is a defect, when the machine is actually performing as it should. Auto drain, pausing during a cycle waiting on water to enter the tub, etc etc.

Andy Fulenchek

Other articles I wrote on fixing washing machines

Hoover Washing Machine Beeping: How To Troubleshoot

How To Unlock An Indesit Washing Machine That Won’t Open

Hotpoint Washing Machine Beeping: How To Troubleshoot And Fix The Issue

Dirty Water In Washing Machine: Common Causes And How To Fix

Whirlpool Washing Machine Beeping: Possible Causes And Solutions

How To Drain A Basement Washing Machine

Washing Machine Drum Loose: A Repair Guide

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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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