How to Paint a Washer and Dryer

Paint a washer
Photo illustration by MML

Henry Ford, when referring to his Model T car, said, "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." Appliance manufacturers have taken Mr. Ford's sentiment to heart and you can have any color washer and dryer you want as long as it is white, black, stainless steel, or dark grey.

Sure, there have been bursts of color-red or teal blue. And, who can forget the avocado and gold machines of the 1970s?

But, in reality, if you want a custom look for your laundry appliances, you are going to have to do-it-yourself.

Beyond adding a pop of pink or yellow or green to your laundry room, there are other practical reasons to paint a washer or dryer. Perhaps you've purchased a mismatched pair during a sale or a scratch and dent floor model. Painting the appliances will bring a cohesive look to the room and prevent the scratches from rusting and causing more damage.

Painting a washer and dryer is a bit like painting a car. You can actually take appliances to a body shop and have them do the work. You'll get a hard, professional finish but that can be a bit expensive. So, let's take a look at how to do the work at home.

Supplies to Get Started

Here's what you need to get started to repaint a washer and dryer in good repair:

  • Drop Cloth
  • Detergent Solution and Rags
  • Sandpaper 400-grit and 600-grit
  • Microfiber tack cloth
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Newspaper
  • Painter's masking tape
  • Appliance epoxy spray paint

For appliances that need some extra body work first, add these items:

  • Auto body filler
  • Plastic putty spreader
  • Paint scraper
  • Palm sander
  • Sandpaper 220-grit
  • Rust-inhibiting primer
  • Metal primer

Ready, Set, Paint

Let's start with a washer or dryer that is in good shape-no rust, no dents-but really needs a boost of color.

1. Unplug and empty the appliance of any laundry. If possible, remove it from the laundry room to an open, well ventilated space. This will prevent mishaps of paint overspray onto your walls and give you room to work. Always place a drop cloth under the machine.

2. Use a detergent/hot water mix to wipe down and clean the machine. Pay close attention to areas where residue can build-up. Wipe down with clear water and allow to dry.

3. With the 400 grit sandpaper, sand all surfaces that will be painted. The purpose is to dull the factory finish-not to remove every bit of paint-so the new paint will stick. Follow up with a second sanding with the 600-grit sandpaper.

4. Vacuum away the dust and wipe down the entire machine with a microfiber tack cloth. Next, wipe down with denatured alcohol.

5. Use painter's tape to protect parts of the machine-switches, dials, glass windows-that you do not want to paint. Some older dials and knobs can be removed for easier masking.

6. Follow the directions on the spray paint can and use steady strokes from left to right to paint the machine. Hold the can 12 to 16 inches from the appliance and spray with a steady motion, slightly overlapping each row of paint.

Recoat if needed within 30 minutes. If drips occur, allow them to dry and then sand away before touching up the paint.

7. Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours before using the appliances.

If you have a washer or dryer that has dents or rust, there's a bit of preparation that must be done before painting.

1. After you have moved the washer/dryer to the work area, use the paint scraper to scrape any loose or flaking paint from around rusted areas. Always scrape off bubbles of paint that have formed over rust.

2. Next, fill dents and small holes with auto body filler. Follow the product directions and mix in small batches. Apply with a plastic putty knife and scrape off as much excess as you can. Work quickly; the putty hardens in 10 to 15 minutes. If the rust is excessive and has eaten through to form a hole, cover the affected area with fiberglass tape.

Bond the tape to the machine with the auto body filler and then apply a coat of filler over the tape.

3. Once the putty has dried, sand the filled areas and any rusty areas with a palm sander and 220-grit sandpaper. Try to feather the edges around the filled and rusty areas to create a gradual transition to the rest of the body. Now follow the Step 3 directions above to sand the entire machine.

4. Vacuum away dust and wipe down with denatured alcohol.

5. Spray the rusted areas with rust-inhibiting primer. Allow to dry thoroughly.

6. Complete the paint job starting with Step 5 through 7.

Make It Custom

If you really want to make your washer and dryer one of a kind, add some graphic touches. After applying the base coat and letting it dry completely, you can add hand-painted details like flowers, polka-dots, or whatever design makes you smile.

Vinyl decals can also create some pretty eye-catching appliances. Follow package directions for application.