How to Play Washer Toss (Rules and Scoring)

Please note that I may earn a small commission from purchases made through product links in this article. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Last updated: February 3, 2022

If you’re looking for a backyard game that’s simple to set up and fun for all ages, then washer toss is a great option for you to consider.

In this article, I will walk you through the washer toss game rules (including some advanced options), how to set up the game, how to keep score, and even a couple of insider tips to help you win.

Let’s get started!

What Is Washer Toss?

Washer toss, also known as washer pitching, tailgate toss, washers, or sewers, is similar to cornholes or horseshoes in that you’re tossing an object trying to get it as close to a set target as possible.

It’s a simple game that is easy to learn for everyone, which makes it that much more fun to play for all ages and fitness levels.

The idea is simple; throw a small round object (washer) into a square-shaped box to earn a point. Bonus points if the washer ends up in a small cup in the middle of the box.

The origins of washer toss is a bit of a mystery, although you might find various stories online diving into where the washer toss game may have been first invented, but I’m not going to bore you with that.

Set of washers
Set of washers

It’s called washer toss or washers because the game revolves around throwing actual washers.

A washer is a thin plate with a hole in the middle that can be used in various ways. Read this article about real washers if you’d like to learn more.

Why do I like this game?

The game at its core is super basic and anyone can learn how to play. But as you play this game more often, you will notice that there is actually quite some skill to be developed to get better and better.

When you can get a few mates together to play regularly, washer toss becomes more than just a fun game. As you play more, your skills will improve, and as such a healthy dose of competitiveness becomes a part of this game.

GoSports Washer Toss Game Set
  • BACKYARD CLASSIC: Includes 2 targets & 8 washers ; fully assembled so friends...
  • HANDCRAFTED: Premium birch wood with mitered corner joints
  • REGULATION SIZE: Set meets regulation size guidelines for practice and...
Are you ready to play this fun game at home? Check out my list of best washer toss sets so you can start playing in your very own backyard tomorrow.

Washer Toss Game Rules for Dummies

To explain how the game and rules of washer toss work, I am going to walk you through the following topics:

  1. Equipment
  2. Game Setup
  3. Game Objective
  4. Game Rules
  5. Keeping Score
  6. Game Terminology
  7. Game Etiquette

Let’s first have a look at the equipment you will need!

1. Equipment

There are two crucial equipment elements in the game of washer toss:

  • Target boxes
  • Washers

First, you will need two target boxes. These are usually either plastic or wooden boxes, measuring about 14×14 or 16×16 inches. In the middle of the box is an open cup or section of a pipe that is about 4 inches wide.

Second, you will need washers. These are round, thin disks with a hole in the middle, and are usually made of metal or plastic. Typically, these are about 2-2.5 inches in diameter. You will need 8 of these (preferably 4 in each color), although some sets come with only 6 washers.

Washer toss game sets are easy enough to make, or you can buy one relatively cheaply online, which is what I always do.

2. Game Setup

You can play washer toss with two players (1 vs 1) or four players (2 vs 2).

Place the target boxes on a flat and open space, about 20 feet apart (though you can shorten or lengthen this based on players’ abilities).

2-Player game:
Players stand on either side of the target box and throw their washers in the same direction. Rotate sides after each round.

4-Player game:
Players from opposing teams stand on either side of the target box, with teammates standing across from each other.

Washer toss field setup
Washer toss field setup (four players)

Who goes first?
This is decided by a “diddle”, where each player throws a washer towards the target box. Whoever has the closest washer to the central cup goes first.

A second diddle happens if there was a tie in the first round.

3. Game Objective

You may have already guessed this, but the objective of the game is to score more points than the other team.

A team or player scores points by successfully throwing their washers into the target box. Whoever scores 21 or more points first, wins.

4. Game Rules

These are the basic rules of washer toss:

  • Each player, or team, alternates turns until all 8 washers have been thrown.
  • Players can toss from either side of the target box (towards the opposite target box) and are allowed to have one foot step forward of the box.
  • A washer can bounce into the box and still earn points.
  • If a washer is thrown and balances on the edge of the box, that player wins the game.

There are also a few more advanced rules to make the game a bit more technical and exciting.

Exacta rule:
A player, or team, has to get exactly 21 points to win, and if they go over, they go back to 15 points and work their way up again.

Skunk rule:
If a player, or team, scores 11 points before the other team scores any points, they win the game.

Whitewash rule:
If a player or team scores 17 points and the other team has scored only 1 point, the team with 17 points wins the game.

5. Keeping Score

The washer toss scoring system is as follows:

  • 3 Points for a washer thrown into the center circle or pipe.
  • 1 Point for a washer that lands in the target box.
  • 0 Points for anything outside the box.

Only 1 team can score points per round. Therefore, each point team A scores takes away from team B’s score. The scores cancel each other out and what remains are the actual points.


Team A:
1 washer in the box (1 point).
1 washer in the pipe (3 points).
-> Team A has scored 4 points.

Team B:
3 washers in the box (3 points).
-> Team B has scored 3 points.

Team B’s 3 points cancel out 3 points from Team A.
As a result, team A has 1 point, and team B has 0 points.

6. Game Terminology

You already know what the washers, the target boxes, and the central cup are, but there are some more funky terms you might hear.

  • Washer Pit:
    This is simply another term for the entire target box with the cup or pipe in the middle.
  • Cupper:
    This is your 3-pointer; when a washer lands inside the cup or the central pipe.
  • On The Fly:
    If it lands straight in the middle cup without hitting anything else.
  • Hanger:
    Elusive, you may never see this! This is when a washer lands on the rim of the cup or pipe (not the box).
  • Hammer:
    When one team’s washer lands on top of the opponent’s washer inside the cup or pipe.

7. Game Etiquette

Playing washer toss is always more fun when teams agree on rules and play together nicely. Here are some tips to keep play friendly:

  • Players agree not to distract their opponent.
  • Whichever team scores the points in the previous round, goes first in the next round.
  • If washers are too similar a distance to determine a winner during the diddle, either use a measuring tape or toss again.

When you’re throwing, throw underhand for best accuracy. Some players like to curl their index finger around the disc, similar to when you skip a rock.

Find a good stance that works for you. You are allowed to put one foot beyond the box, which might help with the trajectory, or anchor in place with your feet hip-width apart. Take note of when a throw works, and repeat that stance and motion.

Final Thoughts

Washer toss is a great game for all ages and fitness levels, the perfect game to play in the backyard.

While the washer toss game rules outlined above are the most commonly accepted ones, you can change it up to make it work for you.

For example, you could move boxes closer, don’t use cancellation scoring, and so much more.

Happy tossing!


How to play washer toss

Thomas Dunnett

The backyard is the perfect place to bond with family and friends, to have a good time, or to simply relax with some fresh air and a bit of sunshine. With this website I am hoping to share my passion for the backyard with you.

Leave a Comment