How to find and fix a scratch in my washing machine.
January 28, 2007 6:27 AM   Subscribe

What to do about a scratched laundry tub?

Our washing machine is 13 years old. Not worth the cost of repair. It works fine except...somewhere on the bottom of the tub, there's a scratch. If I wash a load of laundry and forget to hang it up within, say, 10 minutes, something - ususally the lightest colored or most favorite - gets a rust stain on it and is ruined. I've run my fingers over the enamel surface, I've used a flashlight. I can't find the nick or scratch. It's probably pretty small. Does anyone have any other suggestions for how to find it and how to fix it if I do?

I hate to trash the machine for a scratch, but I've ruined a machine's worth of clothes at this point. Thanks for your help!
posted by clarkstonian to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
While I'm not speaking from experience, here's what I'd probably do:

1. Find a thin white piece of cloth (maybe an old bedsheet) that you can afford to destroy.
2. Wet it down, and line the inside of the drum with it as best you can.
3. Wait 15 minutes. Find the rust spot on the piece of cloth.

Once you've found rust spot, you should be able to narrow down the area of the nick enough to locate it precisely, and paint over it with a bit of touch-up paint.

If this fails, get a can of Rustoleum spray enamel, and just paint the whole inside of the drum as best you can.
posted by jferg at 7:45 AM on January 28, 2007

I'm guessing that the scratch is probably in one of the drain holes in the tub, so it might not be easy to see. jferg's advice sounds pretty good.
posted by stefnet at 8:07 AM on January 28, 2007

As for your stained clothing, lemon juice, vinegar or other acids should remove the rust stains.
posted by caddis at 8:28 AM on January 28, 2007

Never thought of trying Rustoleum - that's a great idea. I tried the white cloth. While it would come up with a rust spot, I could never pinpoint the location - but a drain hole makes good sense.

As for the lemon juice, etc., I've tried 'em, and they work somewhat - but the stains tend to be in inappropriate places, and I haven't been able to salvage.

Will the Rustoleum would get down into the machine & ruin it?
posted by clarkstonian at 8:54 AM on January 28, 2007

use water proof epoxy.
posted by hortense at 10:18 AM on January 28, 2007

For removing rust stains I recommend the powdered cleanser "Zud".

It contains oxalic acid which is known for removing rust.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:19 AM on January 28, 2007

The enamel is thinnest at the edge of the drain holes so it's quite likely that is where the chip is.

Don't use Rustoleum -- it's not made to be repeatedly immersed in water and it won't last. I froogled "appliance enamel repair" (no quotes) and this was the first product that came up, though there are lots more where that came from. Pick a likely-looking product, coat the perimeter of all the drain holes, and see if that fixes it.

Also, this link has two rust-related suggestions:

# Combat rust with 2 c. lime or lemon juice in a cycle of the hottest water setting.

# Visit a hardware or appliance store for rust removal products such as Iron-Out. Know which brand of washer you have, and follow the product's instructions.

(That, and lots more, found via this Google search.)
posted by vetiver at 11:26 AM on January 28, 2007

They sell appliance enamel at your local hardware store, in both spray and brush on. I've used it, it works. Appliance repair shops also carry this, check the yellow pages.
posted by IronLizard at 12:55 PM on January 28, 2007

Thanks! I'll get the appliance enamel, coat the drain holes, and report back how it went. I'll give the clothes another try (they've only ever been washed in cold water - and I'll try the Zud. Unfortunately, they're all cold-water wash items.
posted by clarkstonian at 2:47 PM on January 28, 2007

It would be easiest to repair if you remove the tub from the washer. That sounds hard, but really is quite simple. has instructions on how to disassemble most major appliances.
posted by caddis at 5:01 PM on January 28, 2007

My experience with rust stains on laundry that sat in the washer tub came from the outside of the tub. The fabric would poke through the holes just enough to contact the rust. That maybe why you can't find the scratches.

Caddis has a good idea with removing the tub. You could paint the outside of the tub as well.
posted by JujuB at 8:17 PM on January 28, 2007

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