How to Stop the Washing Machine from Walking

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Is your washing machine taking a stroll around the laundry room? Washing uneven loads or resting the washer on uneven flooring can cause the appliance to vibrate excessively and move around the laundry room (scientists have labeled the behavior, "walking"). In case you had any doubt, it's totally not supposed to be doing that. But it's a problem that has plagued front-loading washing machines for years. Here's how to stop it.

Back in the 1990's a couple of engineers decided to tackle one of life's most important questions: Why do washing machines in Europe "walk," while the machines in the States stay put?

Just so you don't have to read through their study, On the Problem of Oscillatory Walk of Automatic Washing Machines, yourself, we'll answer it for you (spoiler alert!): back then, front-loading machines were de rigeur in Europe, while in the US vertically-spinning top loaders dominated the market.

When a laundry load is unevenly distributed in a washer, the drum will spin unevenly and the whole machine can vibrate. Sometimes, those vibrations are strong enough to make the large appliance "walk." This happens especially with uneven floors with a drum spinning around a horizontal axis at fast speeds (i.e. front-loaders).

Is it a serious problem?

Yes. The walking effect can can damage both the machine and floors. Plus it's just plain annoying if the washer keeps crawling out from underneath a counter or out of line with the dryer.

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So how do you stop it?

1. Make sure the washing machine is level. Figure this out with a good old fashioned bubble level. If you're finding it sits at a tilt, play around with your washer's adjustable feet (or attach some of your own) until it's level from front to back and left to right. The best method? Start with the feet screwed in as far as possible, then work from there. 

2. Attach some non-slip, anti-vibration pads to the bottom of your washer's legs.
They'll reduce the shake, add some grip, and lessen the wear on your floor. 

3. Take precautions to balance your washer load every time you do laundry.
If you have to mix large and small items, balance the load by washing an even numbers of bulky items. For example, two beach towels are better than one.


Originally posted April 3, 2011

(Image: withassociates/ Creative Commonsp.Gordon/Creative Commons)

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Taryn is a writer, maker, designer, and editor of lifestyle blog Formal Fringe. She lives in an apartment in Atlanta with her fiancé, their Boston Terrier and lots of serving dishes.

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