They Used To Last 50 Years

A 1950’s Hotpoint Refrigerator I purchased a few years back, worked perfect and had the original paint job. Almost 60 years old.
A vertical modular washer. Note that they have led lights under the timer.
Rusty lid in a newer Whirlpool washing machine.
  • A. Painting techniques have changed. For a long time washing machine lids used to be dipped in paint, so that every surface, nook and cranny could receive an adequate amount of paint to prevent rust. This was very effective and kept rust out, often times for decades. Now washer lids mostly are sprayed. The problem with this is that you physically cannot spray parts of the lid because of angles, so they do not receive any paint. Can you guess where the first part to rust is on a top loading washing machine? The lid! I’ve seen new washer lids begin to rust within a year. Over time the rust builds up and becomes an eyesore and eventually starts dropping rust flakes in the washer.
  • B. Quality and thickness of paint has changed. Appliances used to receive multiple coats of paint so that the paint job would hold up for a long time. Scratches are inevitable, but when there are multiple layers of paint, they are less likely to rust. Many new appliances have the thinnest of paint jobs and appear to have the bare minimum that the manufacturers can get away with. The end result is that appliances have rust issues all over the place.
  • C. Thickness of metal has changed. Appliances manufacturers used to use much thicker gauges of metal. These naturally gave the paint jobs better structural support to prevent paint chipping and also resisted rusting through for much longer. Now the metal is so thin that once exposed to water, the metal walls of modern appliances often rust all the way through which was unheard of in older appliances. You can also tell by the weight differences in older vs newer appliances. Older appliances would often weigh 20–40 lbs more per machine just because of the extra thickness in metal. Thin metal rusts and deteriorates much quicker, as well as dent much easier.
Appliances like this over 30 year old freezer used to be smooth and have thicker metal.
  • D. The surface of metal has changed. Almost all appliances used to incorporate totally flat, smooth surfaces. This made them easier to paint, easier to clean the surface and at the same time would not hold extra dirt and moisture. Newer appliances often have textured or tiny eggshell surfaces, sometimes all over, sometimes just the sides. This is the worst possible surface as it hold dirt and moisture and leads to accelerated rusting. I live in Hawaii, and it would blow your mind how quickly refrigerators rust out here on these textured appliance surfaces.
  • When appliances rust, it’s only a matter of time before people replace them. A rusty appliance is bad for consumers and the environment, so you would think manufacturers would be still creating appliances that have paint jobs that last for decades. But appliance manufacturers make money only when people buy new appliances, and by making appliances that rust more quickly, they sell more appliances.
  • What can you do about the rust problem? Buy smooth faced appliances if possible. Clean your appliances to keep them free of dust that can trap moisture on the surfaces that then rusts out the machine. Be careful to not scratch your appliances, especially the tops of washers and dryers by setting laundry baskets on them. Once you scratch them, the rusting process begins. Use a product like Rustoleum’s NeverWet to put a clear coat, rust preventative surface over your appliances paint before rust appears, especially if you live in a humid environment. Once rust appears, you can sand it down to bare metal with sand paper and repaint with an appliance epoxy, I recommend Krylon over Rustoleum because Krylon dries in 10 minutes, and Rustoleum takes at least 4–5 hours to dry. You can buy Krylon appliance epoxy at Sherwin Williams paint stores.
Pile of scrap appliances.



I live in Hawaii with my wife and our 5 kids. I love surfing and building things. Founder at

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