In recent years, there has been a growing trend of appliance manufacturers moving away from white as the default color for major home appliances like refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, and washing machines. Whereas white used to be the norm for decades, today there is much more variety in the colors and finishes that consumers can choose from. This has led some to speculate that white appliance finishes are being phased out or discontinued entirely. However, the reality is more nuanced. While white may no longer dominate the appliance market like it once did, it still remains a popular option alongside stainless steel, black stainless, matte black, and other finishes. Major brands continue to offer white as a color choice for most of their appliance lines. But the shifting preference away from white to more stylish finishes has raised questions about the future of the classic white look.
The Decline in Popularity of White Appliances
White appliances were ubiquitous in kitchens and laundry rooms for much of the 20th century. The bright, clean look of white enamel or plastic finishes fit well with the sleek, modern aesthetic that many appliances of the 1950s, 60s and 70s embodied. It also provided a neutral backdrop that could match any kitchen decor. By the 1990s, white made up over 50% of appliance sales. But since the turn of the 21st century, white appliances have fallen out of favor with both manufacturers and consumers looking for more stylish, premium options. By 2019, white appliances accounted for only 20% of sales.
Several factors contributed to this decline:
- Stainless steel rose in popularity – Fingerprint-resistant stainless steel offered a more modern, upscale look desired by consumers.
- Black and other colors gained ground – Matte black, glass black, and unique finishes opened up more options.
- White looked dated – The classic white look came to be seen as boring and dated compared to bolder finishes.
- Smudge resistance issues – White showed fingerprints, dirt, and wear more easily than darker finishes.
As aesthetics grew in importance for buyers, white no longer fit contemporary tastes and lifestyles as well as it once did.
Are Major Brands Discontinuing White Appliance Options?
Despite the declining sales, white appliances are far from being discontinued across the board. Most major brands still offer a white or whitish finish as one of several color options in their product lines.
|Brand||White/Whitish Finish Available?|
While not as prominent in their lineups as in the past, leading brands all continue to offer white as an appliance finish option alongside more popular choices like stainless steel and matte finishes. This allows consumers who prefer the look and feel of white to still purchase new appliances in that classic finish.
Within product lines, the white option may be marketed under various names indicating a slightly different shade or tone, such as:
- GE: White
- Samsung: White
- LG: White, Smooth White
- Whirlpool: White, White Ice
- Bosch: White
- Maytag: White, Bright White
- Frigidaire: White, White Ice
But a white or whitish color is still present. While white may play a more minor role, it has not been eliminated.
Are Particular Appliance Categories Phasing Out White?
Though white remains available across brands, there are certain appliance categories where the color is becoming harder to find. This includes:
Refrigerators – Stainless steel dominates refrigerator finishes today, making up over 75% of sales. White makes up around 15%. Many brands promote their stainless models front and center, while white fridge options are still available but harder to find.
Dishwashers – Stainless and black stainless are popular here as well,claimed over 60% of sales in 2019. But most brands still carry white dishwashers.
Ranges – After stainless, ranges are where consumers are most likely to select black, making white a very minor share. But white ranges can still be found.
Over-the-range microwaves – Stainless dominates to match other kitchen finishes, CLAIMING over 90% of sales. Very few OTR microwaves still come in white.
So while white remains in production, its presence is shrinking most noticeably for fridges, dishwashers, and cooking appliances where more stylish finishes rule. But even here, the option hasn’t been totally eliminated.
Is White Still Viable for Consumers?
For those who still desire the look and feel of white appliances, purchasing new models in that finish is still perfectly viable. Here are a few benefits that white appliances continue to offer:
- Timeless look – The white look remains classically clean, fresh, and timeless for many.
- Light and airy – White reflects light for an airier, less crowded feel than dark finishes.
- Neutral backdrop – White serves as a neutral canvas that fits with both light and dark cabinets.
- Affordable option – White often comes standard at the lowest price point for appliances.
- Matches existing finishes – White allows seamlessly blending new and old appliances.
While personal taste plays a big role, white can still be a great appliance finish choice in the right setting. For contemporary styles, white delivers a lighter, more subtle statement than bold stainless or black. In cottages or country kitchens, white offers a cheerful, vintage character. And for resale value in any home, white remains appealing to the widest range of buyers.
What Does the Future Hold for White Appliances?
It’s unlikely that white appliances will ever disappear fully from the marketplace. The health of options varies by product category, but at least limited choices will remain. Looking ahead, here are a few predictions for the trajectory of white appliance finishes:
- White will become more niche – It will continue fading from prominence but retain a small market share.
- New shades may emerge – Soft greys, off-whites, or antiqued finishes could update the white look.
- Specialty lines may offer white – Select retro or novel appliance series could include white options.
- Prices may rise for white – As a less popular finish, white may start commanding a premium.
- Quality could improve – Better scratch resistance and stain proofing may enhance durability.
While the era of white appliance dominance has clearly passed, it seems unlikely that manufacturers will abandon the classic look entirely. Consumers still have white choices from all major brands, though likely reduced from peak years. For those valuing a lighter, more subtle appliance finish, white should remain a high-quality option into the foreseeable future.
In summary, while white kitchen appliances have fallen out of favor compared to more stylish finishes like stainless steel and black, they are not disappearing from the marketplace. Leading brands continue producing white appliances, though the options are more limited than in the past for certain categories like refrigerators and ranges. The white look retains enduring appeal for some buyers though, thanks to its clean, fresh, timeless aesthetic. So while the dominance of white appliances has faded, quality choices are still available for those who prefer this classic look. The future will likely see white settling into a niche as a finish selected purposefully rather than by default. But its longevity and appeal means white appliances should maintain a place in kitchens well into the future.