Slow-Filling Washing Machine? Here’s a Simple Fix

Updated: Sep. 14, 2023

Does your washing machine take a long time to fill? This simple fix could solve the problem in 15 minutes.

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A few minutes






It's almost guaranteed that one day your washing machine will not fill up as fast as it used to. Over time, little bits of sediment build up in the screens in front of your water inlet valves. Eventually, there's so much sediment it restricts the flow of water into your washing machine.

Ninety percent of the time, the problem is a dirty water inlet screen. Cleaning the screen fixes the problem. As an appliance technician with more than 30 years of experience, this is one of my favorite repairs because it's so fast and easy to do. Let me show you how.

Tools Required

  • Bucket
  • Old toothbrush
  • Pliers
  • Turkey baster

Materials Required

  • Bath towel
  • Tape

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Fix Washer - Turn water valves all the way onFamily Handyman

Turn the Water Valves All the Way On

  • Weak water flow to your washer could mean your hot and cold valves aren’t turned on all the way. Some valve handles need to be turned as far as you can counterclockwise to fully open. Newer valve handles must be turned 90 degrees so they line up with the hoses going to the washer.
  • Try filling your washer for a small cold wash and see if the flow improves.
  • Do the same for a small hot wash.
  • If nothing’s changed, go to the next step.

Turn water valves all the way onFamily Handyman

Step 2

Turn the Water Valves All the Way Off

  • Unplug the washer and move it away from the wall to give you room to work.
  • Turn the hot and cold water valves on the wall all the way off, clockwise. Note: It’s common for a little water to leak from the valve handles when you turn them on or off, because the rubber seals dry out over time. When you get to all the way on or off, the leaking should stop.

Turn water valves all the way offFamily Handyman

plug - Turn water valves all the way offFamily Handyman

Step 3

Unscrew the Water Hoses from the Back of the Washer

  • Mark the hot water hose with tape so you remember which is which. Sometimes the hot valve has a red handle, or there may be an “H” on the back of the washer under the hot water hose.
  • Put a towel on the floor below the fill hoses to catch any drips.
  • Unscrew the hoses attached to the back of the washer, turning to the left (counterclockwise) with pliers.

Unscrew water hoses from back of washerFamily Handyman

Unscrew water hoses from back of washerFamily Handyman

Step 4

Test the Water Flow from Both Hoses

  • Put your hoses in the bucket. Turn your cold water valve all the way on for five seconds, then all the way off.
  • Repeat for the hot water. You should see a strong and equal flow of water from both sides. If the flow of water is weak, call in a plumber to identify the cause. If the flow is strong, go to the next step.

Test flow of water from hot and cold hosesFamily Handyman

Step 5

Clean the Water Inlet Screens

  • Add a little water to your bucket and put it under the water inlet screens behind your washer.
  • Grab your turkey baster, load it with water from your bucket and blast the inlet screens with water. Let the water drip down into the bucket. Repeat five times.
  • With an old toothbrush, scrub the screens in a circular motion to loosen sediment.
  • Repeat the turkey baster rinsing until there’s no more sediment visible.

Clean water inlet screensFamily Handyman

Step 6

Finish Up

  • Screw the marked hot hose to the hot side inlet on your washer. Do this slowly and carefully so the hose goes back on the plastic threads of the water inlet easily. You should be able to twist two full revolutions without force. If you feel resistance as you screw the hose back on, it’s cross-threaded, and tightening the hose will damage the plastic threads of the water inlet valve. Take it off and redo the process. You should turn the metal piece at the end of the hose to your right (clockwise) to tighten.
  • Repeat with cold water hose.
  • Get the hoses hand tight, then use pliers to turn just one-quarter turn further.
  • Turn on both water valves all the way and check for leaks. If you see a little water leaking where the hose connects to the washer, tighten it a little more.
  • Plug in the washer.
  • Move washer back in place.
  • Test a small cold wash and then a small hot wash. Both should now fill much faster. If you notice the water fill is still slow, then you can easily replace both water valves.