According to research from electrical supplier ElectricalDirect, based on government figures, there were 15,000 domestic fires related to appliances in England between April 2019 and March 2020.

Most fires related to appliances aren't caused by faults in the appliances themselves. Instead, it's the mistakes people make when using them. 

The most common way for a fire to start was by a household object being placed too close to a source of heat. It's all too easy to do. Who hasn't chucked a tea towel onto a countertop next to a lit hob, or left a chopping board or oven glove too close?

The second most likely cause was misuse of appliances. That includes covering vents, overloading appliances or plugs or leaving appliances unattended. 

With that in mind, these are the appliances most likely to be involved in an accidental fire.

Appliances most likely to cause an accidental fire

 

Type of appliance

Number of fires 2019-20

1

Cooker, including oven

8,001

2

Standalone hob or hot plate 

1,581

3

Grill or toaster

1,368

4

Microwave oven

922

5

Tumble dryer

668

6

Washing machine

624

7

Fridge/freezer

215

8

Dishwasher

194

9

Deep fat fryer

186

10

Extractor fan

182

Most fires were caused by human error or neglect. Only 15% of appliance fires were started by faulty appliances. 

Faulty appliances most likely to start a fire

 

Type of appliance

Number of fires 2019-20

1

Washing machine

520

2

Tumble dryer

459

3

Cooker including oven

201

4

Fridge/freezer

181

5

Dishwasher

171

6

Extractor fan

118

7

Grill or toaster

116

8

Other domestic appliances

96

9

Microwave oven

74

10

Washer/dryer

54

If you’re wondering why washing machines took the number one spot, it's because they contain a number of parts which, if they fail, won't stop the appliance altogether but will cause it to overheat while running. 

In addition, poorly made printed circuit boards inside a washing machine can cause electrical failure and spark a fire.

Which brands made the most faulty appliances?

Bear in mind that these figures, like all the figures mentioned in this article, are for one year only, in England. They don't necessarily represent the overall safety of the products from the brands mentioned. 

While it's likely that the type of appliances that cause fires will be the same from year to year, the brands may change.

It's also the case that brands that sell more products in England may be more likely to feature on this list. A brand that isn't mentioned below is not necessarily safer.

 

Brand

Number of fires 2019-20

1

Hotpoint

311

2

Indesit

183

3

Beko

150

4

Bosch

100

5

Hoover

93

6

Candy

59

7

Zanussi

47

8

White Knight

39

9

Whirlpool

33

10

Bush

32

For Hotpoint and Indesit, it was their washing machines and tumble dryers that were most likely to be faulty. The same was true for Beko, although dishwashers and fridge freezers were also involved.  

How you can protect your home

1. Buy and fit a smoke alarm. If you have a smoke alarm already, check it regularly to make sure it's in good working order.

2. Register your appliances. When you buy a new appliance, make sure to register it with the manufacturer. If an appliance is found to be faulty, they will contact you to let you know to stop using it. In most cases, they'll replace the faulty appliance.

Go to RegisterMyAppliance to do this now. Most manufacturers will let you register older appliances as well.

If your appliances are too old, or if you've bought them secondhand, check the government's product recall page to make sure they're safe to use.

3. Don't leave appliances on when you go out, especially tumble dryers. If possible, unplug small electrical items that aren't in use.

4. Make sure you don't overburden your outlets. If you use power strips, don't use them with large appliances. Make sure that large appliances have a plug point to themselves.

5. Check your wires and cables regularly. Don't stretch them or run them under rugs. Keep them away from heat sources. If they are frayed or damaged, don't switch on your appliance.

6. Clean your appliances. This includes checking the filter in your tumble dryer and wiping up spills and cleaning away built-on grease on extractor fans and in ovens. Empty your toaster regularly as well.

6. Don't try to repair appliances yourself. 

7. Make sure that appliances and chargers have a European or British safety mark.

8. Look out for signs of faulty electrical wiring, like flickering lights and hot plugs.

9. If you're replacing a fuse, only use the correct one for the appliance.

10. Get into a habit of keeping items away from your hob and toaster. Don't leave a bread board on your hob or drop your tea towel on the counter next to it. Keep the area around these appliances clear.

For more advice on taking care of your home appliances, check out our articles on appliance mistakes you're probably making and cleaning hacks for home appliances.