How to Clean a Washer Lint Trap

how to clean a washer lint trap

The Spruce

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins

Older washing machines, specifically non-high-efficiency models, have a lint trap similar to dryers. You must manually remove the lint from the trap to keep the clothes fuzz-free and smelling nice. Removing lint from a washer may not be as intuitive as a dryer, so follow these steps to remove lint that may be clogging your washer.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Small brush


  • Paper towels
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Hot water


materials for cleaning a washer lint trap

The Spruce / Dana Wimberly

How Often to Clean the Lint Trap

The washer lint filter should be cleaned at least four times per year to keep your machine working its best and reduce the amount of lint that deposits on your clothes.

How to Clean Removable Lint Traps

  1. Find the Filter

    If you have your owner's operating or repair manual, it will tell you where the washer's lint filter is located. If you need to go on the hunt, check these locations:

    • The top rim of the washer tub: Slide your fingers around the top of the washer drum, and you might find a screen to pull out or just simply a great deal of lint that needs to be removed.
    • Near the top of the center agitator: The top can often be unscrewed and cleaned. Some filters are inside the center agitator. If your agitator cover is removable, check near the bottom where it attaches to the tub. In some models, the top of the center agitator unscrews for cleaning.
    • Near the water pump or at the end of the drainage hose: To access the water pump filter on a standard top load washer, the outer housing of the washer will need to be removed. The filter on a drain line is located where the hose attaches to the washer housing.
    locating the filter

    The Spruce / Dana Wimberly

  2. Remove and Soak the Filter

    If the screen is removable, soak it in a sink of hot water and liquid dishwashing detergent for 10 minutes before replacing it. The hot water solution will help to clear away any detergent or fabric softener residue that slows drainage.

    If the filter is not removable, use a small brush or paper towel to clean off the lint.

    soaking the filter

    The Spruce / Dana Wimberly

  3. Clean the Filter's Location

    Use paper towels and a small brush to clean out where the filter is located, removing any goo from the interior of the machine. Be sure to get into the crevices.

    cleaning out the filter's location

    The Spruce / Dana Wimberly

  4. Return the Filter

    Put the filter back in its proper location before doing another load of laundry.

    replacing the washer filter

    The Spruce / Dana Wimberly

How to Clean a Water Pump Filter

Newer standard and high-efficiency washers, both front-loading and top-loading, promise to be self-cleaning and do not have a removable, cleanable lint filter. However, because they use much less water than an older washer, it is helpful to run a cleaning cycle every month to flush the lint away. The cleaning cycle also helps control odors and disinfects your machine.

If you still see lint, the filter at your water pump may be clogged. When that happens, the water from the wash and rinse cycle with all that suspended soil and lint drains too slowly and leaves deposits on your clothes. You can still help the performance of your washer by cleaning the water pump filter regularly.


Watch Now: How to Clean a Washing Machine Pump Filter

  1. Remove Debris Caught in the Water Pump Filter

    Most front load washers have a small door near the bottom of the appliance that can be opened to remove any lint or debris caught in the water pump filter. Top-load washers and standard top-load washers usually require removing the outer housing to access the water pump filter from the back of the machine. You may find lots of lint, coins, buttons, or even a sock that is causing a slow drain and leaving lint on your clothes.

    Cleaning this pump filter regularly will allow water to flow out more quickly taking suspended lint with it and not leaving it to redeposit on your clothes.

    Blue water pump filter detached to remove debris from washing machine

    The Spruce

  2. Clean the Drain Line Filter

    Unscrew the drain hose from the back of the washer. Keep some old towels handle to catch any drips. Remove the filter and clean it well before reattaching the drain hose.

    Blue drain line filter rinsed under running sink water by hang

    The Spruce

  3. Check the Septic Tank System

    If you have your washer connected to a septic tank system, the lint is being washed out of the washer and into your tank. Synthetic fibers don't break down easily and will continue to collect until they cause a problem. There are external lint filters that can be connected to the washer to prevent this problem. Remember to clean these regularly to prevent lint from redepositing on clothes.

    Blue drain filter pushed back into washer with fingers connected to septic tank system

    The Spruce