Steam Washer and Dryer Guide



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

How Steam Washers Work

Steam washers are more expensive than common washers, but like high-efficiency models, steam washing machines use less water and energy, which adds up to saving on utility bills. A small amount of water produces a lot of steam, so steam washers use less water than conventional washing machines.

What Happens In Each Cycle

Steam is used in several stages of the wash cycle.

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

Wash cycle: Steam increases the water temperature, helping the detergent dissolve faster and permeate the 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 steam washing machines create steam by directly heating the water in the tub. Other steam washers 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 for cleaning.

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 manufactures recommend running the clean cycle monthly. 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

Conventional dryers apply direct heat to wet clothes to evaporate the moisture. Steam dryers inject steam onto the clothes one or more times during the cycle. The steam penetrates fabrics deeply, which softens them, reducing wrinkles. Also, because steam is hot, it sanitizes and deodorizes clothes and fabrics. Steam doesn't actually dry the clothes; it merely reduces the wrinkles—so you iron less—and softens the fabric. Even dry clothes benefit from a spin in a steam dryer.

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