After working as a chemist at a biotechnology company, I enjoy writing about science, travel, and gardening.
After a few years of use, many metal appliances form rust spots as the painted layer thins or begins to oxidize due to exposure to moisture. This is a common occurrence for clothes washers and dryers, as they are exposed to a high level of humidity.
Refinishing the surface of your dryer will not only make it look new, however, it will prevent the rust from corroding through the metal and causing damage to your appliance. Epoxy spray paint creates a durable, waterproof finish that will resist scratches and dirt.
Materials Required for Refinishing Appliances
Removing the rust will require the following tools:
- sanding sponge
- wire brush
- painter's tape
- sponge (to wash the dryer before you paint it)
- appliance epoxy spray paint (in a color that matches your dryer’s current color)
Note: The paint used for this project was white, but other colors exist (including beige and black).
Step 1: Sand the Dryer to Remove Existing Rust Stains
Use a coarse grit sandpaper to remove rust spots from the top of the dryer. An 80-grit sanding sponge is fantastic for removing stains from the top or sides of the dryer. A finer grade sandpaper is recommended for any corrosion on corners or in crevices.
For more stubborn rust, use a wire brush to thoroughly eliminate the oxidation. By completely eliminating the rust, you will prevent any additional oxidation from occurring underneath the new paint layer.
Step 2: Wash and Prepare the Surface for Painting
Use water on a sponge or cloth to wipe away sanding dust and any dirt and debris from the surface of your dryer. Allow the surface to dry thoroughly and apply painter’s tape to protect areas you do not want to paint. Remove the lint trap and apply painter’s tape to cover the interior of the trap. Use butcher block paper to cover the dials and knobs of the control panel if you are concerned about overspray onto these areas.
Step 3: Apply Epoxy Spray Paint
Read the label and instructions for use on the can of the spray paint you use, as instructions may differ by brand. Rust-Oleum and VHT are the most common brands that offer appliance-grade paint. Rust-Oleum is the easiest to apply and requires the least preparation work, but VHT has excellent heat resistance. If you are using the paint to resurface a stove top, VHT heat-resistant epoxy is recommended over Rust-Oleum appliance epoxy. Both options are cost effective and will give professional-looking results. Open windows and ensure adequate ventilation, as all epoxy spray paints contain fumes. A respirator mask and protective eyewear are recommended.
Apply the spray paint by using sweeping motions, so that the paint is evenly applied across the surface of the dryer. Do not spray the paint into one isolated spot, as it may pool and cause an uneven surface. Once the surface is covered by an even layer of paint, allow the paint to dry. Do not expose the surface to sunlight, as it may yellow if in direct sunlight. The surface will be dry “to the touch” in approximately 30 minutes, but will not be completely dry until a full 24 hours has passed. Do not use your refinished dryer until the paint is completely dry and hardened.
If your dryer (or other appliance) will be kept outside in direct sunlight, use an additional layer of clear paint over the epoxy to prevent yellowing of the surface.
Store leftover epoxy spray paint at room temperature, as extreme hot or cold temperatures will reduce the shelf life of the paint.
Identifying Corrosion That Cannot Be Refinished
If rust is not surface-level and penetrates deep into the metal of the appliance, the damage is too severe to simply refinish. An example of severe rust can be seen around the bleach dispenser on the washing machine above: this corrosion has actually eaten through the metal and caused holes in the dryer.
If this damage had been repaired when it was only surface-level, further damage could have been prevented. As it is, the chronic exposure to bleach and water has caused permanent damage to the metal and cannot be repaired through simple sanding and repainting measures. Be sure to treat your appliances as new rust stains develop to extend the life of the machines.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Leah Lefler
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on February 22, 2021:
Metal used outdoors definitely sees a lot of wear and tear, Peggy! It is so nice when it is refreshed!
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on February 22, 2021:
It is an incredible transformation, Adrienne, and a very simple home improvement to do! I am very impressed with the results and our dryer is easier to keep clean and has no rust forming now!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2021:
We have used rust remover first and then used Rust-Oleum to spray paint our lawn chairs. It lasts for several years. It is about time to do it again.
Adrienne Farricelli on February 21, 2021:
Hi Leah, that dryer surely got a great makeover! It looks like new. Kudos to you for being able to remove it so easily. I always thought there was nothing to do for that or that it would at least require professional intervention. I will keep watch for any rusty spots on my washer and dryer for early intervention.
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on February 21, 2021:
The same steps could be taken to revive your older metal lawn chairs, Peggy! Rust-Oleum also makes a bath and tile epoxy that is easy to apply in wet areas an has exceptional water resistance, so that product might work well for outdoor projects. The one caveat with any epoxy is that it must be followed up with a clear coat to prevent yellowing for items that will be exposed to direct sunlight.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 20, 2021:
Your article is excellent, showing photos along with the written advice. We do not have an appliance problem, but our metal lawn chairs need to be tackled one of these days. They are starting to show some rust spots.
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on February 20, 2021:
I would definitely try to repair the rust damage on your dishwasher, Liz! It will prevent the rust from causing permanent damage. Just make sure to cover your cupboards to prevent any spray paint from adhering to those surfaces!
Liz Westwood from UK on February 20, 2021:
This is a very helpful article. I have recently noticed a line of rust at the edge of my dishwasher door. I am now wondering whether to give this a go.