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KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-newssince 2002
28th January 2021


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Once again, kitchen appliances are in the mainstream press and sadly, again it’s not good news. This time it’s exploding washing machines making the headlines but on closer inspection, I can see that the culprits are in the US – and that they’re top-loaders.

Does anyone in the UK use top-loaders these days? I ask, because I’ve not come across (that I’ve been aware of) any top-loading appliances for many years – both in the stores and in people’s houses. Is this because our typical houses have smallish kitchens that require us to make the most of every available surface in terms of creating worktop space, or is it simply fashion?

I know we’re considered odd in the UK for fuelling the manufacture of double ovens – although I do wonder now whether many of us buy them because of their abundance, rather than because a double oven is on our list of ‘must haves’. i.e., do we really think about what we’re buying or is it, perhaps, now a case of the tail wagging the dog?

Something else that these exploding appliance stories made me consider, is whether the appliances are failing because of what we’re doing to them, rather than because they’re inherently dangerous. Or should they be built to withstand any type of abuse they may encounter when in our homes?

I can recall interviewing the manufacturer of the famous ‘Henry’ vacuum cleaner some years back and was surprised to learn that in tests they’re dropped from great heights to see if they can withstand the impact. When I asked why, I was told that aeroplane cleaners had so little turnaround time between flights that they’d vacuum from front to back and then chuck poor Henry out of the rear doors once finished. I’m hoping that this would be onto a soft surface, but of course I can’t be sure…

Where do manufacturers draw the line when it comes to personal safety? Are KBB products manufactured to withstand ridiculous amounts of abuse and where do you draw line? Is it down to costs or is there a point that’s reached, whereby you say, “No-one could be that stupid…” and leave it at that?



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Jan Hobbs



30th September 2016

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