Woman says her Swiffer WetJet caught fire, problem appears isolated

Story appears to be an isolated incident

(WXYZ) - Millions of Americans have the battery-powered Swiffer WetJet in their homes, which sprays a cleaning fluid on your floors as you mop them.

We were hard-pressed to find any serious complaints about the popular cleaning device, which has been sold for more than 15 years. But one family's experience, which appears to be an isolated incident, could be a bit concerning.

Scorch marks show damage

Rikki Houghton says her mom's laundry room still has scorch marks on the floor from a fire that appears to have originated in her Swiffer WetJet floor cleaner.

It was leaning against the washing machine when Houghton says it spontaneously caught fire. The Swiffer had not been used in several days.

Houghton says by the time she raced over from her home down the street, she saw so much smoke she thought the dryer was burning.

"It was so much smoke that I didn't know if it was her dryer or appliance or whatever. I didn't realize until we got in there," she said.
    
All that remains of her mother's WetJet is a melted, blackened hulk, at the end of an aluminum handle.

Caught it just in time

Hougton's mom Carol Herbstreit says she had just returned from the store and was working in her kitchen, when she started seeing flickering lights on her cabinets and ceiling and walls. She wondered: What's that?

"I saw flames," Herbstreit said. "I had a sheet against it and it caught fire."

She says she tossed some wet rags on it and doused the flames, which were already melting her laundry jugs.

Her daughter says the Swiffer still had the original Duracell AA batteries inside it, saying they had never changed or attempted to recharge them.    

Company to investigate

We contacted Procter and Gamble, where spokesperson Julia LaFeldt told us

"The safety of our consumers is our utmost priority, and we are treating this seriously as we do with all product issues and concerns. We have responded to Rikki via Twitter asking that she contact our Consumer Care number so we can learn more about what happened, and arrange for her to send in her device so we can investigate further. I can confirm that this is not a recurring issue that we’ve seen with the Swiffer WetJet."

P&G recalled the original Swiffer Sweeper Vac back in 2004, after several reports of them overheating and melting, and one fire that caused minor property damage. It has had no issues with the Sweeper Vac overheating since, and new models are completely safe, the company says.

Despite an extensive search, we found no fire complaints involving WetJets, either with the CPSC or consumer complaint websites.

Rikki Houghton only wonders what could have happened if her mom hadn't been in the kitchen at the time.

"If she wasn't home, and maybe the whole place had burned down....I never even thought of this being a possibility," she said.

P&G tells us it will conduct a full investigation into what happened with her Swiffer. However, since this was the only complaint it has received, and since it appears to be an isolated case, the company does not believe it to be a safety issue at this time.

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