Stay at Home Solutions
Maintain Your Independence

Blog, News, & Resources

Stay at Home Solutions blogs on topics such as aging in place, universal design, adaptive equipment, home modifications, accessibility, durable medical equipment, legislation, and caregiving.

Can't Open the Washing Machine (Or Dryer) Door?

 Pexels

Pexels

I will admit to you all today that I sometimes struggle to open the washing machine or dryer door. There are instances where I do not grip the door handle well enough and my hand slips off! Occasionally, I attempt to open the door and need to tug on it two to three times before it opens! When I experience this I tend to think, "Oh my gosh, why is this so hard?"

Then my occupational therapy brain starts to kick in and think: "How can I solve this? How can I make it easier to open the washer or dryer door?"

Well my friends, let me share some ideas with you today! Let's go through and think about your current situation!

stay_at_home_solutions_laundry

Please go and look at your washer and dryer right now. I will patiently wait for you! (Side note: Hopefully your washer and dryer are on the main level of your house. If not, put that in your three to five year home modification plan! A washer and dryer on the main level of the house helps people age in place in their home!)

Ok, did you look? I am going to ask the following questions:

  • What type of washer and dryer do you have? Are they front or top loaders?

  • Are they a stackable washer and dryer?

  • What brand do you have? 

  • Which direction does the door open and shut on the washer and dryer?

  • Where are the control buttons on the washer and dryer? On the front of the machine? Towards the back on a panel?

  • Where is it located in the house?

The answers to these questions tell me a lot about how you are moving to do laundry. It leads me to other questions about you personally like:

  • What is your dominant hand? Right or left?

  • What is your grip strength?

  • Are you sitting or standing at the machine when moving loads?

  • Are you sitting or standing while folding clothes?

  • How far can you reach while sitting or standing?

  • Are you using equipment, like a walker or reacher?

  • When you do laundry, do you wear out after a short time or can you do everything without rest breaks?

  • Do you lose your balance when reaching for clothes inside the machine?

There are no right or wrong answers! Everyone does laundry a little bit different. Answering these questions helps me think about the best options for you when opening the washer and dryer door. It tells me what your needs are and the possible solutions to making it easier to open the door handle every time.

It is also really helpful to see you in action! Ask your local, friendly occupational therapist to watch how you open the washer or dryer door handle to find a way to make it better for you! Or another option is to have your family member or friend take a video recording. You know your teenage children or grandchildren would be happy to whip out their phones to video record you in action!

After considering all the information and how you open the washer or dryer door handle, perhaps your solution is as simple as switching the door hinges to swing from the right instead of the left or vice versa. Maybe you are able to add some texture around the handle of the washer and dryer door handle, like shelf liner or some other type of non slip grip. The solution varies from person to person!

 Clarke Health Care grab bar

Clarke Health Care grab bar

I talked with another occupational therapist about trying a suction cup grab bar on the washer or dryer door. The handle of the suction cup grab bar would be easier to grip. However, the temperature changes on the surface of the machine's door could cause the suction cup grab bar to fall off after several uses. If you have tried to use a suction cup grab bar as a door handle on your washer or dryer, please comment down below! I am curious to hear your experience!

To be honest, this is one of the rare times I encourage people to use a suction cup grab bar at home! Please click here to read why I am skeptical about suction cup grab bars!

After doing some quick research, I found an ingenious way to fix a broken handle on a washer or dryer door. Click here to read this do-it-yourself article on how to change your washer/dryer door handle into a rope handle! I have never seen anyone use a rope as a door handle on the washer or dryer in person. Nevertheless, this option is appealing because it is inexpensive and straightforward to pull on the rope to open the door.

An alternative strategy is an autorelease, or automatic, washer or dryer door. The door would open as soon as the load finished, which lessens the need to open the washer or dryer door. I researched this option and only found it for a dishwasher brand. Manufacturers, hear my plea to be more creative with your washer and dryer handles!

 Home Depot Samsung Washer

Home Depot Samsung Washer

In the same technology vein, I looked at several smart washers and dryers. I could not find any with a feature that made it easier to open the washer and dryer door. However, I encourage you to consider this type of appliance because smart washers and dryers cost around the same amount as other washers and dryers. Other benefits include smart washers and dryers running loads when energy usage in your neighborhood is low, monitoring machine parts that need replacement, and controlling the machine from an app on your smart phone.

Hopefully, these ideas will help you open the washer or dryer door effortlessly! These tips will help you stay independent while doing your laundry for years to come. Laundry is not the most pleasurable chore for people, but you deserve for it to be free of difficulty! Please share what you have done to your washer or dryer door handle. Tell me what technology, equipment, or parts that I'm missing!