Is It Safe To Leave Washing Machine On When Not Home?

Is It Safe To Leave Washing Machine On When Not Home
Leaving a washing machine turned on when not home
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If leaving washing machines turned on when not home or leaving it overnight is dangerous, I’ll probably have been homeless a long time ago.

Before I tell you my personal experience about leaving washing machines turned on when not home, lemme first answer the title question.

In itself, it poses no threat to leave washing machines on when leaving home. However it is not safe to leave faulty washing machines running, whether someone is home or not. 

The idea is to have a balanced view of what the problem really is, which are:

  • Faulty appliances 
  • Poor wiring system
  • And poor user habits, such as overloading electric sockets.

rather than human absence.

Washing machines can run overnight, if they’re operated in separate laundry rooms, and will not affect night sleep. The reason is simple: 

  • Washing machines are programmed to stop functioning at the end of a circle.
  • Washing machines in good condition don’t overheat, hence irrespective of how long it is connected to electricity, it’s temperature is stable.
  • In the event of overheat, these appliances have turn-off technology, that forces a shut down when temperature goes beyond expected temperature.
  • Washers are high capacity electricity appliance. Although they can be subject to power surge, a spike that can damage your washing machine would have completely burnt almost all the electricity in your home.
  • If you are not bothered about safety when leaving your light bulb on when you’re not at home, then you have no reason to be bothered about leaving your washing machine turned on.
  • Talking from experience, I lived in a housing complex for years where ladies put their clothes in the washer before going to bed with the aim of drying them in the morning. I’m a major culprit in this drama. The only thing that had suffered is the light bills, which by the way, is a tiny fraction of the total power used in the complex, hence it isn’t viewed as an issue. More about this later.
  • The real culprits are faulty appliances rather than whether someone is home or not.

Now, believing I’ve answered your question upfront, it’s time for more context.

Why You Should Not Always Leave Your Washers On When Not Home – The Argument

Please note this: It is always better to turn off washing machines, in fact any home appliance, when leaving home. 

And the reasons are obvious, but let’s mention some of them.

  1. Obeying government instructions
  2. Energy conservation
  3. Threats of power surge
  4. Peace of mind.
  5. Safety

Obeying Government Instructions

Firstly, some governments recommends turning off all appliances when leaving home. This alone, is a good enough reason to always turn it off. 

Because of the possibility of electric appliances overheating and going on flames, the United States Consumers Product Safety Commission advices that all appliances be turned off when no one is at home.

In an interview by Scott Wolfson, of the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, he recommended turning off all appliances, when there’s no one to monitor them. This includes, according to him, charging a mobile phone over night.

Of course, they are not being paranoid. There have been instances when faulty appliances have caught fire because of some malfunctions. The principle behind being home when faulty device go haywire is that sometimes human intervention can prevent or reduce the damage done in the event of a disaster.

So while the problem is not caused by leaving washers running when leaving home. The mere fact that there is government advice suggesting otherwise is enough reason to oblige.

Energy Conservation

Being around to turn off a washer when your washing cycle ends can help to save electricity energy. Even when the drum is not rolling and there are no laundry in the washer, leaving a washing on and connected to electricity can consume standby electricity energy.


So, if you are not using your washing machine and you are not sure if it is safe to leave it on, it is best to turn it off.

According to the London Fire Brigade, there are nearly “nearly one fire a day in London involving white goods.”

White goods are large electrical household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, cookers, freezers, dryers, etc.

For instance on March 21, 2007, 250,000 Maytag front load washers and 20,000 Samsung washing machine units were recalled due to fire threats because of faults in the production of the said units.

But before you shout, ‘hail Mary’, hold on. The article quoted above, was not talking about how long you leave the appliances turned on. Nor is it talking about leaving it on when not at home. Instead it discoursed “lethal faulty appliances”.

So, the real culprit is not time, nor unavailability, but bad, faulty appliances. 

So is leaving the device on when not at home the problem? No.

The real issue is having faulty appliances. 

So rather than worrying about leaving home when your washer is on. Your real concern should be about keeping your washer healthy.

Also many white appliances have safe technologies that forces a shutdown in the event of overheating. So in the rare event of a washing machine overheating, it is more likely to shut down than to go into flames.


Home Fires Involving Clothes Dryers and Washing Machines, by Year (Structure Fires Reported to U.S. Fire Departments)


Can You Leave The House With The Washer Running

Yes you can. Washing machines are programmed to stop at the end of the wash cycle. While it is true that there are risks from faulty machines, the problem is not that they were left running while no one was home.

Your presence at home does not increase or reduce the probability of fire outbreak or something worse. Although being around when a problem breaks out can help to reduce the damage it might cause, having a balanced view of things is the best way out.

Since in all cases of fire outbreak or some other washer related problems, the cause is always faulty washer or faulty home wiring or other damage related fault. 

  • It is important to always strive to keep home appliances safe and in good condition.
  • Avoid running a faulty washer, whether someone is at home or not.
  • Do not overload electrical sockets/outlets.
  • Protect house wiring with good circuit breakers and other related protection mechanism.

With a good protection system, you will have little concern with leaving your home when your washer is running.

You can not turn off your washer mid cycle simply because you need to get an item across the road. Neither will you remove your clothes too early so you can do some cooking in the kitchen.

Every house appliance should be turned off when leaving home. But occasionally leaving your washing off to take care of some other important business will, more often than not, hurt your electricity bill, than present a safety hazard.

In a well built and maintained home and appliance setting this should not be an issue. But if you’re unsure of the condition of your appliance or the state of your house, you’re better safe than sorry. Simply turn them off.

So while it is good to be safety cautious, it is more important to handle the cause of safety hazards: 

  • Faulty appliances and 
  • Poor wiring system
  • And poor habits like overloading sockets.

If you take care of the more important things, you’ll be able to leave home with your washing machine running to get some stuff across the road or to pass that important info to your neighbor, without worry of some safety hazards.

Is It Safe To Leave Washing Machine On Pause?

Is It Safe To Leave Washing Machine On When Not Home
Pausing a washing machine

The pause setting in a washing machine is there for one reason: to pause the appliance when  there is a need for it. 

So you shouldn’t be punished for obeying the manufacturer’s instructions. In reality, it is completely safe to pause your washing machine. Except each machine has a maximum pause duration, after this some default settings is triggered.

In some LGs for example, you can only pause your washer for 5 minutes. Others are able to be paused for 8 minutes. If you own a Samsung washing machine, you probably will be able to pause it for 1 hour at a stretch.

But it is important to know that the paus setting is meant for a temporary stop in operation. If you need to stop a washer for some very long time, you’re better off turning it off completely after finishing the running process. Or you can simply remove your clothes, from the washer and use other means to clean the clothes.

If you must leave your clothes wet in a stopped washer, know that in 8 – 12 hours time, your clothes will have begin to smell. So you’re better off deciding the next step to take way before the 8 hour mark.


Is It Safe To Leave Washing Machine On When Not Home

There might be times when you’ll need to leave home with your washer running. If is it feasible, you should turn off your washing.

However if you choose to leave it running, be sure your washing does not have any health issues. Always strive for good electrical installations with a good circuit breaker and some other circuit protections.

Do not make it a habit to run a washer when you’re not home. But know that a good, healthy washing machine in a well wired structured, will run comfortably to the end of any washing cycle without any safety hazard even when you’re not home.

If where you live there are rules guiding leaving appliances on when no one is at home, you are better off obeying such rules. You do not want to be found disobeying the government.

Healthy washing machines are among the most reliable appliances you can have in your home, so they provide some peace of mind in operations and safety. But by all means never have a carefree attitude towards any appliance. And always turn them off when leaving home.

So, back to the question: is it safe to leave washing machines on when not home? 

The answer is: you’re better safe than sorry.


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