At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What are White Goods?

J. Beam
J. Beam

White goods are household items of two distinctly different groups. Household linens are most commonly referred to as white goods, but this term can also refer to major household appliances, such as the stove and refrigerator, which are often factory-finished in white enamel. It is common to refer to all household linens as white goods, hence the ever-popular department store “white sale.”


Towels and bedding are considered "white goods."
Towels and bedding are considered "white goods."

Many people are familiar with department store white sales. These sales are given this name because they place their inventory of white goods such as sheets, towels, bedspreads, pillowcases and other linens on sale. This type of goods encompasses nearly every common household item made of fabric. Originally, these items were made of white cotton or linen fabric. Although modern white sales do not limit their repertoire of goods to those that are white, the name has stuck.


Even large household appliances are sometimes referred to as "white goods."
Even large household appliances are sometimes referred to as "white goods."

White goods also can be the household appliances that accomplish everyday housekeeping tasks, whether active or passive. This type of goods typically includes all the large, typically electrical appliances in the home. A refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer and dishwasher can all be called white goods. Other appliances such as hot water heaters and air conditioners also are included in this category. The proper and environmentally friendly disposal of these appliances is sometimes called white goods recycling.

Usage by Region

Washers and dryers may be referred to as "white goods."
Washers and dryers may be referred to as "white goods."

The different uses of the term can vary from one place to another. In the United Kingdom, for example, the more common usage is in reference to household appliances. In the United States, however, it is more often used to refer to linens. In other countries, either usage might be more common — or the term might not be used at all.

Similar Expressions

"White goods" may include a kitchen stove.
"White goods" may include a kitchen stove.

There are several similar expressions for other types of goods. Small household appliances, such as microwaves, toasters, blenders and coffeemakers, are sometimes referred to as brown goods. Pieces of large equipment used in construction or manufacturing are sometimes called yellow goods. The term "gray goods" is used to describe either the unfinished material that is used to make white goods or branded goods that are sold by someone who is not authorized to sell them in that area — a derivation of the term "black market." Products that are environmentally friendly might be referred to as green goods.

Discussion Comments


I always look forward to some of my favorite stores annual white sales. This is a good chance to stock up and get some great prices on linens and towels.

These items wear out after regular use, and it is nice to have fresh, new ones every so often. It seems like most stores have these in the spring, when you are ready to get rid of the old and buy new.

Unless it is something I need right away, I like to wait until the white sales and buy new towels and sheets. I can usually buy these at a savings of 50% off what I would pay new for them.

I have never heard the term 'white goods' referring to household appliances before -- though I guess it makes sense, since many of them are in white enamel.

In fact, I remember when there was a time when most major appliances were made with white enamel, but of course there are many more options available today.


@feruze - I think you would save more money by either placing your current white goods in storage or selling them. Then you could buy different ones when you come to the US.

My daughter married a man from Ireland, and they lived there for seven years before moving to the United States.

It was much cheaper for them to buy white goods once they got here than ship over what they already owned. The cost of shipping them here would have cost more than purchasing them new when they got here.

If you don't want to purchase new appliances, there are many places where you can find good used ones.


@feruze-- Of course there are, stores have discounts all the time.

I think that even the discounted white goods will last you more than 3 years. So I don't think you have to worry about that. I don't know about other countries and can't compare prices, but I don't consider white good prices to be high in the US at all. I actually think it's very affordable.

I believe you will have to pay for a container to bring your white goods from the UK right? And don't forget that our appliances work with a different watt, so you will have to get your UK appliances will have to be switched over by an electrician when you get here.

That's a lot of trouble if you ask me. You'll probably save more money buy buying new goods here. You might even be able to find clean second hand white goods. But like I said, new ones are pretty affordable, so it's probably not necessary.


@simrin-- My husband an I will be relocating to the US this summer from the UK. We're not sure if we should take our white goods with us or not. Our white goods are all brand new because we got married just a year ago. And you've mentioned that white goods are fairly expensive in the US. Do you think we'd be better off bring our white goods with us?

I'm not sure if we should take the trouble. We'll be in the US for 2-3 years at the most and if we can find cheap white goods, I don't mind using them since we'll probably be selling them when we return. But if it's going to break down even before then, then it might be worth it to bring my white goods with me.

Aren't there discount white goods in the US? For things other than linen of course?


I think using the term "white goods" for home appliances is also becoming common in the US. I actually hear people talk about washers, dryers and refrigerators as white goods all the time.

I had no idea that the name comes from linens! I always thought that it had to do with most household appliances being white. Although that's also changing these days.

White goods are important for each household. We can't live without them. The bad part is that they cost a lot and new ones are made constantly. So renewing them is a problem. There are cheap white goods available but those are usually bad quality and break down really fast.


@DinoLeash: Yes, there are also brown goods. Most consumer electronics such as TV’s, radios, CD/DVD players, and computers are known as brown goods.


On another note, isn't there also something called brown goods?


by deduction in repo rates would it be the effect on white goods?

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Towels and bedding are considered "white goods."
      By: zhekos
      Towels and bedding are considered "white goods."
    • Even large household appliances are sometimes referred to as "white goods."
      By: Ljupco Smokovski
      Even large household appliances are sometimes referred to as "white goods."
    • Washers and dryers may be referred to as "white goods."
      By: Ghost
      Washers and dryers may be referred to as "white goods."
    • "White goods" may include a kitchen stove.
      By: Superingo
      "White goods" may include a kitchen stove.