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Pandemic Fears Fuel New Appliance Options

Appliance manufacturers are pushing refrigerators with sterilizing ultraviolet lights and germ-killing washing machines during the pandemic.

NEW YORK – Appliance manufacturers have a new focus on keeping bad germs out as they try to attract virus-weary buyers to their new products. LG Electronics, Whirlpool and others are rolling out products that focus on hygiene.

LG Electronics, for example, touts refrigerators with sterilizing ultraviolet lights. Whirlpool Corp. launched washing machines with built-in heating designed to eliminate germs from clothes. Beko Electrical Appliances Co. introduced “HygieneShield” to a range of its refrigerators and ovens that include disinfection drawers.

“People now think of home as the safest area – and they’re using their appliances more because they’re at home,” Dae-hyun Song, president of LG’s home appliances and air solutions division, told The Wall Street Journal.

Since the pandemic, consumers have rushed to buy products for greater germ control inside their homes. From mid-March to the end of August, sales of vacuum cleaners, fans, humidifiers and water filters climbed 32% compared to a year ago, according to NPD data. Washing machines with purifying steam functions increased in demand by 46% from May to August. Air-treatment appliances increased 23% over the same time period.

“All of our product development now is being done through the lens of hygiene,” says Mark Choe, a senior vice president at Samsung’s digital appliances business division.

LG is taking it a step further by even promising that some of its cleaning products with steam functions can “kill over 99.9%” of viruses when sanitizing items. It’s also starting to sell a “wearable” air purifier. It’s worn over the face and has small motors that direct air through a pair of HEPA filters.

Source: “Refrigerators, Ovens Get a Hygiene Makeover During COVID-19 Pandemic,” The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 2, 2020) [Log-in required.]

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