Washing Machine Stuck On Wash Cycle? (Do This)

I’ll never forget the first time I started a load of laundry that took way too long. An hour went by, and the buzzer still hadn’t gone off, so I went to check on it. My washer was stuck on the wash cycle, with a pool of soapy water inside.

Washing Machine Stuck On Wash Cycle

If this has ever happened to you, you’re in the right place. We’ll give you a few ways to troubleshoot the issue if you find your washing machine stuck on the wash cycles and let you know when it’s time to call in the professionals. We’ll also give you some tips to keep it from happening again.

Troubleshooting A Washing Machine Stuck On Wash Cycle

When your washer gets stuck on the wash cycle, it can feel like a major disaster.

If you have a front load washing machine, you might be concerned that some of the water will leak onto the floor since it didn’t drain out during the spin cycle. There are many reasons your appliance could be stuck on one cycle.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common things that can happen and how to fix them.

1. Look For Foreign Objects In The Drum

washing machine drum

If you don’t check your pockets before putting your clothes in the washer, there might be foreign objects like coins, lighters, or lip balm in the drum of your washing machine that could obstruct the drain.

If you think this may be why your washer is stuck on the wash cycle, turn off the machine and let it drain.

When the door unlocks, open it and remove the laundry. Check the drum and the drain for loose items, then put your clothes back in and run them again.

2. Make Sure Your Laundry Is Balanced

One of the most common reasons your washing machine might get stuck on the wash cycle is an unbalanced load of laundry.

If you find your laundry uneven, all you need to do is turn off the machine, redistribute your clothing, and run your washer again.

3. Clean The Filters

dirty washing machine filter

Sometimes clogged filters can cause your washer to get stuck on the wash cycle. If you think this might be your issue, you can turn off your machine and allow it to drain.

When it’s finished draining, and the door unlocks, remove your laundry and set it aside. Locate the filter in your washing machine and clean it thoroughly (here’s where you can find it on a Whirlpool Top Load).

When the filter is clean, put it back in your washer, put your laundry back in, and turn on your appliance. Select whichever cleaning cycle you tried to use before and let it run through again.

4. Check For Error Codes

Modern technology truly is a wonder, but sometimes that technology can backfire and complicate our lives. If you notice that your washing machine is stuck in the wash cycle, check for error codes.

What action you take depends on the code you see. For example, if you have a Whirlpool washing machine with an error code of F05, it means you have a blockage somewhere in your plumbing that will need to be removed to allow the water to drain from the drum of your appliance.

Occasionally, you can get an error message by mistake. To see if that’s true for your machine, you can try turning off your washer and restarting it. If the message is a mistake, your washer will run normally the second time around.

5. Make Sure There’s Enough Water

Sometimes, the water level in your washing machine will be too low to complete the cycle. This is especially true if you have a top-loading washer and wash large loads. There are a few reasons that you may have a low water level, including a faulty pump or clogged drains. 

If you have a top-loading washer, you can add water to the machine manually to help it complete its cycle. Take care when doing so; if you have a clogged drain, your appliance may also have difficulty emptying its wastewater. 

If you have a front load washer, you won’t be able to add water to your machine manually. Instead, you can turn it off, which will often trigger the appliance to drain. When the water has drained, and the door unlocks, you can turn your washing machine back on and try to run your laundry again. 

6. Reset Your Washer

unplugging a washing machine

If you’ve tried all the minor fixes, you could try resetting your washing machine before moving on to the more complicated issues. Most of the time, all you need to do to reset your washer is unplug it.

Leave it unplugged for a few minutes, then plug it back in. Resetting your appliance should clear any errors that may have caused it to get stuck on the wash cycle.

7. Check The Lid Locking Mechanism

Most washing machines have a switch that tells the appliance when the lid is shut, allowing it to lock. If the switch malfunctions, it will stop sending the signal to the appliance that the lid is closed.

If your washer can’t sense that the lid is closed, it will stop mid-cycle to prevent water from spilling out of the machine. 

If you think your lid switch is faulty, check it with a multimeter to see if it’s sending an electrical current. If it only sends a current occasionally, it’s failing; if it doesn’t send one at all, it’s dead.

If your switch is dead or faulty, you’ll need to hire a repair technician to replace it.

8. Check Your Water Level Sensor

The water level sensor ensures that there’s enough water in the machine to complete a cycle. When this sensor begins to fail, your washing machine won’t get the signal that you have enough water to clean your clothes and will stop mid-cycle. 

To check this sensor on a Maytag washing machine, follow these simple steps:

  • Unplug your washer: If your washing machine has stopped mid-cycle, turn it off to allow the tub to drain, remove your laundry, and unplug the appliance.

  • Find the control panel: When it’s no longer connected to a power source, you can open up your appliance to access the control panel. If you’re unsure where the control panel is on your machine, look at your user’s manual for help locating it. 

  • Locate the water level sensor: Once you find the control panel, you can distinguish the water sensor switch from the rest of the switches on the pane by the rubber tube that runs from the sensor down the drum of the machine. 

  • Disconnect the tube: Remove the tube by loosening the clamps on each end, then check the tube for kinks and debris. 

  • Reconnect the tube properly: When you’ve finished clearing and straightening the tube, you can reattach it per the directions in your user’s manual.

  • Test the switch: Find the wires that are connected to the sensor’s terminal, label them, then disconnect them. There are three pairs of terminals on the sensor, so you’ll need to check each of them in pairs using a multimeter. Your reading should be between infinity and zero. Two pairs should have a reading close to zero to indicate continuity, while the last pair will show infinity to indicate no continuity. If your readings are different than this, your sensor is faulty and causing your machine to stay in the wash cycle indefinitely.

  • Analyze results: If your sensor has an electrical problem indicated by the multimeter reading, you’ll need to hire a maintenance specialist to install a new sensor. If your sensor didn’t have an electrical problem, reconnect your wires and tube and check to see if your problem was corrected by cleaning and straightening the tubing.

This process will be roughly the same for any make and model of washing machine, but be sure to consult your user’s manual to guide you through each step.

9. Make Sure the Drain Pump is Working Properly

As indicated by the name, the drain pump drains the water from your washing machine between cycles. If you have a faulty drain pump, the water will remain stuck inside the drum, and no fresh water will come in during the rinse cycle. 

If you suspect that your drain pump is causing your washer to get stuck on the wash cycle, you can check it with a multimeter by following these simple steps:

  • Unplug it: Whenever you need to check the electrical components of your appliances, you must unplug them to avoid shocks. If your washing machine stopped mid-cycle, turn it off, wait for it to drain, and remove your laundry before unplugging it.

  • Disconnect the wires: When the machine is unplugged, you can access the drain pump as per the instructions in your user’s manual. Locate the two wires that run down the sides of the pump and disconnect them from their terminals. 

  • Test the terminals: With the wires removed, you can touch the probes of your multimeter to each terminal. Make sure your multimeter reads zero before testing the terminals to ensure accuracy. If you get a reading between five and ten Ohms, your pump is functioning correctly. A reading of zero or infinity means that your pump needs to be replaced.

If you discover that your drain pump is working correctly, you should check it for clogs before replacing the panel and plugging your washer in again.

10. Call In An Expert

washing machine repair expert

If you’ve tried all the troubleshooting tips above and nothing has worked, it’s likely a complicated issue that only a professional maintenance specialist can fix.

The maintenance specialist can accurately diagnose your issue and tell you if your washing machine should be repaired or replaced.

Tips To Prevent Your Washer From Getting Stuck On Wash Cycle

When you finally get your washing machine out of the wash cycle, you should take some steps to keep it from getting stuck again. Here are a few tips to keep your washer working as it should.

  • Use the right detergent: If you have a high-efficiency machine but don’t use the right kind of detergent, it can leave residue behind and clog the sensors. You should also make sure that you use the right amount of detergent because using too much could also damage the sensors. 

  • Don’t overdo it with fabric softeners: Using too much fabric softener can cause buildup on the sensors in your washing machine and cause it to malfunction.

  • Clean your machine regularly: Since you use it to clean your clothes, it might seem odd that your washing machine needs to be cleaned. The truth is that old detergent and fabric softener can leave a residue on your sensors, drains, and filters. 

To clean your machine, just put two cups of white distilled vinegar in the detergent dispenser and run an empty cycle using hot water.

For those who want an extra boost of cleaning, you can run a second empty cycle using a cup of baking soda.

The baking soda will clean your machine and neutralize the smell of the vinegar. Repeat this process once a month to keep your washer in peak performance.


It can be confusing and frustrating when your washing machine gets stuck on the wash cycle. Your appliance may get stuck on a particular cycle for many reasons, from simple fixes like a dirty filter or foreign objects blocking the drain to more complicated issues like a faulty water sensor or drain pump.

If you try all the troubleshooting tips on our list and your washing machine still gets stuck on the wash cycle, it may be time to call a professional for an accurate diagnosis.

To keep your washer function at peak performance, use the right type and amount of laundry detergent, and don’t overdo it with fabric softeners. You should also clean your appliance once a month using white distilled vinegar and baking soda to remove buildup from your drains and sensors.

Shauna Stone