Steam Washer and Dryer Guide

Steam washers add steam to get rid of stains, wrinkles, odors and allergens. Steam dryers makes laundry soft and wrinkle-free.

How Steam Washers Work

Steam washer

Steam washers are more expensive than other types, but like high-efficiency models, they use less water and energy, which adds up to utility savings. A small amount of water produces a lot of steam, so they use less water than conventional models. Because steam expands, steam washers don't require as much energy to heat as many gallons of water as conventional models.

How It Works

Steam is used in several stages of the wash cycle.

Soak cycle. Steam and water combine to thoroughly soak the garments.

Wash cycle. Steam increase the water temperature helps the detergent dissolve faster, permeating fabric more effectively.

Rinse and spin cycles. Steam increases the temperature and sterilizes the clothes.

Steam cleaning lengthens the wash cycle, but you have the option of washing with just detergent and water.

How Washers Apply Steam

Some washing machines create steam by directly heating the water in the tub. Other models rely on a steam generator that heats water in a separate compartment, converts it to steam and sends it through a tube and nozzle, releasing it in the tub. Both models are effective.

Notable Features

When shopping for a steam washer, consider that different brands and models offer different features. Many washers incorporate steam with stain removers to more effectively clean clothes. Some brands have a steam washer with a self-cleaning steam option that cleans the tub. Most owners manuals recommend running the self-cleaning cycle once a month.

Some steam washers are specially designed to help those with severe allergies. These models have a cycle that uses steam to sanitize fabrics and rid them of dust mites and pet dander.

How Steam Dryers Work

Steam dryer

Conventional dryers apply direct heat to wet clothes to evaporate the moisture. The steam penetrates fabrics deeply, which softens them, reducing wrinkles. Also, because steam is hot, it sanitizes and deodorizes clothes and fabrics.

Steam dryers apply steam in different ways. Some brands don't release a stream of pure steam, but instead a fine mist to the clothes and fabrics. Other dryer models use a steam generator to release pure steam. Both ways effectively use steam to dry clothes.

Steam doesn't actually dry the clothes; it merely reduces the wrinkles and softens the fabric. The steam dryer releases steam before the cycle and once more during the drying cycle.

Even dry clothes benefit from a spin in a steam dryer. If you're in a time pinch take an article of clothing that smells or is wrinkled and throw it in a steam dryer for a quick 20-minute steam cycle.

Steam dryers also reduce wrinkles, which is particularly helpful if you're not around when the dryer cycle ends, leaving your clothes wrinkled when you return. This feature saves you time and drastically reduces the need for ironing.

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