What is galvanic corrosion in a washing machine?

Galvanic corrosion is a type of rust that happens when two different metals in a washing machine react with each other. When two metals such as aluminum and steel are placed together, they can cause galvanic rusting, especially after coming into contact with water.

Additionally, the humid conditions accelerate the formation of such rust.

In technical terms

Galvanic corrosion is a complicated electrochemical process that happens when two different metals touch each other in the presence of an electrolyte. The anode, which is the more active metal, corrodes, while the cathode, which is the less active metal, doesn’t.

Key Takeaways

  • Galvanic corrosion occurs when two different metals come in contact with each other in the presence of water (an electrolyte).
  • The formation of galvanic corrosion or rusting can be a problem with washing machines because they often contain dissimilar metals.
  • Galvanic corrosion is also known as bimetallic corrosion which is a form of rust.
  • The metal that usually corrodes is called the anode, and the other metal is called the cathode.

What causes galvanic corrosion?

There are technically three things that must be present for galvanic corrosion to occur.

  • Contact between two different metals
  • An electrolyte (such as water)
  • Two metals with different electrical potentials

Additionally, high temperatures and environmental factors can also influence the rate of galvanic corrosion.

Furthermore, places where there is a supply of salt water or other electrolytes, are also more susceptible to galvanic corrosion.

Because saltwater is a good conductor of electricity, this kind of corrosion can happen quickly in saltwater environments.

What are the consequences of galvanic corrosion?

The tub and drum of a washing machine may be made of different metals.

If these metals touch each other in an electrolyte, like water, galvanic corrosion can happen over time.

If left unchecked, it can cause serious damage to metal surfaces, and in some cases, it can even cause structural damage and failure.

Washing machine drum spiders are a good example of galvanic corrosion-induced premature wear-outs.

This is because the drum spiders in a washing machine are fixed to support the drum’s movement. In most cases, drum spiders are directly attached to the drum’s base.

The washing machine’s drums are typically made of stainless steel, whereas the spiders are made of aluminum in most cases.

So, there is a chance that galvanic corrosion will happen where these two metals meet.

Also, the metal properties of the nuts and screws that hold the washer’s parts together may be different, which can cause galvanic corrosion.

Another common type of galvanic corrosion occurs when iron and copper pipes are used together for plumbing.

The iron pipe will corrode first, and the copper pipe will wear out at a much slower pace.

Similarly, galvanic corrosion can also occur between aluminum and stainless steel.

In this case, the aluminum will corrode first, and the stainless steel will be relatively unaffected.

How to prevent galvanic corrosion in a washing machine?

You can prevent galvanic corrosion in your washing machine by performing the following checks.

Water Spill

Although water spills are uncontrollable when using a washing machine, you can prevent excess spillage.


If you notice leakage around the washing machine areas, simply get it fixed.

Constant water leakage will cause rusting of various metal parts as well as damage to electrical components.


You should always get your washing machine serviced every six months or at least once a year.

Along with servicing your washing machine, service professionals also clean the metallic parts thoroughly and remove any rust-causing elements.

Nuts and Bolts

As a best practice, during every service, get the rusted or worn-out nuts and bolts replaced.

Make sure these tiny securing elements are of the highest quality, such as stainless metals.

Self Service

If you notice the appearance of rust, then you should take action to clear the rusting surfaces in your washing machine.

For light rusting, you can put vinegar on the area and use a toothbrush to brush it off.

Finally, wipe the surface with a clean cloth and let it dry evenly.


Using a barrier between dissimilar metals can also prevent galvanic corrosion from occurring.

For example, you can use paint like epoxy resin before putting together different kinds of metals, like the drum spider.

Dielectric Union

You can use a dielectric union between two different metals in your washing machines.

This is perfect for the pipes and water supply that are connected to the washing machine.

For example, if you have two pipes of dissimilar metals, you can use a dielectric union to join them to prevent galvanic corrosion.

In most cases, these unions are made using lead-free brass or galvanized steel.

Other practices

  • Do not leave the washer’s drum in a damp state for longer.
  • Remove damp garments right after the wash cycle completes.
  • Ensure to keep the door open after removing the damp garments from the washtub.

How to get rid of galvanic corrosion in a washing machine?

You can try a few methods to get rid of galvanic corrosion from the washer’s affected surface.

If the corrosion is minor, you can clean it with a soft cloth and soapy water.

Whereas, if the corrosion is more severe, you can use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove the corroded area.

Gently sand the area with 60-grit sandpaper until the corrosion is gone.

Once the majority of the corrosion has been removed, you can rinse the area with clean water and dry it off.

If there is still some residual corrosion, you can repeat this process until all of the corrosion has been removed.

Additionally, you may also need to use a chemical stripper to remove heavy corrosion.

Final Thoughts

Galvanic corrosion can happen easily and quickly.

In fact, it can cut down the lifespan of some key internal components of your washer by half.

So, it’s important that you make some wise decisions by avoiding the causes and taking preventive measures to reduce the risk of corrosion.

It all starts with simple checks and regular maintenance.

Thus, it’s a good idea to check and clean the affected areas regularly to prevent corrosion in the first place.

The greater your investment in prevention, the less you will have to worry about curing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you protect aluminum from galvanic corrosion?

The best way to protect the aluminum surface from galvanic corrosion is to coat it with paint or anodize it.

What are the three essential conditions for galvanic corrosion to take place?

The three essential conditions for galvanic corrosion to take place are:
1. Two or more dissimilar metals should touch each other.
2. An electrolyte, such as water or salt water, should be present.
3. An electrical continuity between the two metals.

What causes spider arm corrosion in Samsung washing machines?

There are several factors that can cause spider arm corrosion in Samsung washing machines, some of them are the use of hard water, the buildup of minerals and other debris on the spider arms, the use of detergents that contain bleach or other corrosive chemicals, the presence of moisture or humidity, and the exposure of the spider arms to high temperatures.

Which type of lubricant prevents galvanic corrosion?

Anticorrosive lubricants such as TEF-GEL or Lanocote can be used to prevent galvanic corrosion.

Does copper grease stop galvanic corrosion?

Copper grease not only helps to prevent galvanic corrosion but also galling.

Why is galvanic corrosion a problem?

Galvanic corrosion is a problem because it accelerates the normal corrosion of a metal in an electrolyte. Therefore, reducing the life expectancy of the metal exposed to galvanic corrosion in the long run.

What are the symptoms of galvanic corrosion?

Most of the time, galvanic corrosion shows up as blue or greenish-white spots on the surface of the metal. Other symptoms include the formation of pits, cracks, or flakes on the metal surface.

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at) portablelaundry.com