What to do when your washing machine or dishwasher overflows

Hurry through these steps to save your floors.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
2 min read

Maybe you put in a little too much detergent in the washer, or maybe the dishwasher's filter is clogged. Either way, your appliance is oozing bubbles and water onto the floor and it needs to be stopped. 

Here's how to halt the flow and clean up the mess before it damages your floors.

Cut the power

First and foremost, you want to cut the electricity flow to the washer or dishwasher. For the dishwasher, that might mean pressing the cancel button, which will hopefully start draining the water.

With your washing machine, you'll probably reach for the plug, but hold up. Standing in a puddle while messing with something that's plugged into an electrical outlet is a bad idea.

Go to your home's breaker box and flip off the switch that belongs to the appliance. If you don't know which switch is which, flip off the master switch, which is typically the biggest switch on the panel.

Stop the suds


Salt will stop the suds.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Now it's time to deal with the suds. Grab a salt shaker and douse the bubbles with a layer of salt. 

The salt interacts chemically with the soap, making the suds disappear. Now you can clean up the water.

Mop up the mess

Finally, you can mop up the water. Don't just mop around the appliance and call it done, though. You'll need to move your dishwasher and dry up any water that may have seeped underneath.

For a dishwasher, put towels on the floor to sop up extra water and prevent it from seeping under the appliance.

If you don't take these crucial steps, your floor could warp. At the very least, mold will probably grow underneath your appliance, which isn't good for your health or the floor.

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Prevent an overflow next time

One of the biggest reasons for overflow is using the wrong type of cleanser or too much cleanser. Always read the labels on dishwashing liquid and detergent bottles to be sure you're adding the right amount for your type of appliance and load size.

Also, be sure the filter on the appliance is clean. Crud stuck in the filter can stop water from draining properly.

You can find instructions for cleaning a washer's filter (also called a trap) here.

You can find instructions on cleaning a dishwasher's filter here.