Laundry operations - spontaneous combustion

Home / Risk Mitigation / Laundry operations - Spontaneous combustion

Spontaneous combustion of laundry is increasingly becoming the cause of fire insurance claims, resulting in significant losses for businesses.

If laundry is not correctly handled, spontaneous ignition or combustion can occur. Spontaneous combustion is caused

by a chemical reaction, or oxidisation, which causes an increase in temperature. If the material reaches its ignition temperature, spontaneous ignition, or combustion occurs. In laundry operations this most commonly occurs in piles of soiled laundry, particularly if soiled with oil or similar material, or piles of laundry which has not fully cooled after being in a dryer.

Experience shows us that many serious fire losses can be avoided. We have used our industry knowledge and claims experience to produce this easy to follow guide and self-assessment checklist. Below are some helpful hints to help you avoid fire hazards:

Soiled Laundry

  • Don’t leave soiled laundry in a pile or laundry bin overnight
  • Never place soiled laundry in a dryer
  • Don’t use bleach, stain remover or other oxidising chemicals until immediately before washing

Dryer Operation

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions 
  • Operate equipment within it’s recommended capacity
  •  Don’t interrupt the equipment’s operating cycle
  •  Immediately remove laundry from the dryer when cycle is complete
  •  Allow dried items to further cool before folding and storing
  •  Consider outsourcing laundry Operations


  • Inspect and clean the lint filter after every use
  • Ensure all dryers are regularly maintained, including calibration of timers and temperature controls 

New Equipment

  • When purchasing a new dryer consider automatic fire suppression functionality

    Download your self-assessment here




    Return to articles page