I’ve been writing about, and following this issue since 2008. I’ve personally had a lot of cases reported to me and I can see there are other examples on the Internet. Here is a summary of the issue – there seems to be a steady trickle of reports from people whose washing machine door glass has “exploded”. Reports cover multiple brands. A percentage of them have reportedly shattered spontaneously when the washing machine was not even switched on. However, it’s impossible to know if it is a genuine danger or not, or how likely it is that someone could be injured if in front of the door at the time.
It’s fair to say that the customers who report these incidents do claim that it is dangerous. I have seen reports of people being cut and injured but nothing serious so far, and as far as I can make out it was more to do with being cut picking up the glass. There was a brief flurry of international media interest in my article in 2012 and it was widely quoted and linked to but 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 also had national press coverage last year 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 the word is used by most people experiencing this problem it needs to be used. Some have even described it as being like “a bomb”. This picture is of a Beko washing machine, who so far have the highest reported cases – though they are one of the most common UK washing machines. 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!” and of course the concerns over children have been mentioned by several others.
Reports of spontaneous exploding glass when washer not even running
My concerns have been sparked again by seeing this picture on my Facebook newsfeed 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. When you know about all of the incidents that have happened (rare or not) this photo is worrying, and clearly it’s best to not let children get this close up just in case.
It seems that manufacturers are saying the problem is caused by foreign obstructions such as coins or metal buckles hitting and weakening the door glass, which 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 from cheap, middle, to top end, so it’s not necessarily only the cheapest brands. See the tally of reports on the right column (or 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, but there’s currently no proof of that. One improvement that would help is if manufacturers placed a plastic cover in front of the door glass making it double-glazed. It would probably need to be designed like this from the off though as it’s likely to be difficult to fit one as a modification. This was done around 20 years back by Hoover on models like the Eco Logic, Soft wave and New wave although it was done for thermal protection and insulation. To my knowledge, this was not an issue back then and I never came across any shattered door glass until around 2008. If a see-through plastic cover is fitted inside the door at the front it should protect anyone from exploding glass – although clearly it would be better if the glass didn’t shatter at all.
What can you do to limit any danger?
Although this still appears to be rare, enough reports have come through of the glass shattering whilst the washer isn’t even on to be taken seriously so it may be best not to 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.
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 in case it helps prevent or limit any glass flying out, and keeping children away from it especially when it’s running.
Most of all, take care of your washing machine and treat it gently. Many of them aren’t built as well as they used to be 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 (but don’t underload either – Loading a washing machine) Also make sure you check all pockets for coins and other obstructions before washing and don’t put laundry in with metal buckles or even 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 may be more to do with thermal insulation again than protecting against shattering door glass. As AEG have only had 1 reported incident on Whitegoodshelp it seems unlikely they would have introduced the “shield” for safety and more 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.
Note: 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?