Should I Get White or Stainless Steel Appliances in 2022?

Kelly Weimert
Written by Kelly Weimert
Updated March 30, 2022
Couple shopping for kitchen appliances
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Your appliances can have a major impact on your kitchen's overall aesthetic and functionality, so it's important to choose the right type for your needs. Stainless steel and white kitchen appliances are both popular options, but each has certain advantages and disadvantages. Below, we outline the key differentiators between both types of appliances so you can make the best choice for your budget, lifestyle, and aesthetic.

The Cost of Stainless Steel vs. White Appliances

One of the first things many people consider is the cost of new home appliances, and this can vary quite a bit by appliance. Dishwashers, for instance, typically cost $400 to $700, while refrigerators can cost anywhere from $900 to $8,000

Whether you get white or stainless steel can also affect appliance cost. Stainless steel appliances typically cost $150-$300 more than white appliances. However, there are many factors that can influence appliance cost, including brand, features, and finishes. 

For instance, since stainless steel can smudge easily, some stainless steel appliances have smudge-resistant finishes, but this feature may cost you $50 to $100 or more extra. Similarly, black stainless steel appliances are better at resisting smudges than their silver counterparts, though they may cost $100-$200 extra for this reason. 

That said, some brands offer stainless steel and white appliances at very similar or the same price points. You can also buy used appliances if you're looking for a more budget-friendly option.

Are Stainless Steel or White Appliances Easier to Clean?

Kitchens can get messy quickly, especially in a house full of little ones, so knowing which appliance type is easier to clean is crucial.

Stainless Steel Appliances Show More Scratches and Fingerprints

Perhaps the biggest drawback of stainless steel appliances is how easily they show fingerprints and other grime. Because stainless steel has a shiny appearance, even touching it with clean hands can leave a mark on the surface. The good news is that stainless steel is typically very easy to clean. These appliances usually only require a quick wipe-down to restore their original appearance.

White Appliances Show More Dirt

A major benefit of white appliances is that they don't show fingerprint smudges and scratches as easily as stainless steel. However, they may show dirt more easily, especially around the handles. Sometimes, white appliances can even stain over time, making it very difficult or impossible to completely restore them to their original appearance. 

If smudges, dirt, and scratches are a major concern, you might consider installing black kitchen appliances, which easily hide flaws.

Which Appliance Lasts Longer: White or Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is an alloy, which makes it highly durable and rust- and water-resistant. Stainless steel appliances often last for years without showing many (or any) signs of wear and tear. For instance, you can expect a stainless steel refrigerator to last about 10 to 15 years. White appliances can potentially last as long as stainless steel, depending on their quality and how well they're maintained. 

Regardless of whether you choose white or stainless steel, there are several steps you can take to help your kitchen appliances last longer. Performing regular surface-level cleaning, like wiping down your appliances, can help prolong their appearance. And doing regular deep-cleans of your appliances, such as cleaning the condenser coils in your refrigerator, can increase your appliance's lifespan while ensuring they continue to work as intended.

Just as fashion and decor trends change over time, so do kitchen appliance trends. For a long time, white appliances were the most popular option. However, when stainless steel appliances came on the market in the 1950s, they surged in popularity, with many homeowners replacing their white appliances with stainless steel alternatives.

Fast forward to today and you'll find that white appliances are making a comeback as more homeowners are choosing to incorporate the classic style into all sorts of aesthetics, ranging from modern farmhouse to contemporary. But stainless steel is still a very popular option, particularly in more contemporary kitchens. 

The more popular material is always subject to change over time, so what's popular today could become less popular tomorrow. Therefore, your best bet is to choose an appliance material that aligns with your personal aesthetic preferences. Even if it's not the most popular choice right now, it could very well become the go-to choice in future years.

Consider Your Design, Budget, and Lifestyle

When all is said and done, the best kitchen appliance for you depends on your budget, lifestyle, and aesthetic.

Aesthetic Considerations

When it comes to aesthetics, if you have an all-white or very light kitchen, then white appliances will make it look even lighter and brighter. However, stainless steel can provide a welcome visual contrast in kitchens like these as well. Stainless steel also looks great in kitchens with darker color palettes, like those with black or navy blue cabinetry, making it a highly versatile finish.

Lifestyle and Budget Considerations

Your lifestyle and the size of your household can also impact which appliance type is right for you. For instance, if you live in a busy household with children, then you might prefer white since it won't show fingerprints as easily as stainless steel. 

For budget-conscious homeowners, white appliances are a great option because they tend to cost slightly less than stainless steel appliances. However, there are plenty of affordable new and used stainless steel options on the market, so stainless steel doesn't necessarily have to be off the table if budget is a primary concern.

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