Laundry fire safety issues

a person putting some clothes into a washing machine

Cleveland Fire Brigade is experiencing an increase in the number of fires involving the spontaneous combustion of materials after being laundered.

Cleveland Fire Brigade is asking launderettes, householders, and businesses with large volumes of washing such as hospitality and hairdressers to take care with laundry.

The call follows several fires over the last few months caused by what is known as ‘spontaneous combustion’, items catching fire without any obvious reason.

The latest incident in Middlesbrough has left the business closed with significant damage and the resident that lived above needing to be re-housed.

Joe Flounders, Head of Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “Fires resulting from laundered clothing bursting into flames are thankfully not common, however they are increasing.

Whether it concerns commercial laundries that dry tea towels for restaurants, restaurants doing their own laundry or home launderers, a number of fires have occurred when the dried laundry is left in piles, trucks or bags ready for re-use.

This is caused because hot items coming out of the dryer which have not been allowed to cool down fully before folding or packing are left close together and the heat builds up and ignites.”

There are a few quick and easy safety tips you can follow:

  • Never store warm laundry in drawers, cupboards until they are fully cool.
  • Don’t leave warm laundry unattended in piles or stacks and especially not in plastic containers.
  • Ensure the dryer is well maintained and the exhausted air is not restricted
  • Ensure there is no build-up of lint in filters and ducting, clean them regularly.
  • Always allow the dryer to go through its “cool down” cycle fully before unloading the machine.
  • Allow the laundry to air and cool properly before storage.