Washer Toss Game Rules (Game Etiquette)

If you’re off camping soon and looking for fun activities for your friends, family, and yourself, Washer toss should certainly be on your list. Also known as Washers, this game is fun for all ages and is pretty easy to play such as corn hole and life-size Jenga. (If you haven’t played these games yet, add them to your activity list too!)

Whether you know it as Washer toss, Washers, Hillbilly horseshoes, Sewers & washers, or Tailgate toss, the rules are the same. Whatever you call it, it is a perfect game for passing the time at different outdoor gatherings.

Nobody really knows where Washer toss originated. Many agree that it was started at some kind of get-together but where and when is shrouded in mystery.

Some believe that it was invented by ancient civilizations while its ancestry has been traced back to the travel breaks of early American pioneers. These people were thought to have used spare washers from their wagon wheels to play the great game.

The most widely believed theory, however, is that it started in the Texas oil fields during the early parts of the 20th century where field workers passed their free time by tossing around washers from the oil derricks. 

Where it originated doesn’t matter today. Instead, we are going to focus on the rules of Washer toss so you can play it with family and friends at your next gathering. 

The Terminology In Washer Toss 

As with many games, it is best to learn the terminology before you start playing it. While you could use words like cup and box, it’s just more fun and sounds fancier when using the correct terminology. 

So, before we get started with the rules of Washer toss, here are some of the terminologies you should use:

  • Washer Pit – This is a wooden box that contains one recessed cup measuring around four inches in diameter. This can be made from plastic or cardboard. Washer toss has two washer pits, positioned around 24 feet apart from each other. 
  • Washer – The Washer is a metal or plastic coin with a specific color. It is thrown toward the washer pit in order to score points. The whole game has four washers, two of the same color. 
  • Cupper – If a player gets a washer inside a cup, this is known as a cupper. 
  • Round – This is when all the washers have been tossed and points have been awarded. 
  • Skunk – Don’t worry, there’s nothing smelly here! This is a game when one player or team has scored 11 points while the opposition has scored zero after all of their turns. 

So, there is the rundown of the terms used during Washer toss. Now, you know what to say during the game, let’s move and find out what the rules are. 

Washer Toss – Rules 

This is a game of skill with similar comparisons to horseshoes and bocce ball. However, Washers is a far more popular sport, mainly down to its simplicity to understand and play. Scoring a perfect ringer with horseshoes can be a difficult task but throwing a washer into a cup is a much easier thing to do, for all ages. 

Washer toss is also very easy to set up and carry due to its compact size. It can be played with two people or with two teams of up to four people. When teams are playing, a captain must be nominated for each while only one player from each team can be designated to toss the washers for each round. 

So, let’s see what the rules are so you can start playing as soon as possible.


1. Starting The Game

When you begin the game, you need to position the washer pits at a distance of approximately 25 feet apart. After positioning these pits on the ground, each player must sit next to the same pit and then toss the washers into the opposite pit. During the next turn, the game will reverse.

Most lawn games tend to start with a coin toss but Washers begins with a diddle. This is when each thrower throws a washer toward the opposite pit. The player or team that got the washer closest to the cup or who has scored a cupper starts the game. 

2. Toss The Washers

The main objective is to get the washers into the cup or as close to it as possible. The player who won the diddle begins the game by throwing both washers toward the opposition’s pit. 

If you’re playing with standard washer pits, the player is allowed to sit anywhere inside the pit when they toss the washer. If you’re playing in your backyard with no pits, players must sit in front of the cup but no more than one step ahead of it.

Once the first player has thrown both washers, it is then the second player’s turn to toss. They must follow the same rules and positions but from their side.

For the next turn, the player who scored the most points in the first round gets to throw their washers first. 

3. Scoring The Game

Remember, only one player or team can score in each round. The washer’s distance from the cup determines who scores the points. If a washer lands up inside a cup, this is a cupper and worth 5 points. 

If a washer is tossed inside the pit but not in the cup, the point value is 1. 

Only the washer that has landed closest to the cup can score the point. Therefore, a player may receive 1 or 5 points per round. 

When a washer is tossed outside of the pit, no score is awarded. And, if two players both score a cupper, they both get zero points. (How unfair, right?) The same occurs if two players tossed their washer and they end up an equal distance from the cup.

Whoever reaches 21 points first, whether it’s a player or a team, wins the game. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

If a player or team scores 11 points before their opposition has scored anything, the game is called a skunk. This ends earlier as the player with no score is eliminated.

Another rule is if one player or team has scored 17 points while the opponent has only scored 1 point, then the game is called a whitewash. Unfortunately, the player who scored the 1 point is out of the competition.

Washer toss competitions generally last for three games. The player or team who wins at least two of the three games is crowned the champion. (If you want to make a crown, it’s entirely up to you!)

When playing in the backyard, you can adapt all the game rules to fit younger players or even seniors. But, if you’re a teen or an adult, we recommend following the above guidelines. 

Washer Toss Game Etiquette 

For a fair game of Washer toss, gaming etiquette is essential. If you have ever played horseshoes before, it is pretty similar.

Each player is left with the responsibility to settle one pit. Before the game begins, each player must shake hands with their opposition and avoid causing any distractions during the toss or diddle.

After every turn, the players must walk together and inspect the washers to see who is the closest to the cup. Of course, it is possible that one player may accidentally move another player’s cup during their turn. In this instance, the player is fortunate enough to win the round.

It is frowned upon and unacceptable for a player to move any washers before their opposition has agreed with the score. When measuring the distance of the washers from the cup, they are usually approximated with a simple visual inspection.

If the two washers seem to be at the same distance from the cup, then the players must use a ruler to find out whose washer is closest. 

No matter what the outcome is, every game must end amicably. This is done by shaking hands with the opposing player or team and congratulating the eventual winner. 

In Summary 

We told you it was simple! Like most backyard games, it is uncomplicated and fun for all ages. With its flexible rules and chance to play without any pits, Washer toss can become easier for young children and seniors. The washers are also lightweight so they will be easy to use for youngsters.

So, now you know how to play washers, set up a game, and challenge your friends and family to a little competition!