Rotten Spiders in our Washing Machines


Both front-load and top-load washing machines are becoming violent injuring people and damaging property.

Here’s why:

First of all,

... from Wikipedia: Pot metal (or monkey metal) is an alloy of low-melting point metals that manufacturers use to make fast, inexpensive castings. The term "pot metal" came about due to the practice at automobile factories in the early 20th century of gathering up non-ferrous metal scraps from the manufacturing processes and melting them in one pot to form into cast products. A small amount of iron usually made it into the castings, but too much iron raised the melting point, so it was minimized.

There is no metallurgical standard for pot metal. Common metals in pot metal include zinc, lead, copper, tin, magnesium, aluminum, iron, and cadmium. The primary advantage of pot metal is that it is quick and easy to cast. Because of its low melting temperature, it requires no sophisticated foundry equipment or specialized molds.

   Rotten Pot Metal Spiders

Spindle support on the back side or bottom side

of a washing machine stainless steel drum basket

With that in mind, more recent washing machine drum or basket drive-spindle support arms, commonly referred to as drum spiders, are made of non-protected raw exposed pot metal.

New Spider

The spider is a heavy piece of metal with three arms and a drive shaft which is mounted on the back of most horizontal and vertical stainless steel drum non-agitator washing machines. These washers rotate the drum to agitate and spin-dry the clothes.

Top Load Inner Basket

Vertical or top-load machines have raised bump outs on the bottom of the drum and as the drum rotates, the bumps stir up the water causing the clothes to move in a donut circulatory motion from the center, down, around and up to the outside of the drum. Most new top loading washers no longer have agitators in the middle of the drum extending up from the bottom.

Horizontal or Front-load washers operate very much like clothes dryers in that they have protrusions on the side of the drum. As the drum rotates, the clothes are tumbled over in a circular motion in the same direction as the rotation of the drum. To keep the clothes from becoming tangled and all balled up, the washer changes the direction of rotation every 15 to 30 seconds.

Front Load Inner Basket

These drums are often referred to as baskets because they are perforated to allow water to pass through.

Typical outer drum is in two pieces with rubber gasket between the two halves.

The basket is inside of a larger watertight drum with the drive shaft passing through a water seal and two bearings on the back or bottom of the larger drum. The end of the shaft has either a pulley or a direct drive motor attached to it. On both top-loader and front-loader washers, the basket and the spider are immersed in the water and detergent. The seal on the shaft stops water from leaking past the shaft out of the outer drum.

Corroded Fractured Spider

Because most spiders are made of pot metal, they tend to corrode, rot out and break apart. The combination of water, detergent, and dissimilar metals causes the pot metal to rot out and as a consequence, it becomes weak, cracks and falls apart. Depending on when during the wash cycle the failure occurs, the fast spinning basket full of wet clothing can dislodge itself throwing itself against the outer drum with sufficient force to cause injury and damage to items and structures in the surrounding space.

There are a number of parameters that govern the corrosion of these spiders. This includes the types and quantity of laundry detergent used, the water hardness or minerals in the water, and the frequency of use. However, because the spider is made of pot metal which is in contact with stainless steel that surrounds one side of the spider, a galvanic reaction will inevitable occur, especially in a wet hard-water environment.

The manufacturers are specifying that the washer needs to be flushed out every so often. There’s also talk about installing water softeners to reduce the corrosion. However as every sailor knows, the mineral salts found in soft water are equally as corrosive on pot metal.

The following includes brands equipped with pot metal spiders:

  •  Amana
  •  Bosch
  •  Electrolux
  •  GE
  •  Haier
  •  Kenmore
  •  LG
  •  Maytag
  •  Miele
  •  Samsung
  •  Whirlpool

Regardless of the ratings of such testing organizations like Consumer Reports, the above list of washer brands used by a typical family of 4 with normal use will only last 5 years.


Asko Basket

The only brand I have been able to find that does not have a spider made from pot metal is a Scandinavian washer called Asko. Their spiders are made of stainless steel, the same metal as the basket. The only problem with this washer is that it is a simple no frills machine which is smaller than the normal US washer and costs 20 to 30% more than the gadget-filled Wi-Fi capable top-of-the-line machines like LG Signature Turbowash and Samsung Flexwash.

LG Signature 27” Turbowash - $1,200
Samsung 27” Flexwash - $1,100
Asko 24” bottom-of-the-line 7kg capacity - $1,400
Asko 10kg capacity (equivalent to LG and Samsung) - $2,200

Along with a stainless steel spider, the Asko comes with an all stainless steel inner and outer drum and basket construction.

Samsung Washer Recall

The bottom line for the top-load Samsung washer recall is the failing spiders. These fractured arms are causing the basket to fly off its shaft and be flung against the side of the outer drum with sufficient force to cause damage and in some cases injury. It is not only Samsung, but every manufacturer that employs pot metal spiders. The reason Samsung is being singled out is they are one of the first to use pot metal spiders in their new no-agitator top load washing machines. The reason front-loader washers have escaped this condition is they have more robust suspension built into them. Never the less, when they fail, they can still cause damage.

I have always been an advocate of free enterprise and our system of manufacturing. However, when these manufacturers in seeming collusion manufacture appliances designed to prematurely fail, then this is the time when I believe its government’s role to step in.


I wrote the above after my 5 year old Samsung front-load washer decided to throw a drum. Luckily, it did it when it was in the wash cycle and not while it was spinning at a high rate of speed.

It's just my wife and I who wash clothes and we use laundry detergent sparingly. Never-the-less, this component failed and the cost of having it replaced nearly equals the cost of a new washer. For retirees on a fixed income, this would have been another hardship. However, since I have experience in repairing appliances, I will spend only $200 for parts necessary to get it back up and running.

So, what am I going to do to keep this corrosion from happening again? Well, I thought of having the new spider powder coated. However, along with the $122 part cost, this will cost nearly $300 to have done including prep, coating application and heat treatment time.

I am also contemplating using a metal treatment called POR-15 corrosion preventative. This comes with the cleaner, the metal etching and the paint. I am also going to electrically insulate the spider from the basket.

At this point, I'm not sure.

Wish me luck

S November 17th, 2018