10 Washing Machine Fires Happen Every Week – Is Yours Next?

Ever felt like your washing machine has a vendetta against you? Turns out, it might! Yes, you read that right – Washing machines can and do catch fire in the UK!

It sounds unbelieveable…applainces filled with water catching fire, but the UK government’s stats will surprise you.

In the 2021/22 period, there were 509 reported washing machine fires.

That’s around 10 every week!

How Water-Filled Appliances Catch Fire

Washing machines are supposed to clean your clothes, not barbecue them!

So how do washing machines go from squeaky clean water filled appliances to a raging inferno? Here’s the most common reasons why:

  • Overloading The Drum
    Overloading the drum leads to excessive vibration, which can short circuit electrical components. This can then lead to a fire breaking out.
  • Overloading Your Plug Socket
    Plugging your washing machine into an extension cable or overloading your plug socket can cause a risk of fire.
  • Frayed Electric Cables
    A damaged power cord can spark and ignite a fire.
  • Poor Installation
    Incorrect installation without proper earthing can cause fires or even electrocution.
  • The Motor Could Develop A Fault
    If the motor develops a fault, it can ignite a fire inside the washer that then spreads to the rest of your home.
  • The Drive Belt Could Overheat
    Worn-out drive belts can overheat and cause internal fires.
  • Blocked Drain Pumps
    A blocked drain pump can lead to overheating and fire.
  • Faulty Wiring
    Wiring issues in the machine, wall socket, or circuit breaker can cause the fire.
  • Hose Leak
    Leaks can spray water on electrical components, causing them to short out and catch fire.

So this isn’t one to sleep on. That’s why later in this article we explain what to do and what you can do today to prevent it happening to you.

You Won’t Believe How Common These Fires Are

house fire burning

They’re a lot more common than you’d think! As mentioned earlier, in the year ending 2021/22, there were 509 reported washing machine fires – that means on average there was 1.39 washing machines catching fire per day in the UK.

And remember the Whirlpool recall in 2019? They had to recall 500,000 washing machines due to fire risks from faulty components. Yikes!

In fact, there was one on the 2nd of March 2024 in York[1] where the fire brigade had to get called out to a residential property at 11am to put out a washing machine fire using a foam extinguisher. What a terrifying experience!

And it’s lucky they got there in time to stop it spreading. After putting it out, the fire brigade ventilated the building and removed the washer.

Will things get better in the future as safety improves? We sure hope so, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know what to do if yours catches fire…

Immediately Do This If Yours Catches Fire

What To Do If Your Washing Machine Catches Fire

Act fast, the earlier you notice the fire the less damage it can do. Which is why it’s vital you install smoke alarms near your washer.

Now assuming you now know you have a fire, the very first thing you need to do is unplug the machine or trip the circuit breaker.

This might not be possible however if the fire has progressed too far or is too close, so don’t risk it if it’s too dangerous.

You then need to starve the flames of oxygen using a fire blanket. Never use water on the fire, as it could be an electrical fire, which would be even more dangerous.

Then get your fire extinguisher (CO2 or Dry Powder) out and use it to put out the fire.

FireShield Home Safety Pack, 1kg Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher & 1m x 1m Soft Case Fire Blanket
  • FireShield 1kg Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher
  • Soft Case Fire Blanket 1m x 1m

If things are out of control do not hesitate to call the fire brigade on 999.

How to Prevent This Happening To You

house fire

Don’t freak out and throw your washer out just yet. There are some ways for you to significantly minimise the risk of it happening in your home.

First and foremost, install smoke alarms. I know they’re annoying but they could save your life. And the lives of your loved ones too. Ensure there’s one near your washing machine so it’ll alert you as soon as it happens.

And when you do use the washing machine, always make sure you’re around. Don’t think that just because it does it’s own thing you can go out and leave it or leave it on overnight – you want to make sure a responsible adult is at home whenever it’s on.

In terms of extension cables – don’t use them. You’re far safer plugging the appliance directly into the plug socket. Overloading the socket is a recipe for disaster.

You also want to make sure you stay informed of any product recalls as well. As we said earlier, this is more common than you’d think.

And of course, if you smell any burning smells, turn the washer off immediately and call in a technician. This isn’t something you can ignore and hope it goes away.

As a final note on prevention – was it installed by someone who followed the manufacturers’ instructions? If not, you might want to get that double checked too.

Ever Had A Washing Machine Scare?

Share your stories in the comments!

And if you think your friends need to know this, share this article and keep them safe!

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