steam washers

elizawhyzaApril 5, 2012


Anyone know anything about steam washers? Our washer is on a service plan and is eligible for replacement. i'm intrigued by the steam features that are available but I'm a bit nervous about trying something new.


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gimmicky. tried mine (samsung 520). don't waste your money if that is the only feature between models. i got the steam model because of other reasons (like, it was 1/2 price!!!)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 4:54PM
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Water temp, proper detergent doses and mechanical actions gets you clothing cleaned.
Clean steam with chemicals is best done at the dry cleaner so I need not to say anymore!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 1:20AM
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Thank you for this feedback. I was thinking about this feature only as an interesting extra feature, not something we would use regularly. I hear you loud and clear on needing a machine that has a supplementary heater and good mechanics is more important.

In terms of detergent , do you think that less can be more? Sometimes I think the detergent manufacturers want you to use more than needed.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 5:55AM
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I have a steam washer, and use the steam feature constantly. I use it primarily for work scrubs that have been worn in the hospital--these can carry an infinite number of nasty bugs, not to mention various and sundry body fluids, lol--rags used to clean the house, and sometimes bed sheets.

Hot water sure is great for killing germs and getting clothes clean, but I like the additional sanitization that the extremely high temperatures of steam provide. (Steam is at least as hot as boiling water--and even my hottest tap water is not boiling--and can increase in temperature significantly from there.)

I agree re: detergent, less is more!! I use about 25% less than the bottle calls for. The washer repairmen often suggest this.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 1:03PM
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Forgot to mention, my mom's washer repair man advised her to use 1 tablespoon of HE detergent in her HE front-loader. The 25% less amount is just what I do.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 1:05PM
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Madeline, thanks for sharing. What brand and model do you have?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 1:06PM
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We use 1/2 of the recommended amount of detergent. works great

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 2:25PM
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Hi Eliza,

I have the "Kenmore Elite HE 5t Steam." It's served us really well for the past 4.5 years. One small repair, which was covered under warranty. Never had any odor problems--I do the "clean washer" cycle every few months, and don't use a ton of detergent. Also, I leave the door open between cycles.

The pedestal drawers are also something to think about. They raise the washer/dryer to a much more ergonomic level, and the drawer space is nice, but I give up the countertop-like surface area, and access to my cabinets above is difficult.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 2:48PM
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If you put your clothes in the drier, they will be subjected to much higher heat and a dry heat kills more bacteria and viruses than steam can, so there is no need for steam in the washing machine.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:19PM
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"Steam is at least as hot as boiling water..."

Well, no. "Steam" is water vapor. The temperature at which it becomes visible has mostly to do with the temperature of the air into which is emitted. That mist you see coming from rivers flowing past icy shores is "steam".

There are tons of goods being sold today using "steam" or "steem" in their logos. For example I own a carpet "steem" cleaner.....which cleans with warm or hot water. There are many examples of this.

True steam cleaning utilizing steam that is actually above the boiling point of water -- and actually does anything -- is not found in household washers.

Don't believe me? Run your "steam" cycle and just when that portion of the cycle completes and begins to rinse, stop the machine and put a quick-read thermometer in there. Come back and tell us if you get above 155-160F. Your good cleaning results are from hot water....not from any addition of "steam" that your machine is producing.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 7:59PM
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Asolo is correct. Wash temps don't approach steam temp when using the steam feature. Tis a gimmick

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 12:19AM
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Don't believe the hype about steam washers.

True steam cleaning is done professionally by blasting a jet of super-heated steam from a nozzle right through the soiled fabric - not by tossing clothes through steam. If that would work so great, any dryer could clean clothes. Remember Dryel? This product was meant to refresh clothes in the dryer; stains still had to treated with a special stain remover.

Steam features on washers work because they usually increase the duration of the main wash, thus giving the load a more intensive wash and sometimes more heat. I remember reading an older Whirlpool training manual about their steam washers and it said something along the lines of "The internal heater is used to raise the temp to 120F. The steam generator is then used to raise the temp to the final 122F." Clearly, no big boost by the steam feature here.

Today, the situation is even more different. Many manufacturers no longer include real steam generators in their washing machines. Instead, steam just means a longer wash with extra heat by the internal heating element underneath the drum. Whirlpool, Maytag, Electrolux, Frigidaire, some Kenmores... none of these washer have a steam generator. Even the newest LG washers do without them. Only Samsung and GE still have a steam generator for the entire line-up. There might be others.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 12:06PM
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Steam or "steem" in washers doesn't do anything for cleaning whether or not they possess actual generators. However, it certainly does help selling....or at least that's what their marketing departments believe.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 12:16PM
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Yeah, but I think if a washer has a steam feature, it should at least actively produce steam. Otherwise, every washer that even fills with warm water has a steam feature - because warm water naturally produces steam...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 12:23PM
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I have a similar opinion about the frequently-touted "profile wash" where the machine starts with cooler water and gradually heats it up supposedly allowing various soil-removal characteristics of the various temperatures full sway in the process. Most often mentioned as a benefit of the Miele models.

However, with the heat-loss extant in ALL of the new HE low-fill-volume washers, the incoming water pretty much ALWAYS starts out cooler and is heated up gradually (assuming a heat-added setting is chosen) so in-effect they ALL deliver a "profile wash" as a matter of course.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 1:00PM
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I have an LG washer that has a steam cycle. I love it. I still get things dry cleaned, but I think the steam cycle is useful for clean clothes that need refreshing. I use it when my DH forgets to hang up his suit jacket and its looking a little wrinkled. I use it when I have something clean, but its a bit wrinkled from being squashed in the closet. I sometime use it instead of ironing. The clothes come out a bit damp and need to be hung for an hour or so afterwards.

I think its a nice feature. That being said, when it was time to replace my dryer, I did not get the steam feature. I didn't understand why you would need it on 2 machines.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 10:05AM
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