As many as 519,000 washing machines sold between October 2014 and February 2018 could be affected by a flaw with the door-locking systems that can cause them to overheat and catch fire.
The announcement comes after the firm launched a major recall this year of up to 500,000 tumble dryers which were found to be a fire danger.
The firm has said it intends to begin taking back machines in early January.
“When the heating element in the washing machine is activated, in very rare cases a component in the door lock system can overheat, which, depending on product features, can pose a risk of fire,” Whirlpool said.
Until January, customers have been advised to unplug their washing machines and not use them.
If customers wish to continue using the products, Whirlpool has advised only using cold water cycles of 20C or lower to significantly reduces the safety risk.
Jeff Noel, the company’s vice president, has apologised to customers for the inconvenience of the recall so close to Christmas.
“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience and concern this may cause to our customers, particularly over the Christmas period, but we hope people will understand that we are taking action because people’s safety is our top priority,” Mr Noel said.
“Preparing for a recall of this scale is a complex operation and we are working tirelessly to ensure we are ready to start offering replacements or repairs to our customers from early January.”
Whirlpool added that “no serious injuries have been reported” from the fault so far.
However, the recall is likely to harm confidence in the company after a four-year controversy about the safety of its appliances.
In 2018, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the chair of the Grenfell Tower inquiry, said he had “no doubt” that the tower block fire was started by an electrical fault in a Hotpoint fridge-freezer.
He dismissed the claim by Whirlpool that the fire could have been started by a discarded cigarette as “fanciful”.
This year, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee criticised the company’s response to its tumble dryer fault.
“Whirlpool’s response to fixing safety flaws in its tumble dryers has too often owed more to PR management than to taking the practical steps to make its machines safe for customers,” Rachel Reeves, the committee’s chair, said.
Ms Reeves also criticised Whirlpool’s use of non-disclosure agreements which she said were used to “silence customers”.
When the dryer fault was discovered, the firm resisted demands for a full recall and instead opted for a lengthy “safety campaign” to modify 1.7 million products.
In November, MPs said it was “extraordinary” that as many as 800,000 of the defective dryers could still remain in people’s homes four years after Whirlpool revealed they were a fire risk.
All customers affected by the washing machine recall will have the choice of either a free like-for-like replacement or a free in-home repair of their current appliance.
Customers can check if their machine is affected by calling a freephone hotline (0800 316 1442) to speak to a Whirlpool adviser who can check the model and provide further information on the recall.
They will need both the model number and the serial number of their appliance to check if the product is affected – both codes can be found inside the door or on a label on the rear of the appliance.
The Office for Product Safety and Standards said it would be closely monitoring Whirlpool to “ensure the recall is carried out successfully”.
Additional reporting by PA