Exploding washing machines?

The rise of the machines has begun. Apparently, dozens of washing machines from numerous brands are "exploding" and UK consumer product watchdog magazine Which? is investigating. The typical story involves the glass door of the washing machines violently shattering, possibly caused by the drum splitting apart while the machine is on high spin. From The Telegraph:

Adrian Porter, Home Product Researcher at the watchdog said the problem first appeared 18 months ago but the number of cases had risen sharply in recent months.

The forum Whitegoodshelp has been collecting stories from those who say they have been affected…

Mr Porter said: "This hasn't happened to any washing machines during our lab tests, so we have been unable to observe it in laboratory conditions and follow up with a proper analysis. "But going through the accounts, there are theories ranging from hair cracks in the glass, or even that the glass is just thinner than it used to be. Still, nothing has been confirmed."

"Consumer watchdog investigates exploding washing machines"


Dining room table spontaneously "exploded"


  1. This happened about a year ago at a laundromat I own. The front-load washers have unibody construction, so a failure anywhere causes it to lose its structural integrity. In my case, a small leak had weakened a portion of the back of the drum. During the spin mode, the vibration became too much for the machine to bear and the “square” frame started to distort. This placed pressure on the door glass, causing it to pop out. The machine shook violently until the breaker tripped and it stopped. While it was very loud, there was no explosion and little chance of injury. I don’t have experience with the washers mentioned in the story, but I suspect the problem is similar to my experience.

    1. I wonder if maybe we live in a disposable society which supports the baffling concept of planned obsolescence and not-actually-durable goods? That we no longer build things to last and actually remain useful because the people producing these products want to be able to sell more of them, and having a single home appliance last a person’s entire lifetime prevents them from buying replacements and furthering the Capitalistically-ideal (if ultimately impossible and unfeasible) prospect of rampant consumerism and magical eternalally expanding profits from finite (and wasted) resources?

  2. What about the possibility that more people are forgetting their smartphones in their pockets?

  3. The lab is probably not testing washers that have been used on a regular basis for months or years.  The “different brands” part is almost meaningless as more and more, the name plate is simply slapped on at a nameless factory that makes the appliances under contract for whoever is paying and often the components are identical.

    This plus “designing for the minimum” or whatever fancy name is used to describe the philosophy of making products that jiust barely function short of failure where figuring out what is an acceptable failure rate before customers get totally po’ed vs. designing for quality and longevity.

    1. I once read the summary for a supposedly long term study of dishwashers, which declared that it mimicked actual use by being run the equivalent of 5 times a week for X number of years.

      Our family isn’t even “large” and I’d consider it an easy week if we only ran the dishwasher 9 or 10 times.

      A washing machine for a family is often run every day, at least one or two loads.  Wear and tear happens much quicker than the tests presume.

      1. I guess it depends on the size of the machine and family.  Growing up in a house hold of three people my mom did laundry on Saturday which typically consisted of three loads.  But at the same time she also had the largest possible washer she could buy (at least in the retail space.)

        1. Size of machine, definitely, but also types of loads.  If you throw everything in together without sorting, or if you truly only need a couple of different washload variations, you probably can get away with fewer, bigger loads.

          For example, we use the following different cycles on a weekly basis:

          – whites (heavy duty, hot water)
          – lights (normal warm wash, cold rinse)
          – lights (normal cold wash, cold rinse)
          – darks  (normal warm wash, cold rinse)
          – darks (normal cold wash, cold rinse)
          – towels (normal cold wash, cold rinse)
          – linens (heavy duty cold wash, cold rinse)
          – delicates (delicate cold wash, cold rinse)

          Oh, and having teen girls doubles the pile of laundry….sports uniforms PLUS dainty unmentionables.

      2. My family of 4 uses a dishwasher about 4-5 times a week. Probably 3-4 times a week for the washing machine. My brother-in-law told me his family of 6 use their washing machine once a day.

        We are admittedly all dirty Brits.

        1. Smaller machines there, so you are VERY dirty Brits. ;-)

          I washed less when I lived in Britain too.  And when I lived in Belgium, I was actually teased at work when it came out that I took a bath every other day.  Were all Americans as dirty as me, that we had to wash 3 times a week?

          Cultural norms are fascinating.

  4. I still use a top loader.  Yeah it wastes water and electricity/gas, but at least I don’t have to replace it because of something stupid or the fact it smells bad.

    If a company came out with a “commercial” line of washer/dryer (hell any appliance) and stamped a 15 year warranty on them I’d probably pay the astronomical price they wanted for it.  (Especially if they guaranteed part availability for 30 years.)

  5. Exploding consumer washing mashies, dryers, home toasters and stoves is the result of a computer virus secretly uploaded during manufacturing of these devices by Iranian software engineers in retaliation for having their underground and secret separation centerfuges infected by viruses clandestinely downloaded by unknown persons suspected to be western spies. The best protection against having your washing machine explode is to get an older model that works by mechanical timers and cogs.

  6. I’m pretty sure there was a “Danger Mouse” cartoon with this plot, way back in the day.
    We should be fine, at least until small rodents start flying them around.

  7. Oh dear! The glass door of German washing machines used to be quite sturdy–a friend used one as an oven baking dish for years with no visible changes.

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