MORE than 500,000 households have been urged to immediately unplug their Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines due to a fire risk.
Parent company Whirlpool said as many as 519,000 appliances sold under the brand names between October 2014 and February 2018 could be affected.
A flaw with the door-locking system could lead to them overheating and potentially catching fire.
A recall will begin in January and Whirlpool yesterday urged customers to contact the company to check if their machine is affected.
However, its website and helpline were promptly overwhelmed.
The firm said those who choose to continue using their appliances should only select cold water cycles of 20C or lower because it ‘significantly reduces the risk’. Its vice president Jeff Noel apologised ‘for the inconvenience this may cause our customers, particularly over the Christmas period, but we hope people will understand’.
In July, Whirlpool announced a recall of 500,000 tumble dryers over a link to 54 fires.
And Grenfell Tower inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said he had ‘no doubt’ that the blaze, which claimed 72 lives, was started by an electrical fault in a Hotpoint fridge-freezer — which the company denied.
Sue Davies, of consumer group Which?, said: ‘This safety alert will cause huge disruption for millions of people over Christmas and, following the tumble dryer scandal, leaves Whirlpool’s reputation in tatters.