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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

Which? sits on a BSI committee that deals with the safety of electrical appliances. It might enquire on the incidence of failures of glass doors to see whether there is something that could be added to the international standard. It could also ask its European sister consumer groups about the incidence of glass breakage to see if it is a significant issue among their users.

We have had a number of reports over the years in Convos, but has anyone collated the numbers to see if any particular manufacturer stands out? If they do it could be worth including the information in their product reviews, or even making them “don’t buys”.

M.M. says:
27 April 2019

Hi!
Thank you for making me fear my washer from now on! lol (jk)
Well I never experienced an exploding washer door before but I’m having another problem that’s making me think I will soon experience that as well. I own a Kenwood 7kg Superspin 1400 (unfortunatley made in Turkey). It’s been a while since it starts to tour the house on its own when I turn it on! I used to fill it to the level the guy who installed it told me, which is filling it with clothes until I can still slip my hand easily on top of them all. For my dancing washer problem I went to other professionals and they told me that I need to fill the washer more and that a 4cm free space on top of the clothes should be enough. I tried once and it didn’t work. The washer still was roaming around in the kitchen. Now I’m about to try filling it more for the second time and I’m nervous that the glass might shatter. I live in an apartment with mean neighbors which makes dealing with such possible messes much worse.
I truly wish they added the plastic layer or made the glass unbreakable one way or another. I’d definitely pay the extra bit for that. The idea of a glass door that’s holding plenty of soap and water back in a kitchen full of electrical wires and wooden cabinets, breaking is horrific to be honest. And if I have a choice I’d NEVER get a top washer like the ones in the US. The front ones that all other countries use are way better, for the environment as well, it’s just that until they make the glass unbreakable, this will be a con to such machines.

Last September (2018) we bought an AEG waher dryer,model L7WEE965R 9.for our daughter.Last night at 10:00pm whilst the machine was nearing the end of the wash cycle the glass door exploded. My dughter isolated the power and tried to open the door but it remained locked. trying the emergency opening tab proved ineffective.
I am now prepairing to negociate with Currys.Not very confindent of the outcome.

I can’t imagine how scary that must be, not to mention frustrating!

Good luck with Currys. If you need some guidance, here is our page on consumer rights around faulty products.

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

Doug Black says:
28 July 2019

Brand new Beko washer drier, BANG! Door exploded! Glass everywhere, luckily one of the models with the plastic door shield, but what a mess inside!! Called Beko and they didn’t really seem to give 2 hoots saying a week for an engineer to take a look (its exploded, not much to look at but glass all over) thumbs up to AO the retailer, callled then and they are delivering a replacement tomorrow.

Jayne Hartley says:
5 August 2019

Just had this same experience – Beko washing machine door which was open and hadn’t been used in over a day – suddenly and without warning exploded showering me and the kitchen floor with shards of very sharp glass. Because I was wearing a thick dressing gown none cut me (got a teensy splinter in my foot a day later). Beko sent an engineer but say because it is out of warranty (6 year old machine) it is none of their business. They won’t even arrange to disconnect it and recycle it – I will need to either do it myself or pay someone.
I would have thought this serious enough for Beko to arrange to retrofit a plastic film over all their washing machine doors to prevent it from killing someone. If my pets or a toddler had been in front of the door it would have been a much more serious outcome.

Please can you post a photo, Jayne? The fact that the door has exploded implies that it is made of toughened glass. Toughened glass is used for many products (e.g. car side windows, shower cubicles and washing machine door glass) because it typically produces small pieces about the size of a pea when broken rather than long sharp shards.

As Doug mentions above, there are some models of washing machine with a shield to contain broken glass. Maybe one day we will be able to buy machines with a metal door.

Hi Jayne, thanks for that interesting post and good to hear that you survived without major injury.

As a retired safety engineer, I think Beko are correct to say that they have no obligations to hand out free repairs for old washing machines (e.g. in accordance with the Consumers Rights act) but, that said, I do not think there is any set time limit to their potential legal liability in regard of dangerous products (i.e. in accordance with product liability legislation, as per EU Directive 85/374/EEC on liability for defective products, aka the Product Liability Directive).

For more information, see this website:-https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/w-013-0564?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true&bhcp=1

This might also be an area that Which? Legal could help with…

Here’s a somewhat complacent industry view of the problem, see:-https://www.ukwhitegoods.co.uk/help/fix-it-yourself/washing-machine-washer-dryer/3529-washing-machine-door-glass-failures

Clearly, if these washing machine glass failures are producing sharp and potentially hazardous shards, then they’re aren’t made of proper toughened safety glass.

As the linked trade article shows, it easy for manufacturers to become complacent about this kind of problem, by attributing the failures to either fair wear and tear on older machines or user abuse.

The manufacturer has no responsibility for repair or other remedy unless the machine was bought directly rather than via a retailer.

I think you are right that a manufacturer cannot place a time limit on their liability for dangerous goods and that it would be useful to have this confirmed by Which? Legal. In Jayne’s case, the machine is six years old and unless it could be shown that this model had a significantly worse record than other washing machines it seems unlikely that the manufacturer will act or would be held responsible.

I suspect that what has happened with Jayne’s machine is that the glass has been gradually damaged by abrasion (e.g. by metal zips) and by repeated contact with hard objects (e.g. buttons and maybe the odd coin) and has eventually failed explosively as a result of energy stored when the glass was toughened.

It is difficult to thermally toughen a deep glass moulding, like a washing machine door, because you have to raise it to its softening point before chilling, which takes it to the borderline of distortion. It requires, in my experience, specialised equipment to do it successfully. If it is not taken to a high enough temperature then the toughening process will not be optimal and instead of breaking into small safe-edge glass fragments, larger and sharper shards will result.

If you collect such large sharp fragments then this indicates inadequate toughening. If you live in England and the appliance was up to 6 years old then you should be able to claim via the retailer as this would show a fault that was present when new. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 would then require the retailer to provide a repair or replacement (your choice, unless one is more disproportionately expensive to the other). The CRA is of no help after 6 years.

I think the key issue here is how the door glass strength was intended to be achieved in the first place. If it was by thermal toughening and the door produced dangerous shards of glass, then the door was not properly toughened. It is irrelevant whether you damaged the door through abrasion from zips, say. If it failed unsafely then it failed the contract requirements and a fault existed from new.

If the door was simply moulded of sufficient thickness to provide strength, not toughened, then I’d suggest you have no case. However it should not “explode”, but simply crack and break. The fact you say it exploded suggests it was (partially) toughened.

We have had a number of reports of door glass breakage, and my impression is a number concerned Beko. @abbysempleskipper, Abby, it would be useful if Which? investigated the requirements for washing machine door glass safety (BSI) to see how people with breakages can best be advised.

April Connolly says:
22 September 2020

I just went down to put my laundry in the dryer & when I opened the door the glass on my LG washer, which I bought 5 months ago, exploded everywhere. Across the room & into my laundry basket. It was terrifying. I called for repair, but I’m still waiting for a technician to call & schedule an appointment. Usually my 3 yr. grandson helps me take the laundry out, but he thankfully wasn’t here today. This is terrifying!

Just sat watching tv, and thought what the bloody hell, washing machine door exploded. Beko was her maximum of 2 years old

Nina says:
1 November 2019

Another Beko here. The glass door in our Beko washing machine exploded into hundreds of shards. Glass went everywhere including the worktop and the clothes in the machine were shredded. Customer service disinterested. Going to try and complain further up but I will probably be fobbed off. Not sure who else I can contact in view of how unsafe it was. Any advice appreciated.

Another Beko washing machine here, put it on for a drum clean and some minutes later it exploded. Less than 2 years old. Continued to spin whilst spitting out water and grinding the glass.

BEKO machines seems to be the main culprit , from reports in Convos. It suggests their quality control is inadequate or they use a poor supplier. BEKO machines figure in Which? Best Buys. In view of glass problems perhaps they should be labelled by Which? as “don’t buys because” as was done to Whirlpool tumble dryers and plastic backed fridges?

I would prefer the option of a metal door, which would not only eliminate the problem of glass breakage but help contain fire in the event of electrical failure. Some washing machines have a guard to protect the user if the door breaks, but that will not prevent fragments. of glass damaging clothing in the machine, the door seal and other components.

Glass breakage seems extremely rare in most washing machines, as do washing machine fires. “41% of the reports we uncovered were about Beko machines,” says there is a problem here that needs dealing with, or warning about. Glass can be coated to retain fragments in case of failure.

13 month Beko washing machine door exploded on last spin As it’s out of warranty they don’t want to know. Absolutely dangerous I am so nervous now about this that I am trying to find out which machineS (not beko) have safety film over door. Was also in long sharp bits of glass as well as small.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

My Beko washing machine is probably about 7 or 8 years old. It was on final stages of spin when the door exploded. The glass was flying around as it was slowing down from the spin and I was just about to walk in to the kitchen. I stepped back out of the way. Nobody hurt and nothing else damaged. Obviously could do without it just before Christmas

Mary says:
5 January 2020

My 6 week old Beko washing machine had the glass door explode last night. Glass everywhere! Beko are sending an engineer out on Thursday. It worries me they are not taking this seriously, it’s obviously a fault. I am glad my machine is in the utility with the door closed. My children or dogs would have been seriously hurt! As it is we have shoes and coats covered in shards of glass which even though we hoover it up we keep finding more. Some was in the hood of the coat which was hanging up on a coat hook high up! I really hope Beko take it seriously, Appliances online passed the buck to Beko, even transferred me to them. I will be speaking to trading standards tomorrow!

This is a Which? report in April 2016 –
https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/exploding-washing-machines-doors/
“Beko washing machine doors exploding
115 (41%) of the 280 reports we uncovered are about Beko machines, far more than the next brand (Hotpoint, 10%). The figure is much higher than Beko’s market share, which we estimate to be 10% to 20%. If glass doors shattering affected all brands equally, you wouldn’t expect to see this many complaints about Beko machines.

There seem to have been many more reports of Beko glass doors failing. Perhaps some action should be taken in what would appear to be an unsafe component, probably down to inferior manufacture?

Hi Mary – If there is broken glass inside the machine it is possible that it could damage the door seal or other parts, so please make sure that you have evidence that it has been repaired.

AO, as the retailer, is legally responsible for dealing with faults. It’s common for retailers to pass the buck, but don’t hesitate to go back to AO if there is a problem.

I hope you have photos of the damage and if so you could mention this when speaking to Trading Standards. Best of luck.

Ours is in the garage, I was in the kitchen and thought the sound of water was loud, the door has exploded and water and glass is all over the garage floor. Thankfully I walked in whilst it was draining and before it hit the spin cycle. There was glass on the floor and all in the drum over all the clothes. Beko are not at all interested as it is now over the 1 year warranty. I can’t imagine if anyone had walked in a few minutes later.

Kelly says:
26 April 2020

Today my beko door smashed while in the final spin. Glass all inside and on the floor. washer less than 5 months old.

Hi Kelly – You have the choice of claiming against the retailer (not the manufacturer) under the guarantee or the Consumer Rights Act. Under the CRA a fault is assumed to be present at the time of manufacture unless the retailer proves otherwise. There is advice on making a claim for a free repair on the Which? website: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product#was-a-fault-present-at-purchase

Best of luck and I hope that the current lockdown does not delay getting the problem sorted out.

Natalie says:
7 May 2020

On Monday evening I put a washing on, I started hearing loud banging against Glass coming from the machine during its spin cycle and on entering the kitchen the glass door exploded during the cycle!!. I purchased the washing machine in October 2019. When I spoke to Beko they didn’t seem too surprised that this had happened they asked me to provide date of Purchase, when I told them it was registered they insisted I give them a date before they could book an engineer (surely they can see a registered product) and I should call back . The washing machine was not overloaded and clothing was shredded.
Product Code: WTB1401R4W

angela says:
27 July 2020

I have owned a miele washing machine for about 6 years? may be longer . The glass door exploded on the final spin .

After six years the retailer has no legal responsibility for handling claims for faulty products, so it would be worth contacting the manufacturer in the hope that you might get a price reduction on a repair.

In the days when washing machines had lower spin speeds, door glass breakage was virtually unknown and I had an 800 rpm spin machine that survived for over 30 years. I run my Miele machine at a maximum of 1200 rpm to reduce the risk of door glass breakage.

Lucia says:
28 August 2020

I live in italy and l have a beko model bought in october 2019. 2 days ago I used the last time the washing machine and yesterday evening, when I returned home, I found hundreds of small pieces of Glass and 1 bigger piece on the floor of my bathroom. This morning I contacted the retail, after few minuts I was called by the Beko assistance who said that Glasses generally are not covered by warranty, but in this strange case the entire door of the washer will be replaced without any money. Now I think that it can be a fault of production or of thoughened process but in your opinion it is necessary to open an official claim to Beko???