Half a million machines sold in the UK are affected by the problem, which stems from a problem with the door locking system, which can overheat, creating the risk of fire.
The machines are all branded as Hotpoint or Indesit and were sold since 2014. However, a website set up to allow people to register their appliance as needing to be repaired has crashed. A separate list allowing people to check their model number against a list was not accessible yesterday, but has been reinstated today.
The delay will mean more time without a hot wash for many people, who are facing months until their machines can be repaired. Vulnerable customers are to be prioritised for repairs, which will not happen until after the Christmas break and could take weeks.
No refunds will be offered, leaving householders with little choice but to wait out the festive period without access to their washing machines - at a time when many laundrettes will be closed and some families will be hosting extra people for Christmas.
Householders have been told that they could use it on a 20 degree cold wash, which would reduce the risk. It is understood that 79 machines are known to have caught fire in this way.
The message on the website states: "We are very sorry that we continue to experience technical problems with our registration website and we deeply apologise for the delay and concern this has caused."
Adam French, Which? Consumer Rights Expert, said: “Millions of people who have just learned they may have a fire-risk washing machine in their home will understandably be worried and frustrated that they can't check if their Hotpoint or Indesit machine could be affected. Whirlpool needs to urgently work to get the site and phone line back up and running and clarify the advice they are currently giving to customers with an affected machine.“We also want Whirlpool to offer refunds to the many customers who cannot wait months for a repair or replacement, or who simply may not want a machine from the tainted Whirlpool brand in their homes.”
Marjorie Gibson, head of operations with consumeradvice.scot, said: “A mass product recall like this will cause considerable concern for consumers. As a result of high demand, Whirlpool’s website has been experiencing technical issues.
“To assist Scots owners of Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines, advisers at consumeradvice.scot have published information on how to check models, and what to do if it is one of those affected."
The recall is Whirlpool's second this year, after the company finally launched a full recall involving 500,000 tumble dryers following a lengthy safety modification programme. About 20 per cent of the Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines sold since 2014 are affected by the fault - a total of 519,000 appliances.
Affected customer can call Whirlpool's UK call centre on 0800 316 1442.