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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

The problem of glass breakage seems to a general problem and not just confined to a few brands. It was more or less unheard of until machines with high spin speeds and larger drums appeared on the market. My ancient washing machine with an 800 rpm spin speed still has its original door glass.

We acknowledge that windscreens in cars can break so they are made of laminated glass for safety. Laminated glass consists of a sandwich of plastic between two layers of glass, and if the windscreen is broken there are no shards of glass. Another widely used approach is to use toughened glass. If it breaks, the pieces are unlikely to cause injury. Toughened glass might not be good for washing machines because it might be weakened by abrasion, by hard objects, as Matt has explained. It’s good news that some manufacturers have acknowledged that the problem exists and introduced a plastic cover.

But do we need glass doors at all? Dishwashers and top-loading washing machines don’t generally have them.

Like Matt, I’m interested in your comments on this. I’d also like to share that we’ve been out talking with the media to raise awareness of this problem today. Here’s our Alex Neill on Good Morning Britain today: http://www.itv.com/goodmorningbritain/news/is-your-washing-machine-safe

And you can see coverage on The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Mirror among others: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3549091/Now-washing-machine-EXPLODE-New-warning-terrified-families-saw-doors-blow-appliances.html http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/7090121/Wash-and-blow-Safety-warning-over-washing-machines-that-EXPLODE.html http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/hundreds-washing-machine-door-explosions-7791581

From the programme where Alex Neill was interviewed we learned that none of the manufacturers would say how many cases of glass breakage they were aware of. This is a good example of why we should push for companies to be included in Freedom of Information requests. Why should companies be exempt when they hold so much information related to product safety?

Caroline Thomas says:
3 May 2016

Hi Patrick, Our 6 year old Hoover washing machine glass exploded on Saturday, sending shards of glass through the air while on a spin cycle, we had to trip the power to avoid the flying glass and to stop the drum from spinning. It was traumatic. Do you have an email address i can send my photo’s too . Ive emailed Hoover today Thanks Caroline

Hello Caroline, please email them to conversation.comments@which.co.uk Thank you

hi all our hotpoint washer door glass exploded yesterday and what a shock the washer is just over a year old so year warrenty ran out been it touch with hotpoint and there answer is I pay 9.99 a month and an engineer will come out and fix it does anyone recommend any other action thanks

It would be interesting to know the scale of this problem throughout Europe, where no doubt the same machines are used. I’d like to see Which? cooperating generally with the European consumer groups to make better use of resources and give us more comprehensive information. Where the problem warrants a change they could then discuss with the European standards organisation to have the safety standard amended.

But why do we need a glass door anyway? Does anyone know the history? Top loader – no, because of restricted space most machines go underneath worktops.

I understand that front-loading machines use less energy than the top-loaders that are common in the US and Canada, where houses are often larger and space is less of an issue.

Hello Malcolm, we are in touch with other consumer orgs in Europe and around the world about exploding appliances. We’re sharing knowledge and finding out trading standards orgs are doing in each respective country.

I’m also happy to say that we now have an International Campaigns Manager. Their job is to help us to work with other consumer orgs around the world on consumer issues, share knowledge and ideas, identify areas where we can collaborate and find areas where we need change at an international level. This is in a similar way to how we took on car hire with the Spanish consumer org OCU. https://conversation.which.co.uk/travel-leisure/car-hire-spain-fuel-policies-campaign-ocu/ Exploding appliances is one area that we’re working together.

@patrick, that’s really good news. I hope it develops well. Thanks for letting us know. Which? International was an inspired guess then 😀

It was, checking my desk for bugs now 😉

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Sounds like the glass has been allowed to cool too fast when moulded. . .That Duncan would be cost cutting
Does it break into shards or big crystals??. . Shards would suggest moulded untoughened glass whilst crystals would be toughened. . . .I dont think it’ll be toughened
Should it matter there has also been reports of “pyrex” (loose term) glass breaking or shattering at high temps since 2010. . . As to whether it is borosilicate or soda-lime glass I dont remember

Pyrex is Corning’s trade name for borosilicate glass, a low-expansion glass used where thermal shock (e.g. boiling water) is experienced, so it doesn’t break. Mechanically it will break like other glass, into shards. I believe this is commonly used for washing machine windows and will rely upon thickness for its strength.

It would be interesting to know what the EN standard for washing machines days about glass doors and what safety tests are specified. Perhaps Which? could consult the BSENstandard and tell us.

Borosilicate glass is more expensive than common glass (soda glass) and several years ago there were reports of bakeware breaking because manufacturers substituting soda glass. This page has a video that explains the problem: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/january/home-garden/glass-cookware/glass-cookware/index.htm It’s an example of a good product being substituted with an inferior one, compromising public safety.

I’m not sure if thermal stresses are sufficient to warrant use of borosilicate glass in washing machine doors. Like soda glass, borosilicate deteriorates through mechanical abrasion (by zip fasteners etc. in clothing), which can cause serious weakening.

As I have said before, veryone should have access to British Standards.

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Duncan – Try using Google Advanced Search to find what you are looking for: https://www.google.com/advanced_search

For most people it is useful for search engines to direct users towards popular content written in English, so it might not always be deliberate suppression of information.

If you want to look at content that has been changed or removed, a search of internet archives is very helpful. For example: http://archive.org/web/

Sorry for being off-topic but these resources could be helpful for pursuing some of the issues we discuss on Which? Convo.

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Duncan, if you are saying there is a problem finding info on toughened glass it is not one I have ever had. I used it in products and information is widely available. There are two types. The common one is thermally toughened – get it hot to virually deformation temperature, chill it rapidly on both surfaces with air, and the surfaces go into compression. This is what gives it resistance to impact and thermal shock (sudden exposure to hot water, say) but also it’s weakness. Slight damage (the inclusion you mention, or a minor scratch at an edge) can cause immediate shattering.

A more expensive and less widely used method is to immerse glass in a molten salt and ion exchange at the surface toughens the glass.

But I may have misunderstood your post. If so, I’m sorry 🙂

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LC Coggins says:
14 July 2017

This must not be true for US. My 8 month old dryer door shattered over the weekend during a cycle that had only sheets. The repair man visited, took photos, and tech support determined that “physical damage” was the cause of the breakage, therefore voiding the warranty repair. It’s completely bogus. That door should be able to withstand buttons, buckles and coins …none of which were in the machine. My first recommendation is to not buy a Samsung, and my second recommendation is to buy any dryer WITHOUT a picture window. No need to add any extra potential problems and it has no benefit.

Its good to see statistical reasons for investigations. Operational research was effectively started in WW2 and was very effective indeed when properly used.

As safety is paramount perhaps, rather than leaving it to marketing experts, that the EU mandates the amount of glass in the door – after all it could be a strip from top to bottom simple to see the water-level.

The trouble is without legislation you will end up like cars did with stylish 19″ and 20″ wheels but with compromised safety. Bigger door windows falls into the same category of being functionally useless but great at the point of sale.

25/04/16
Our Beko washing machine was in its final cycle and was spinning when the glass exploded and sent shards everywhere. Had this happened just a few seconds earlier our dogs would of took the full force of the blast and been seriously injured. To say we were shocked that this had happened is an understatement as I had always assumed that the glass should be toughened to prevent a blow out like this. After getting in touch with Beko they have arranged for an engineer to visit our home in 2 days time to inspect the fault………. watch this space.

Paul Flint says:
7 May 2016

Just as cars share common parts across makes and brands, manufactured by third party specialists, could this also be the case with respect to the glass viewing panels on washing machines? It might be that washing machine manufacturers share suppliers of glass viewing panels and that Beko is acquiring them from the least reliable source. Perhaps, in this instance, quality and safety checks, as they relate to glass viewing ports, need to be traced back through the various supply chains that feed into the manufacture of finished washing machines.

Jane Hunter says:
8 May 2016

This happened to our hotpoint machine on Tuesday, thankfully while I was out & the machine wasn’t in use! I’ve emailed a picture & the model details. Not impressed that they’re not sending an engineer to fix until the 16th but that’s a different story…….

My beko washing machine has just exploded today. What should I do now

I wonder if leaning on doors could be part of the problem. We’ve all seen doors on older cars, and cupboard doors, where the hinges have loosened because of people leaning on them.
I know my washing machine door gets leant on, could this put stress on the glass as, over time, the door becomes distorted?

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I remember that an early Vauxhall Victor had a flexible body that twisted when being jacked up to change a wheel. Caused toughened windscreen to break.

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Leaning on a washing machine door is more likely to damage the hinge than the glass. Glass breakage may not be common but if washing machines had metal rather than glass doors, the problem would be eliminated.

There are a couple of other safety issues. If a washing machine or tumble dryer goes on fire, the glass generally does not survive. If the door assembly is made of plastic rather than metal, that can be destroyed too. A steel case can contain an appliance fire because it will go out without oxygen. Glass and plastics destroy the integrity of the case, hence we have house fires and loss of life.

Sam maughan says:
19 August 2016

My beko washing machine door has exploded today, I’ve come home to glass everywhere , it must have happened during the spin as there is no water and the clothes have been spun with glass so many have been damaged. Should I contact beko, it is literally just a week outside of the 1 yr warranty 😟

My Beko washing machines door has just exploded today as well. Near the end of the spin cycle, I presume, as things are just damp and there’s no water. Now have lots of slashed clothes as they have been spun with broken glass. It is approx 18 months old. Luckily it can be repaired under the extended warranty but that isn’t compensation for the damage it has caused. Should Beko compensate for the damage?

Michael says:
7 October 2016

after 4 months my washing machine door shattered its a logik from Currys, while they will replace the door they will not check the machine completely for glass splinters that may have gone through the machinery, i think this could be dangerous and certainly i feel uneasy that they will only replace the glass. I will be trying to speak to a manager today but don’t believe i will be succsessful as you only talk to people with robotic answers. I will keep you updated on the progress.

I bought a Samsung front load on 13/04/2016. The glass door burst in the middle of the night. It had been used 2 days ago. Woke up in the morning to find the floor littered with shards of glass. I’ve only had it for 6 months!!! As I live on my own….it only ever gets used twice a week. It was plugged in as usual, but the switch on the wall was OFF and the door slightly open to let in fresh air. How and why it happened after 2 days of being used …I do not and cannot understand. Had I been in the washroom while it happened, I am sure some shards would have found a resting place on my body, and as it happened in the middle of the night I could have bled to death. I am a senior citizen, living on my own..73 years of age. Have since brought it to Samsung’s notice. I am posting this from Kolkata , India which is where I bought the product. While I wait for the Indian Franchises to get back to me, I am worried as to what I should do? Should I get the door repaired, ask for a replacement or simply buy a top load????

It is likely that the door glass was ‘toughened’ (or tempered) to make it less likely to break. This process is effective but places the glass under tension and it can fail catastrophically and without warning. The glass will have been weakened by abrasion by zips, buttons and any foreign objects such as coins left in pockets. Modern washing machines spin much faster than older models and this may be the reason why we see door glass failures. I used a washing machine for 34 years without glass breakage but the maximum spin speed was 800 rpm.

The risk is small but as you say it cause a serious accident. I don’t recalling seeing a top-loading washing machine in the UK but they are common in the US. You are lucky to have the choice.

I live in Houston Texas, I too have a samsung front load model. Have had it for only a few months and the exact same thing happened to me. 430am, front door glass breaks for no reason, while I was sleeping….machine was not running, door was open. Unbelievable.

mike, you could email the Underwriters Laboratory (USA) that considers the safety of, among other things, domestic appliances. They may have information on other reports of this. They are on the IEC that deals with standards, including international safety standards, and may be looking at the extend and possible ways of mitigating this problem. I have contacted BSI, who represent the UK’s interests to the iEC, and drawn their attention to the Which? Convos and the reports of shattering glass doors.

Duncan….you mentioned in your post of 20th april that samsung are advertising as using toughened/tempered glass. I dont think they are….mine shattered 3 days ago !!! Not sure where the parts are coming from…but my experience is in India !!! is quality of glass etc being compromised and putting our lives at risk? Will write on this page again once I hear from the franchises in India.

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Duncan, while u say(20th april) samsung are using special toughened glass….mine exploded 3 days ago!!!
I’m still waiting for a reply from the Indian sector of Samsung. Shameful really these big companies.

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Duncan, thanks for getting back. I am still waiting for samsung to show some responsibility. I’ve had a few phone calls. Some ignorant person even said ” …we will change the door for you…but you will have to pay…” Would you believe it…that it is still under guarantee and only 6 months old!!! I pointed out to the samsung personnel that changing the door was of no use as there were glass shards in the machine…through the drum.
I would also like like to say here that as suggested by wavechange that glass can get affected by zips, buttons sharp objects like coins etc..true!!….in my case none of these are applicable as i only ever wash stretch pants tops towels napkins sheets, indian wear etc etc… do not wear jeans and clothes requiring belts or pockets which could carry change.

The samsung people I speak to here have simply not come across this phenomenon and are on a denial mode. Have told them about this site. Very frustrating.

Hi Indira – Do keep us informed how you get on. Perhaps it is time that glass doors were phased out or made of laminated glass, like car windscreens. Machines with plastic shields have been made but this would only offer protection at one side of the door. Best of luck.

will keep you informed Duncan and Wavechange. Am struggling with this. Cannot find a site for samsung who you can write a mail to. only “chat ” is on offer…then they pass you on to call centres in far off places. I WILL GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS IF IT KILLS ME!!

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Michael….I sympathise with you. I have been offered a door replacement for the front load too. I did not accept it. Like you I fear glass splinters are lodged in my machine which have gone through the drum. I am fighting it. I WILL not give in. Let’s see. Wish you luck.

Duncan….thanks. Have been up to my neck fighting and arguing with these bureaucrats. They are it seems a law unto themselves. Motto…” never trust customers”.
I am angry beyond belief. I have just been informed I have misused it…broken it…it has not exploded. An engineer would like to repair it with me bearing the cost. I pointed out 1) it was still under guarantee for parts and labour. 2)Does not solve the problem of tiny glass fragments stuck to the washer and in the drum.
Answer: Not covered by guarantee as it is COSMETIC damage!! I asked what is cosmetic as opposed to non cosmetic damage…… answer… silence.
I am truly beaten by attitude taken. What a waste of money. Only 5 months old.
But not one for giving up easily,… will go into all the sites you gave and write to them about what is happening in India.
Then I shall leave it to God and Fate.
In the meantime folks….I need a machine…so thinking of Bosch. Front or top load???? Any ideas…suggestions??

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Perhaps Samsung’s personnel in India are incentivised to deflect all claims under warranties and other complaints eligible for free repair or replacement.

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In the UK, a customer would be expected to deal with the retailer rather than the manufacturer, unless there is a recall on grounds of safety. Manufacturers are often helpful but there is no legal requirement for them to provide help unless the customer bought the product directly from them. I don’t know what the legal situation is in India.