Millions of Americans have the battery powered Swiffer Wet Jet in their homes, which sprays a cleaning fluid on your floors as you wipe 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 Northern Kentucky family's experience 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 Wet Jet floor cleaner.
It was leaning against the washing machine, when Houghton claims 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 Wet Jet is a melted, blackened hulk, at the end of the 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," Hebstreit 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. We will arrange for her to send in her device so we can investigate. I can confirm this is not a recurring issue with the Swiffer Wet Jet." (Read full statement below)
P&G recalled the original Swiffer Sweeper Vac back in 2004, after several reports of 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 Wet Jets, 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. Until it releases some findings, Houghton is talking the batteries out of her own Wet Je,t just in case.
Full Statement from Procter & Gamble:
"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."
Julia LaFeldt, P&G Spokesperson
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