When we built our house more than nine years ago, we splurged on stainless steel appliances. It was an edgy, modern choice that added some industrial flair to our new-build kitchen. This was before my kids wiped what I can only assume are hands dipped in honey and then into every canister of dry goods we own all over those appliances for years to come.
Enter fingerprint-resistant stainless steel. I’d heard rumblings about this magical surface for a couple of years, but had never tried wiping my own hand across it until we redesigned our kitchen using Whirlpool black stainless appliances.
It’s not a unicorn, friends. Smudge-proof stainless steel is a REAL thing. And choosing appliances with this finish won’t cost you a billion dollars, either.
Since you may have landed on this post looking for a variety of information, here’s what you’ll find below:
- What is black stainless steel?
- Why we chose our black stainless steel fridge
- The pros and cons of our black stainless steel range
- More about our black stainless steel dishwasher
- How do I clean black stainless steel appliances?
- The drawbacks of black stainless steel
First: what is black stainless steel?
Black stainless steel appliances are made up of the same things as your regular stainless steel ones — carbon, nickel, iron, silicon and chromium. Then there’s an added component (depending on the appliance manufacturer, it may be a special coating or something baked into the steel) to create that matte black look.
In real life, our Whirlpool black stainless appliances are more of a charcoal grey than a true black. Again — each appliance brand’s finished look will vary a bit, so you may want to check them out in person just to be sure you love the finish. (Which I do.)
If you see “fingerprint-resistant stainless steel” listed as a feature when you’re researching appliances, know that all black stainless steel is simply more smudge-proof because of that special coating. There’s really no difference between regular black stainless and fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel — any brand with a black stainless option will offer some extra protection against those little fingerprints.
My neighbour recently stood in my new Whirlpool black stainless kitchen with his mouth agape when I ran my fingertips across our black stainless steel fridge. Nothing. It looked the same no matter how many times I swiped it.
Wanna see our big reveal? This transitional kitchen post features all of our before and after photos, costs and general kitchen reno advice
While we had long stopped obsessively trying to keep fingerprint marks off of our old stainless steel appliances, it sure is nice to give these ones a quick wipe once a week to get rid of the few marks that do eventually appear with normal daily use.
Our fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel fridge
- What we chose: 36-inch Wide Counter Depth French Door Refrigerator – 24 cu. ft.
- Model number: WRF954CIHV
- Suggested retail price: $5,099
- You can browse all of Whirlpool’s fridge’s here
What we love about our Whirlpool fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel fridge
Going from an SUV-sized fridge to a counter-depth one was a pretty easy decision because (a) we planned to keep our old fridge in our garage for spillover space for excess condiments, beer and wine and occasions where we need more food storage space like Thanksgiving or birthdays, and (b) it would provide so much additional space in a corner of our kitchen that was previously very inaccessible.
But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about losing all of that interior space. Getting 24 cubic feet to play with didn’t seem like a lot when we compared it to the 30 or so we’d become accustomed to.
And that’s why we went with this specific model. Many of Whirlpool’s other counter-depth refrigerators met our size wish list but had an average of 20 to 22 cubic feet. Although this fridge is premium priced, it does store 30 per cent more (in its class) thanks to an efficient pantry-inspired layout.
I was really (and I mean really) surprised when we moved all of our food from our old fridge to the new one that we still had room for more. Yes, we kept a few things in the garage — our excess condiments (for us, that means 14 different kinds of mustard that definitely don’t need to be kept in our kitchen at all times) and two bottles of white wine that had been chilling in the old fridge’s door — but everything else came inside.
It’s the layout of Whirlpool’s 36-inch Wide Counter Depth French Door Refrigerator that’s made it possible to lose all of those cubic feet and not really feel it. In fact, the pantry-style layout also means I can see everything at a glance, rather than needing to reach around food lined up only at the front (and, frequently, forgetting the things in the back).
With features like an infinity slide shelf and adjustable shelves on both doors, there’s plenty of room for tall items like milk cartons. At the same time, if you don’t need that kind of “head room” (or just need a little bit) you can just slide the shelf to give you what you need above or below it. The adjustable centre pane gives us the room we need — even if it’s just an inch.
The auto-humidity crispers easily store fruits and veggies of all shapes and sizes. I can get a full head of broccoli, several bell peppers and zucchinis, a big bag of baby carrots, a cucumber or two and then some in my veggie drawer, for example. And the automatic humidity control keeps them fresher longer.
I really like having all of the controls hidden on the side of the door, too:
I’d never wanted a fridge with an external water and ice dispenser because they often take up too much space inside the fridge and, in many cases, even prevent the entire door from having functional space. This particular model, however, doesn’t have that problem. We can’t get as much into the door shelves on the left as we can on the right, but we don’t have any regrets. Plus, my kids are drinking more water than ever before because the dispenser is in plain view. (And having a crushed ice option, which we’ve never had, is GOLD.)
And then there’s my fancy Platter Pocket. Wide, flat items like brownie or lasagna pans, and even flatter packaged foods like tortilla shells or Morning Rounds, stay tucked out of the way in their own space that’s designed to keep them safe from stacking.
Pro Tip: When you’re reading measurements to see if your new fridge will fit into an existing cutaway in your kitchen, be sure you carefully consider EVERY measurement available (or, better yet, go measure it yourself in person). I used the “height” measurement listed online for our black stainless steel refrigerator and when it arrived, it became clear pretty quickly that measurement was for the back section of the fridge but didn’t account for the doors, which sit a full inch higher (that is, in fact, a different measurement — lesson learned!). Thankfully, our brilliant cabinet-maker was able to create a smaller cabinet using our existing cabinet doors to make the fridge fit — but we were lucky.
Some things to keep in mind:
- It may be that our French door on the right doesn’t completely open because it hits our countertop, but our fruit crisper doesn’t quite open all the way as a result. Not a huge deal but something to consider if you’re measuring for a tighter kitchen area like we have
- We don’t have as much “on call” ice as we did with our old fridge, so for parties we need to access the ice-maker in our garage fridge. However, for everyday usage, we have more than enough
Our fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel range
- What we chose: 5.8 cu. ft. Smart Front Control Gas Range with EZ-2-Lift™ Hinged Cast-Iron Grates
- Model number: WEG750H0HV
- Suggested retail price: $2,499
- You can browse all of Whirlpool’s ranges here
What we love about our Whirlpool fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel range
In what was nearly a total deal-breaker for me, we now find ourselves with an all-gas oven/range.
Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely LOVE a gas-top range. There’s nothing like the instant heat and glorious flames shooting up to cook your food. I’ve been cooking with gas exclusively for a long, long time and wouldn’t have it any other way.
But back when we first selected appliances for our home, the general consensus was that a dual-fuel range was the better option because (according to my previous research) gas didn’t bake things consistently and evenly. That means gas on top but electric in the oven, which Whirlpool doesn’t make.
So I delved into the online reviews and read hundreds to be sure I wouldn’t be left with range regret.
And I’m pleased to tell you that we’ve put both the cooktop and oven to the test over and over and are regret-free!
Here are some of the things we love most:
- This range is SO HOT. The medium setting is like the high setting on our old cooktop, and I hope that translates into lower gas bills, too. Boiling a kettle of water for my tea, for example, takes half the time it used to and boiling big pots of water (like, for pasta) is faster because the flame can grow bigger to accommodate our larger stainless pots
- The EZ-2-Lift Hinged Cast-Iron Grates means we can quickly access cooktop spills more easily than we could with our old grates. In an industry-first, Whirlpool has created a hinged design that lets you wipe up underneath without removing the grates! And the grates are also dishwasher safe (though I haven’t personally tried this yet)
- The touchscreen faces up rather than out. We used to stand in front of or lean against our old range for whatever reason and hit the touchscreen unnecessarily. We don’t do that anymore. The touchscreen on our new range also happens to learn, adapt and suggest customized presets based on our family’s routines — but we haven’t been using it long enough for me to tell you how much learning and adaptation it can do. We also have the option to select “control lock” on the touchscreen to prevent little fingers from pressing buttons and from making it beep like crazy when cleaning it
- We have true convection cooking. We can cook foods faster (compared to a traditional thermal-bake cycle on the same model) with the addition of a third element plus a fan that evenly distributes hot air all around whatever’s baking or cooking so you don’t end up with undercooked areas. Like I said, this was my biggest concern and — so far — everything we’ve baked or cooked has come out beautifully
- There’s a remote control option when paired with the Whirlpool App. This would allow us to use our smartphone or tablet to remotely turn our oven on, so it’s heated up and ready to cook when we are. Frankly, I haven’t had time to connect this and I’m not even sure it’s something I would use because I’m not, say, a commuter who needs that extra time. However, I thought I’d point it out in case it’s a feature you think you’d use
Some things to keep in mind:
- I wish the touchscreen was slightly more touch-sensitive. I appreciate that the reason you have to very deliberately press on a function area is to prevent accidentally brushing up against it, but it’s sensitive enough that to wipe it down you have to set the control lock anyway or you end up selecting all kinds of things
- I worry a bit about the touchscreen facing up and being made of glass — even if it’s tempered glass. The idea of accidentally dropping a heavy pot or pan on it and cracking it is a little nerve-wracking
Don’t forget to go see all of our kitchen reno before & after pics here!
Our fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel dishwasher
- What we chose: Stainless Steel Tub Dishwasher with Third Level Rack
- Model number: WDT970SAHV
- Suggested retail price: $1,349
- You can browse all of Whirlpool’s dishwashers here
What we love about our Whirlpool fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel dishwasher
I think I was most excited about getting a new dishwasher. Our old one had a feature that automatically dispensed dishwashing liquid that hadn’t worked since its second year of life, and it had clogged and flooded several times in recent years.
I don’t need bells and whistles when it comes to my dishwasher. I just want it to clean my dishes perfectly. And with that in mind, I chose this Whirlpool black stainless steel dishwasher based solely on its handle, which matched the handles on our new fridge and range.
It happens to have a third-level rack, which is said to provide 35 per cent more rack space (compared to Whirlpool dishwashers without one). We use that top rack primarily for excess cutlery, Tupperware-style lids and bigger utensils like wooden spoons. It’s a nice-to-have but not a need-to-have — matching handles would still be my priority!
Our dishwasher also has something called a TotalCoverage spray arm that cleans with twice the jets for more coverage than a Whirlpool dishwasher without such an arm. That means it has a smarter sequence of spray patterns from multiple nozzles that hits dishes with increased water pressure. And although I haven’t installed a GoPro inside to see what’s happening in real time, here’s what I know: my dishes go in very yucky (and I’m not a rinser, BTW) and come out VERY clean. No bits, no residue, no film, nothing.
And despite choosing our dishwasher purely for its looks, I’m in love with the sensor cycle feature! It senses your individual soil level and load size during prewash and wash cycles to automatically get the right temperature, wash and dry settings for each load. This has become our go-to cycle choice.
Some things to keep in mind:
- The addition of that third-level rack prevents us from being able to place our kids’ plates and tall glassware on the top shelf. I miss being able to continue my regular load patterns because I’m a creature of habit, but I’m adjusting just fine. Big B prefers the third rack to any dishwasher we’ve ever had, so it’s just me!
- I find the dishes on the second and third racks aren’t always dry by the end of the cycle, so I’m still toying with the setting to see if I can sort that out. (I’m sure this is also just me!)
How do I clean black stainless steel appliances?
I was so glad I did some research about cleaning our Whirlpool black stainless appliances before they arrived so I knew what NOT to do. As it turns out, cleaning regular stainless steel is totally different and you shouldn’t use stainless steel cleaner of any kind on your black stainless.
Paper towel and any harsh abrasives are also no-nos, but if you’re used to stainless, these are probably already off-limits anyway in your home.
Fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel needs three things to stay clean: a microfibre cloth, gentle dish soap and water. Sometimes we don’t even use the soap! Your cloth should be damp — not wet — and you should wipe in the same direction as the “grain” (just look closely at your new appliances to see if the brushed effect runs vertically or horizontally and stick with that).
What are the drawbacks of black stainless steel?
So — black stainless steel appliances look sleek and modern. They fit with just about any décor style. And they’re easier to keep clean than regular stainless.
Why wouldn’t this be everyone’s first choice when purchasing new appliances?
Well, they’re a bit more expensive. It’s marginal if you’re already considering stainless steel, but even $100 per appliance starts to add up if you need an entire kitchen suite and you’ve got all of the other expenses that come with a kitchen renovation. But, dang, they look fantastic!
One of the things I like most about the Whirlpool black stainless steel appliances we selected is that the handles on all of them are very similar to the regular stainless steel look.
While I wasn’t so sure at first that I’d like the steely metallic accent colour in my kitchen, which now features brushed gold cabinet hardware, it turns out I’m not bothered at all aesthetically and I appreciate the reason WHY. Those handles are, by far, the most-handled areas of each appliance and the likelihood of them getting scratched up is so much greater. (So far, so good!)
Now that you’ve picked some fancy new fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel appliances from a reliable brand and you know how to keep ‘em spick and span, I hope you enjoy grocery shopping and cooking more than you ever have.
Oh, and be sure to check our kitchen refresh with before and after photos! Happy cooking.
SPECIAL THANKS TO: Brian (905-626-2530) for another expert renovation project done on time and on budget as always; and Jeurgen (905-434-9201) for building our beautiful range hood cover and wine rack, and saving us from cabinet disaster when our fridge wouldn’t fit. Folks, these guys will take amazing care of you and create the space of your dreams without taking advantage of your pocketbook.
DISCLAIMERS: Prices listed are MSRP in Canadian dollars; prices may vary. I partnered with Whirlpool Canada on this project to provide you with detailed and honest information about the benefits and drawbacks of choosing fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel appliances. All opinions are my own.