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Has your washing machine glass door shattered?

Exploding washing machine

Which? Convo community members have helped us uncover hundreds of cases of exploding washing machines. We’ve now talked with experts to find out why this is happening.

We first covered exploding washing machine glass doors on Which? Conversation in 2012, and the response was overwhelming. Almost 100 different commenters reported that their machine’s door had shattered.

Combining those comments with reports from a variety of other sources, we were able to unearth 280 reports of washing machine, washer-dryer or tumble dryer glass doors cracking or shattering.

Most interestingly, 41% of the reports we uncovered were about Beko machines, much higher than Beko’s market share (between 10% and 20%). You can read more about this in our online news story, with in-depth analysis in the May issue of Which? magazine.

‘280’ might be a tiny number compared with the tens of millions of washing machines in UK homes, but the potential danger posed by a shattering glass door is huge. And for those whose machines have exploded, it can be a traumatic experience. Rhona told us:

The stories that washing machine owners shared with us were crucial to our research – so please do continue to share them, as we want to keep investigating this issue.

Why washing machine doors explode

There’s no single clear and obvious reason why these glass doors are shattering. We’ve talked to several experienced repairers, who all agreed that it’s likely to be a combination of factors.

Hard items left in the wash, such as coins, belt buckles or even metal buttons, can hit the glass door at high speed and weaken it over time. The advice here is to put items which have metal parts in a laundry bag before adding them to the wash.

Over-filling the machine can also put excessive pressure on the glass door, with Which? Trusted Trader Chris Talabi telling us: ‘A good rule of thumb is that when you close the door, the clothes should fill up two-thirds of the porthole’.

And under-filling could be part of the problem too. Neil Howieson, secretary of the national trade association for domestic appliance repairers (DASA), told us:

‘Some people tend to wash large or heavy items such as bath mats and large towels on their own. These types of items are extremely heavy once wet. Without other items in the drum to balance them out, the machine might not work as it should.’

Changes to washing machines may also be a factor. Washing machine doors have tended to get larger in recent years, which not only means they’re more prone to being hit, but the larger surface area can make the glass more likely to break. Higher spin speeds can also cause items to hit the door with greater impact. Chris Talabi doesn’t use his machine at anything above 1,200rpm, for example.

Then there’s the fact that washing machines are cheaper than ever, which could have affected the quality of glass doors. However, without testing old doors against newer ones, we can’t be sure about that.

What can be done about exploding machines?

Unfortunately, solving this problem isn’t as simple as making unbreakable glass doors.

One possible solution that several repairers suggested was for manufacturers to add a plastic layer to the door, which will keep glass in the machine if it explodes. Bosch, LG, Miele, Samsung and Siemens have introduced this on some of their newer models and we believe that other brands should consider doing the same.

And there’s another solution which would be even safer – eliminate the door altogether. Old-style top-loading washing machines – which have a hatch in the top of the machine instead of a glass door – have been the norm for years in the USA. Could they become more widespread here? The repairers we spoke to didn’t think so, and the top-loading models we’ve reviewed have tended to be unimpressive.

Would you be more likely to buy a washing machine if it had a plastic cover over the glass window? And would you consider buying one without a window at all?

To keep informed on safety issues, we recommend you register appliances for free on registermyappliance.org.uk. It’s run by the manufacturers trade body, Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances.

Comments

Just had the door glass explode on Samsung eco bubble washing machine.Large shards of glass all over the utility room

Hi Ann – How old is your machine? I hope you took photos.

Most people refer to doors exploding and producing small fragments of glass. This is alarming but these fragments are unlikely to cause serious injury. Shards of glass are much more dangerous.

As I explained above, incomplete toughening produces large shards.
Hopefully we might learn more about this problem if Which? talk to the manufacturers and discuss the problem with the glass industry and other European consumer groups who, presumably, see the same problems. As they are on BSI committees they could find out more from them as well.

Anne minshall says:
3 December 2020

Just had door explode on my beko eco wmb 81445 lw washing machine. Normal wash nothing out of ordinary. Tiny bits of glass everywhere and I have cats and dogsv

linda scott says:
16 December 2020

My Beko washing machine door exploded yesterday when I wasn’t even using it. Came home from work to find glass everywhere!

Hi Linda, sorry to hear about this. Hope nobody was hurt. How old was your machine? Have you had a chance to contact the retailer or Beko?

@chiragkhetiya – We have had reports of glass doors shattering for a number of years and Which? has reported over 40% were Beko, well above their market share.

Questions have been asked of Which? about standards governing glass doors and whether the manufacture and quality control of Beko was adequate, which looks on the face of it to be pretty poor. Which? appears not to have followed up any of these suggestions and concerns. Why not? Or is Which? content to simply report these problems?

@chiragkhetiya – Hi Chirag. In the introduction we are told: “Bosch, LG, Miele, Samsung and Siemens have introduced this [plastic to provide protection] on some of their newer models and we believe that other brands should consider doing the same.” I have not seen any information about machines with plastic guards in the washing machine review. I’d be grateful if you could ask the relevant team about this.

linda scott says:
18 December 2020

It’s only year old. I am planning to phone Beko but just ordered a new glass online to save any delay with Covid and Christmas. Won’t be buying another Beko appliance. My Beko dishwasher didn’t last long either!

Hi Linda – I suggest that you don’t use the maximum spin speed on your washing machine. Not only will it reduce the risk that the door glass breaks again but it will reduce wear on bearings and the motor. Door glass breakage was not a problem when machines had lower spin speeds.

Door glass breakage should not be a problem if it is moulded and processed correctly. I don’t know what evidence exists of spin speed vs breakage, nor of unbalanced loads at any speed putting higher stresses on the door.

Beko appear to stand out as the prime offender in w/m glass shattering, and into dangerous shards. Are there sufficient breakages to flag up a problem worth Which? investigating? Do other countries experience the same problems?

Like wavechange, I’d avoid high spin speeds because of excess wear, particularly on a cheaper machine.

Jillian Brunett says:
15 January 2021

I have a Samsung front-load washing machine, Model WF45R6100A, and the interior glass door shattered in the middle of a load of wash. I was 2 small blankets and the flat sheet of a twin size bed. It came out of nowhere. It is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen. Now I can’t open the door because it’s locked as it was in the middle of a cycle and there are GIANT glass shards everywhere inside.

Richard Jaques says:
8 February 2021

We’ve just had this issue on a Sharp tumble dryer – dryer on a low heat setting drying towels and the whole glass door disintegrated into the drum. The machine is less than 3 months old! Unfortunately the model was also a Which Best Buy

Hi Richard – I suggest you contact the company you bought the dryer from and hopefully they will arrange a free repair.

Marion Marshall says:
28 February 2021

My glass on my washing machine has just shattered any advice my guarantee has ran out

It’s not a major disaster. A replacement glass is about £15-£30 + shipping.

Anyone handy with a screwdriver should be able to replace it, although you may need a special Torx bit (6 pointed star). Lots of YouTube videos.

Marion – My advice is that, if your washing machine was loaded at the time, you should take very great care when removing the laundry. With gloves on, transfer it into a bowl or tub, take it outside, shake it vigorously and hang it out to dry; then shake it vigorously again. Sweep up and dispose of any fragments. Any pieces of glass left in the drum should be removed with a vacuum cleaner.

My beko door has just exploded , I was looking in the window as my machine was making a loud noise , and literally 2 seconds after I moved it exploded, I have huge shards of glass that would have killed me! As well a little bits , My clothes are all shredded as the machine took forever to turn off! I have a expended plan on the machine , so they are coming out next week, but think they will just change the door!! But the drum is full of glass and the little humps in the drum are also broken! Let’s see what the engineer says!
It was a terrifying experience!

Beko, when a survey was last done, came out way ahead of anyone else for broken glass doors. I keep hoping Which? will investigate this properly, look at what regulations if any apply to moulded glass doors, and suggest what should be done – through an international standard for example.

In the meantime they might perhaps (if they have not already) put a warning against Beko washing machines that their glass doors are more prone to breakage than other brands.

@gmartin, George, is Which? minded to do anything?

We have a Beko washing machine which is 8 months old, on Saturday the door exploded leaving shards of glass stuck in the wall opposite the machine, all the clothes are ruined , I spoke to Beko who wasn’t too concerned and said they would not be compensating for our ruined clothes etc they gave me a engineer visit for next Thursday which I escalated and got it changed to today(I spoke to engineers as Beko staff wouldn’t do it), I have told Beko I am contacting trading standards to which they then rang back asking if they could uplift the washer today and replace it to which I have refused as there is the damaged clothes to resolve.

Chris – My personal view is that it would be in your interests to accept the replacement machine and deal with the damage to the clothing as a separate claim.

Refusing the replacement machine does not give you any special leverage in getting compensation for the damaged clothing and it could seriously delay your ability to get your laundry activity back on schedule. The company could just offer to supply and fit a new door in due course but by accepting the offer you will be getting a new machine immediately.

Some of the clothes might not be damaged and just need a good shake-out and then a rinse and spin to make sure there are no glass fragments left.

I agree with John and suggest not using the highest spin speed, irrespective of which machine you have. As well as increasing the chance of door glass breakage, high spin speeds will shorten the life of the motor and the drum bearings. I run mine at a maximum of 1200 rpm.

Glass doors should not shatter to the degree Beko ones do, from past reports. The glass may well have left small sharp particles stuck in clothing that washing will not remove, so I would be very careful what clothes I resurrected.

Which? should warn potential purchasers of BEKO machines that they are more prone to glass breakage than other machines. Would I accept another BEKO machine? No, but unless you can get a refund you may have no choice.

It is quite true that a higher spin speed will wear bearings more quickly and, with cheaper machines, lead to a shorter life. However, with correctly made glass doors that should not be an issue.

Glass doors should be protected from dangerous breakage by being correctly manufactured – either very substantial, properly toughened, protected with a plastic film or shield for example.

If Which? attended the relevant BSI committees they could discuss this, and other appliance safety problems, with a view to amending international safety standards. Regrettably, as I understand it, they have no interest in doing so.

Chris, Just make sure you take plenty of photos that show the extent of the damage. Not sure if it is legal, but recording a conversation with an engineer might be interesting.

I set the spin speed for heavy loads such as towels or jeans to 800 rpm. At the end of the cycle, I make sure all the washing is loose and evenly distributed then give it a 1200 rpm spin.

Tom Bunko says:
18 April 2021

Today our Miele glass door exploded. Of course, we are only about 2-3 weeks out of warranty. Bought Miele, as we figured a quality machine will last longer. This is the shortest life span of any washing machine we have ever bought…..

Hi Tom – You might get some goodwill from Miele, such as a free repair, but they have no legal responsibility. Your legal rights are against the retailer and perhaps it would be worth subscribing to Which? Legal for advice.

I suggest not using your machine at the highest spin speed, which will reduce the risk of the glass breakage and also reduce the wear on the motor and drum bearings.

While subscribing to Which? Legal is not bad advice ot should not be necessary. We should not have to pay £108 a year plus a £29 joining fee when basic consumer rights should be clear to all. They are well-explained on line.
Which? should also be pushing to have them clearly summarised and displayed in all stores, on all sellers websites, and take action against retailers who abuse them, like one well known and extensively reported high street electrical and electronic chain.

It would be very hard to show that there was an inherent manufacturing defect in a piece of glass that caused it to shatter. There are tiny stresses in glass that come from the moulding and cooling process that can never be eliminated. Sometimes a hairline scratch is enough to start the failure of a weak point. The actual breakage may not occur for days afterwards.

Every impact with a zip or a coin accidentally left in a pocket can contribute to damage to a glass door. My first experience of delayed breakage was when a drinking glass made of toughened glass ‘exploded’ on a shelf when I was at school.

After 34 years of use the door glass of my Philips machine was noticeably abraded in one area, but it did not break.

It depends upon how the glass door is manufactured. I have tried in vain to find much information or standards. I suspect some will simply be moulded out of thick glass to give it inherent strength; if that does break it will produced sharp shards.

Some (maybe most) are thermally toughened that puts stress in the outer skin and resists impact, but if broken should break into small safe pieces. But the glass is susceptible to skin damage – a nick on the edge, scratch, for example – which will cause it to spontaneously shatter. However, toughening a shaped moulded door is difficult to do properly and requires specialist equipment, technique and quality glass. Done less well and it will only be partially toughened so still break into dangerous pieces. Beko don’t seem the best at this judging by the number of door breakages reported (in a Which? Convo).

Various options have been proposed that will contain the pieces in the event of breakage, such as a sprayed plastic film, or prevent them entering the room, such as a plastic cover. Some think there is no need for a transparent door at all.

We could get answers, perhaps, to some of these questions and consideration of alternative proposals if they were discussed at international level, accessed via the BSI. If Which? contributed to these committees by taking up BSI’s invitation to join them we might make more progress on product safety matters, or better understand the issues and initiatives involved. Maybe they don’t have the right people to contribute effectively, but it does seem to be a real deficiency when claiming to represent consumers? Better inside the tent p-ing out than outside the tent p-ing in?

Tom – At the end of the Introduction to this Conversation is a line in red saying “Your rights if your washing machine explodes”.

That is a link to Which? guidance which for convenience I repeat here –
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product-aTTEK2g0YuEy

Malcolm wrote: “While subscribing to Which? Legal is not bad advice ot should not be necessary. We should not have to pay £108 a year plus a £29 joining fee when basic consumer rights should be clear to all. They are well-explained on line.” I presume you could pay £38 and join for a month, which could be cheaper than having to pay for the door to be replaced.

Since our statutory rights under the CRA are not any form of guarantee, claimants can be asked to prove that a product does not meet the legal requirements unless the retailer. As Em has said, that could be difficult. Which? Legal sometimes reports on some very satisfactory outcomes for consumers and I thought that if Tom asked for advice from Which? Legal we might all learn what can be achieved.