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Why Is My Fridge Not Magnetic?

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Refrigerators have long been the informational and culinary hubs of our homes. Their magnetic finish lets us keep track of all the things we hold dearest, from report cards to an elaborate magnet collection. However, some fridges don’t have any magnetic properties. What gives?

Your fridge is not magnetic is because it either has too much nickel in it to hold magnets or your magnetic sealant strip has become weaker over time. A weakened seal is especially likely if your fridge is not sealing shut anymore. 

If you want your fridge to hold magnets, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll help you understand why some fridges aren’t magnetic, and I’ll also share some tips and tricks you can use to magnetize your fridge. 

Why Are Some Fridges Not Magnetic?

Most people expect all refrigerators to have a magnetic front, but not all of them do. That’s because each fridge is made from a different metal alloy that might or might not be magnetic. 

Some fridges aren’t magnetic because the stainless steel used to strengthen them includes too much nickel or other metals. These metals incorporate more carbon to prevent warping, cracking, and scratching, but may also cause a loss of magnetism.

According to Peter Eng, a physicist at the University of Chicago, many metal-finish refrigerators are made with nickel to strengthen and reinforce the steel. This reduces the likelihood of damage to the refrigerator.

However, a side effect of having a stronger-than-steel refrigerator is a loss of magnetism. Stainless steel refrigerators with more than 2% nickel content cannot hold magnets. Alloys containing metals like manganese, carbon, and nitrogen cannot attract magnets either. 

These stainless steel alloys are called austenitic stainless steel. They lack the atomic structure of magnetic stainless steel. They have more atoms in each cube-shaped molecule, which renders them non-magnetic. 

On fridges made of this alloy, you may notice that the refrigerator will become magnetic if you bend, dent, or scratch the metal. That’s because a scratch will move some of the carbon, nickel, manganese, or nitrogen out of the way and expose the stainless steel at the core of your fridge’s metal exterior. However, this isn’t always the case. 

Depending on how many other metals are included in your stainless steel alloy, your fridge may never become magnetic on its own. Still, these metals make your fridge stronger, so they do ultimately serve a purpose, even if that’s not holding all of your magnets. 

What Do You Do if Your Refrigerator Isn’t Magnetic?

Even if your refrigerator is not magnetic, there are several things you can do to add magnetic spaces to your kitchen.

If your refrigerator isn’t magnetic, you can secure items to the refrigerator in other ways. Consider using magnetic paint and primer on the appliance, or attach a magnetic board to the fridge. In addition, you could stick magnets to the side of the refrigerator or use putty to hang desired items.

Let’s take a look at these options a little more in-depth.

Use Magnetic Paint

Magnetic paint and primer will turn any surface into a magnet board from your cupboards to your fridge. It is simple to use and lasts a long time without chipping or peeling. 

I recommend Magnetize-It! Magnetic Paint and Primer from Amazon.com. This paint won’t just work on your fridge, it will also work on surfaces made from wood, drywall, plaster, and more, allowing you to turn almost any surface in your home into a space for art and aesthetics.

Attach a Magnetic Board to Your Fridge

If you want all of the benefits of a magnetic fridge, you can place a magnetic whiteboard or a sheet of pure stainless steel on it. To attach the board to your fridge, you will need to use adhesive strips like command strips or suction cups. 

Stick Magnets To the Side of Your Fridge 

Most metal-coated refrigerators that are not magnetic still have pure stainless steel sides. This means that while the face of your fridge may not be able to hold magnets, you will still be able to use the sides as magnet boards.

Use Putty

Sticky putty is a great way to stick magnets, papers, or magnetic boards to your fridge. If you are looking for some, I recommend Loctite’s Fun-Tak Mounting Putty (available on Amazon.com). This product holds on to metal fridges very well and comes off cleanly whenever you want to remove it. It also money-backholds heavy magnets and dry erase boards, making it perfect for non-magnetic refrigerators. 

Can a Fridge Become Demagnetized Over Time?

A fridge can become demagnetized over time because magnets lose strength as they age. With that said, the outer surface of a refrigerator is not a magnet. There are, however, magnets that seal refrigerators shut and those may become weaker over time.

Many refrigerators include magnets on the inside of the door that keep it closed. That’s how they keep the cold in and keep the warmth out. 

These magnets that seal your fridge can become less effective over time, which might make your fridge less efficient. In the worst-case scenario, your fridge door will open on its own a lot and result in all your food becoming spoiled. 

That’s because magnets reduce in strength as they age. 

Magnets are only attracted to each other if all domains – that is, the particles in the magnet – face in the same direction. 

The positive domains attract the negative domains, and vice versa, creating a tight magnetic bond. However, these domains can turn or shift over time, resulting in a weaker magnet that doesn’t attract metal or other magnets like it used to. 

If the domains shift or turn around, they need to be “recharged,” so to speak. Generally, it is good to recharge your magnets every few years to keep them in the best condition. 

How Do You Remagnetize a Refrigerator?

If the issue you’re facing is weakened magnets on your refrigerator door, you can remagnetize them to make them strong again. In order to do so, you’ll need another strong magnet, like a neodymium magnet. 

I recommend the DIY MAG 1” Cube Neodymium Magnets from Amazon.com. From personal experience, they never let me down when re-magnetizing my fridge. They are coated with a triple layer of nickel, copper, and nickel to ensure durability and they also come with a 100% money-back guarantee. 

In order to remagnetize your fridge, you will need to: 

  1. Open your refrigerator door. 
  2. Find the magnetic strip that seals your fridge’s door.
  3. Take your neodymium magnet and slowly rub it against the strip 50 times, always sliding it in the same direction. 

Once this is done, your fridge should seal tightly again! You can also do this for your refrigerator door or other magnets to keep them in the best condition possible. 

For best results, repeat this process every year. Doing so should keep your magnet potent and attractive to other metals. 

Final Thoughts

Although many fridges have magnetic fronts, this is not the case for all of them. If your fridge is inherently non-magnetic, you will not be able to make it magnetic. However, you can use magnetic paint, magnetic boards, or putty to stick magnets to them. 

Other refrigerator doors use magnets to stay sealed, but they can lose power over time. If this happens, the fridge will become demagnetized, and you will have to use neodymium magnets to remagnetize it.