Last updated on June 23rd, 2017
I’ve been writing about and following cases of “exploding” door glass on washing machines since 2008. There’s been a steady trickle of reports from people with various brands. Some even claim their door glass shattered spontaneously when the washing machine was not even switched on. It’s not easy to judge how much of a genuine danger this. It’s potentially a genuine safety concern.
Customers who report these incidents are definitely claiming it is dangerous. I have seen reports of people being cut and injured, but nothing serious so far. As far as I can make out it’s been more to do with being cut picking up the glass. Back in 2012 there was a brief flurry of international media interest in my article. It was widely quoted and linked to. However, presumably without any reports of serious injury it was soon forgotten.
Don’t confuse two separate “exploding” washing machine issues
This article is about the door glass exploding. Another issue, which has also had national press coverage is when the washing machine itself explodes from the drum out which is much more violent. This is a known issue related to specific brands and is covered in my article here – washing machines exploding: What’s going on?
Shattering door glass
I’m not entirely happy using the word explode because it sounds sensational. But as most people experiencing this issue use that word it needs to be used. Some have even described it as being like “a bomb”. This picture is of a Beko washing machine> Beko are one of the most common UK washing machines who so far have the highest reported cases. The consumer who sent it me wrote, “I dread to think the outcome if my son had been in front of the machine at the time!”. Concerns over children (and pets) have often been mentioned.
Reports of spontaneous exploding glass when washer not even running
Seeing this picture on my Facebook news-feed heightened my concerns. It’s of a friend’s small child innocently looking into their washing machine. No parent could be expected to foresee the thick door glass of their washing machine shattering, either when on – or especially when it’s just standing unused. This photo is worrying when you know about all of the incidents that have happened (rare or not). Clearly it’s best to not let children get this close up just in case.
Manufacturers are saying the problem is caused by foreign obstructions such as coins or metal buckles hitting and weakening the door glass. The weakened door can then shatter under constant heating up and cooling down. Another theory is that it’s caused by people overloading the washing machine. However, it would be nice if the door glass was strong enough to cope with such inevitable stresses. I have written an article specifically covering that subject here – exploding door glass – who’s fault is it?
Which washing machines are affected?
Many brands have been mentioned across the price range. Cheap, middle, and even some top-end brands have been affected. So it’s not necessarily only the cheapest brands. See the tally of reports on the right column (after the comments on mobile devices).
What’s the solution?
Until a definite cause is proved it’s difficult to know what needs to be done. The main expectation is that the door glass maybe needs to be made thicker. There’s no proof that the glass is too thin as yet. If manufacturers placed a plastic cover in front of the door glass it would definitely prevent any injuries. This would make it double-glazed. It’s likely to be difficult to fit one retrospectively. So it would probably need to be designed like this from the off. This was actually done around 20 years back by Hoover on models like the Eco Logic, Soft Wave and New Wave. However it was done for thermal protection and insulation. To my knowledge, and in my experience, the shattering door glass was not an issue back then. I didn’t come across any shattered door glass until around 2008.
What can you do to limit any danger?
Enough reports of the glass shattering whilst the washer isn’t even on have been made to be taken seriously although this still appears to be rare. Don’t let kids play around washing machines until this issue is hopefully resolved. Some door glass appears to break into relatively safe rounded chunks, but some (see photos) have broken into more sharp and jagged pieces, which definitely look dangerous.
Remember, there are only (presumably) a few hundred cases out of millions of washing machines and only a small percentage of them claim the washer wasn’t running at the time. So the odds of it happening at all – never mind someone being in front of it at the time – should be very low. If you are concerned enough to need to do something you could try hanging a thick towel over the door when the washer is not in use. That would prevent or limit any glass flying out. Keep children and pets away from it especially when it’s running.
Take care of your washing machine and treat it gently
Many of them aren’t built as well as they used to and can’t take much “abuse”. Don’t overload the machine by cramming it so full that the whole laundry just turns around in one big lump. Don’t under-load it either – Loading a washing machine). Also make sure you check all pockets for coins and other obstructions before washing. Don’t put laundry in with metal buckles or buttons which could hit the door glass.
Some new washing machines do have a plastic barrier in front of the glass
I’ve seen two new AEG washing machines that both have a protective plastic see-through plate in front of the door glass (which is the solution I’ve always described). However, they were both washer dryers. So it’s more to do with thermal insulation again than protecting against shattering door glass. As AEG have only had 1 reported incident on Whitegoodshelp (so far) it seems unlikely they would have introduced this “shield” for safety. It’s likely to just be coincidental.
(More views on this subject from another engineer : Ken Watt runs UKWhitegoods and is an experienced appliance engineer. He has written an article giving his views here – Washing Machine Door Glass Failures)
Photos of broken door glass
If your washing machine door glass has shattered or exploded please send (in focus) photos so I can consider putting them on this article as examples. Contact me and you can then attach the photos to my email reply.
The best photos are currently on the right column – but if you are viewing this on a mobile device the photos will be shown right at the bottom after all the comments. There are plenty of comments to read and research if you scroll down. If you have any information or would just like to register an incident with me please add a comment or contact me
- Exploding door glass – who’s fault is it?
- For an article on actual washing machines exploding (not just the door glass) go here – Washing machines exploding: What’s going on?