Can a Washing Machine Catch Fire? (How to Deal With it and Prevent it)

How concerned should you be about your washing machine catching fire? If you’re like most people, the answer is that you don’t think about it at all, or not until something unfortunate happens in your home.

But it’s important to know the answer to it as it can affect your safety and your family.

Yes, there is a risk of a washing machine catching fire, but the odds are not as high because manufacturers build the machines with fire prevention in mind. But accidents do happen.

Most people only think about the most basic functionality of their appliances and wouldn’t consider them something that could potentially cause fires in the home or at work.

But while it’s rare, there are cases where this has happened due to various factors.

Unfortunately, if you own an older model washing machine that hasn’t been serviced in years, this risk may be higher than you think.

Older washers are more likely to have rusted inside their motors, and these rusting parts can come in contact with the electrical current and start a fire.

Not only can this be damaging to your laundry room, but it can cause smoke damage to the rest of your home as well.

The good news after all these are said is that there are steps you can take to prevent this from happening and to help put out the fire if it does start, and we’ll cover all of these things in this article.

What Can Cause a Washing Machine to Catch Fire?

Have you ever wondered what can cause a washing machine to catch fire? It’s less common than you might think, but it’s an important risk to be aware of and, if necessary, prevent.

The washing machine is one of the most reliable and affordable pieces of technology, with billions in use worldwide.

While washing machines are safe and convenient, they can be prone to a few unique problems you should be aware of so you can avoid them as much as possible.

Electrical short-circuit

An ignition commonly occurs when an electrical short-circuit is created in one of your washing machines.

The short circuit causes extreme heat, which leads to fire. This type of fire is often fast-moving and difficult to control once it has started.

If you smell something burning or see smoke coming from an appliance, turn off the power at the circuit breaker and contact a professional immediately.

Another potential source of fire in a washing machine is called thermal runaway. Thermal runaway happens when heating elements get too hot and start melting components inside of them, spreading fire throughout an appliance and causing it to burn even hotter than before.

The temperature spikes are usually caused by a failure of safety mechanisms or other parts that should be preventing high temperatures from forming.

Again, if you smell something burning or see smoke coming from an appliance, turn off the power at the circuit breaker and contact a professional immediately.

Poor construction or faulty equipment

Many home laundry fires occur because of problems with washing machines, which may be due to poor construction or faulty equipment that is not up-to-date with safety codes.

Faulty wiring and overloaded circuits are also common causes. Always ensure your washing machine is inspected by a professional for any potential hazards.

If you repair an identified fault that still doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to, consider replacing it.

Also, ensure that your washing machine has a heat sensor in case of overheating. Make sure to replace all damaged or frayed wires immediately.

Never use extension cords on your washing machine; they tend to pose too much risk of overheating and causing fires.

Older washing machines

And if you have an older washing machine, they could also pose a risk: manufacturers often improve on design flaws by adding more advanced features as technology advances.

Newer models of both washers and dryers have been designed to shut off automatically if there is a problem with their internal mechanisms.

Older models do not include these protections, and if something goes wrong during operation, they could catch fire much more easily than newer models.

Additionally, in cases where older machines have been repaired or serviced improperly after years of use, serious damage could occur when water leaks into electrical components that are supposed to be completely waterproof. And that can quickly cause a fire in your washing machine.

Improper maintenance

Some fires are caused by improper maintenance of your washing machine. If you notice signs of wear and tear (such as loose wires), don’t delay, have them repaired immediately.

Washing machines that aren’t properly maintained may also be more likely to suffer from electrical issues that could lead to a fire.

Regular appliance repair company maintenance is the best way to avoid these problems.

This will ensure that all components work correctly, including the thermostat and heating element.

Internal leaks

A severe case of internal leaks from rusted-out components or cracked pipes and hoses spraying water onto electrical parts can potentially ignite flammable chemicals such as bleach, laundry detergent, and softener sheets.

If these substances combine with electrical sparks, they could ignite and cause a fire. It’s also possible that a semi-short circuit within your washing machine may occur if you have an older model that still uses an aluminum wiring system.

This type of wiring has been known to melt when exposed to excess heat, which could spark a fire in your washer.

Blocked drain pump

A faulty drain pump may be responsible for starting some fires. It’s always important to keep your drain lines unblocked, not just for safety reasons but also so your washing machine functions properly.

In rare cases, overheating from poorly-located or damaged plumbing could also start a fire in your home. So, it’s worth checking before giving up on your appliance.

If you suspect your washing machine is at fault, contact an experienced repairman immediately.

These are delicate machines and should only be handled by professionals who know what they’re doing.

Printed circuit boards blowing.

Printed circuit boards control washing machines and other appliances. If these start to overheat, they are susceptible to combustion.

You must have your washing machine serviced by professionals every six months.

Blowing high-voltage shocks should be avoided because they may seriously impact printed circuit boards, especially those found in washing machines.

The washing machine will start to go up in flames as soon as the circuit boards fail.

How to Deal with Washing Machine Fires

Do not open your washing machine door. Do not reach inside your washing machine.

These are all unsafe practices that may expose you to a fire hazard that can quickly spread if you’re not careful.

If you see smoke or sparks and suspects that your washing machine has caught fire, follow these instructions and precautions.

1) Shut off power to your washing machine;

2) Call 911;

3) Keep everyone away from the area, including pets;

4) Use towels or other non-flammable materials to smother flames;

5) Use foam extinguishers or CO2 (carbon dioxide) fire extinguishers. Never use water to extinguish a fire. Water feeds fires rather than putting them out, so never use water when trying to put out a fire. Be aware that carbon dioxide may harm your lungs if inhaled in large quantities;

6) Evacuate your home for a safer place.

Note: You may want to keep a fire extinguisher near your laundry room door just in case of emergencies like these.

Can my Washing Machine Catch Fire if Unplugged or Switched Off?

When your washing machine is not in use, it can be tempting to simply unplug it and leave it until the next time, but this could still be dangerous, particularly if you have gas heating or lighting.

Yes, the washing machine can catch fire whiles unplugged or switched off. But it’s not as common a problem as you might think.

And in most cases, there are ways to prevent such a fire before it occurs. It’s an inconvenient truth that washing machines can catch fire. Still, it’s important to acknowledge, especially if you’re living in an area with dry or warm weather like California.

Fire safety experts advise that it’s best to keep your washing machine unplugged or switched off until you use it. They also recommend that you ensure your laundry room is always well-ventilated to prevent fires from starting inside the machine.

And as to why the washing machine can still catch fire whiles unplugged or switched off, numerous factors can result in that.

Many modern machines are equipped with computerized circuitry that may be vulnerable to electrical surges caused by lightning strikes during storms.

These surges can potentially damage sensitive components like circuit boards, rendering them useless.

This is why experts recommend switching off your appliance rather than simply unplugging it when you plan to leave your home for an extended time because you never know when a storm might hit.

So for the safety of yourself, your home, and your washing machine, always switch it off first before you go ahead and unplug it.

Some Signs That Your Washing Machine Might Catch Fire

Frightening as it may sound, there is a chance that your washing machine could catch fire.

If you’re worried about your safety and property damage, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Strange smells coming from your washing machine;
  • A strange clicking noise coming from inside your washing machine when switched on;
  • Sudden flashes of bright light inside or outside of your washing machine when turned on;
  • The sound of breaking glass whenever you use your appliance.

It is advisable to switch off your washing machine immediately and call a professional repair person if you see any of these warning signs.

How to Prevent Your Washing Machine from Catching Fire

Did you know that thousands of fires each year are related to clothes dryers and washing machines?

Many of these occur because consumers don’t have their machines properly maintained.

We will look at how you can proactively prevent your washing machine from catching fire.

Schedule regular inspection

To prevent fires, make sure you schedule regular inspections for your appliances.

A certified technician can check to see if your electrical connections are intact and whether all moving parts work as they should.

Repair or replace faulty washing machines

If your appliance is not working correctly, it is important to have it repaired or replaced immediately.

If you notice any damage or fraying in wires or unusual smells coming from your washer or dryer, shut off power immediately and contact a professional repairman immediately.

Be cautious of abnormal smells or smoke.

Be aware of warning signs like smoke or burning odors while operating your washing machine.

If you notice anything out of place, stop using your appliance immediately and contact a professional for repairs.

And to help and easily detect smoke, install a smoke alarm in your laundry space.

Owner’s manual

To safely operate your washing machine, follow the recommendations from your owner’s manual.


The chance of a washing machine catching fire is very low, but it does happen. Yes, it may sound improbable, but it happens.

While most washing machines are perfectly safe, they do have the potential to cause fires when they break down (don’t function correctly) or something triggers.

Don’t worry about your washing machine right now; however, if you notice any signs of trouble (like smoke), turn off your washer and contact an appliance repair company immediately.

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