Which? warns of exploding washing machine doors

There have been hundreds of cases of glass doors on washing machines ‘exploding’, according to a new report.

An investigation by Which? claims to have uncovered 280 reports of washing machine, washer-dryer and tumble-dryer glass doors cracking or shattering.

While occurring across a range of big- and minor-name brands, Beko, it said, was the main offender, with 115 (41 per cent) cases involving the appliance manufacturer. This far outweighed the next big brand, Hotpoint, with 10 per cent.

Which? estimated that the number of Beko cases was much higher than the brand’s market share, which is between 10 and 20 per cent.

Which? said that when it asked why this was happening, Beko commented that it “happens from time to time” across all products and brands. Beko is quoted as saying: “The issue is extremely rare – out of more than three million washing machines sold by Beko since 2010, there have been 115 reported incidents, less than 0.003 per cent.”

Incidents reported to Which? dated back as far as 2010 and didn’t follow any particular pattern, with some exploding after a handful of uses and others after several years. The majority of occurrences involved washing machines.

Experts that Which? spoke to suggested that these incidents were likely to have been due to a combination of factors, rather than a single cause.

They said that potential causes could be hard items being put in the wash, such as coins, keys, nails or belt buckles, which can hit the glass door at high speed and weaken it over time.

They also said that over- or under-filling a washing machine could put excessive pressure on the glass door.

It was suggested that another cause of the shattering doors could be the changes in washing machine door sizes. In recent years, machine doors have been getting bigger as a result of increasing drum sizes. The Which? experts said a larger door is more prone to being struck by hard objects in the machine. The larger surface area, they said, also makes the glass more likely to break if hit.

Higher spin speeds, which have been a trend over the past six or seven years, could also cause items to hit the door with greater impact, Which? claimed.

Some other big-name brands included in the reports were Indesit and Zanussi.

When contacted by ERT for further comment, a Beko spokesman said: “Safety is our first priority. While we are taking this matter very seriously, it is important to emphasise that this issue is extremely rare. Out of more than three million washing machines sold by Beko since 2010, only a small percentage experience any issue. Which? themselves recognise that instances of washing machine glass smashing are ‘extremely slim’.

“It is, however, difficult for us to comment on Which?’s research, as until today we have not been made aware of their methodology and haven’t been given access to their data. At first examination, the research methodology used appears to be far from robust and has therefore painted a misleading and inaccurate picture of an issue that in reality is extremely rare. We hope it does not cause unwarranted concern among the millions of happy Beko customers who have safe products.

“The glass used in all Beko washing machines adheres to strict European standards to ensure that, in the unlikely event that it does break, it breaks safely into pieces with rounded edges, regardless of their shape, meaning there are no risk of cuts. We note that the Which? report does not identify any cases where injuries have occurred.

“We advise customers to adhere to the maximum load amount for their particular washing machine. Exceeding this maximum can, on the rare occasion, increase pressure within the drum and put excess strain on the glass. As a general rule, a machine should never be loaded more than two-thirds of its maximum.”