More than half a million households using Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines have been urged to immediately unplug the appliances as Whirlpool Corporation prepares to recall them.
It is over a fire risk caused by a problem with the door-locking system that could lead to the machines overheating and potentially setting alight.
As many as 519,000 sold under the Hotpoint and Indesit brands in the UK between October 2014 and February 2018 could be affected.
Whirlpool has urged owners of appliances bought since 2014 to get in contact immediately to check if the recall applies to their machine.
The company’s vice president Jeff Noel apologised for the “inconvenience and concern” over the Christmas period but said user safety was “top priority”.
“Preparing for a recall of this scale is a complex operation and we are working tirelessly to ensure we are ready to start offering replacements or repairs to our customers from early January,” he added.
However, the firm's website and helpline were promptly overwhelmed by the volume of customers seeking information.
Consumer journalist Alice Beer called for better “official protection” for consumers of faulty products.
“It is a major, major problem that we do not have an effective recall system," she told talkRADIO's Eamonn Holmes, adding: "We do not have that link between government and consumer that protects us.”
Whirlpool has advised customers to unplug their machines and stop using them.
It warned that those who choose to continue to use the appliances should only use cold water cycles of 20C or lower as this significantly reduces the risk.
talkRADIO: Listen live