Is a steam dryer worth it? What's the point?

stretchadApril 16, 2008

What is the point of the steam dryers and washers? What are the intended results and what would they be good for?

Must they be purchased as a pair or can you have a "normal" washer, but a steam dryer?

Has anyone tested the results of the steam feature?

I'm trying to determine if this is something I might actually use by learning about what the steam feature is good for, or if its just something I'd never bother with, due to how I clean my clothes...

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As far as I can tell, the purpose of the steam feature on either a washer or dryer is to get customers to spend more money! You can make your own "steam dryer" by tossing a damp cloth in with the item you want to steam and tumbling it on low for 15 to 20 minutes. Or you can hang the item in the bathroom while you take a hot shower.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 11:44PM
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jcrowley99, that's what I was thinking! Aside from using it to get out wrinkles, I can't see the point of these washers and dryers, UNLESS there are some other uses for it that maybe I hadn't thought of...anyone? anyone? Bueller?


    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 11:40AM
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I rarely use a dryer, so I REALLY don't see the point. But in a day and time where the bells and whistles are what catches the attention of the general public and the $$$ generated by the new bell or whistle...

Although the feature certainly would have it's usefulness if you need to freshen some clothing or you aren't diligent about removing dried clothing from the dryer when the cycle is done.

I just wonder how much more diligent would someone be when the "touch up" cycle is done than when the regular dryer cycle was done? What a waste of electricity...but we don't normally think about THAT, we consider what is convenient or easy first.

Most wrinkles can be smoothed out with a fine-mist spritz of water and your hand as well as the methods mentioned by jcrowley99. Have irons been outlawed? Remember when you "pressed" something? It almost sounds like a "microwave" (quick fix) answer to the problem of wrinkles for busy people.

It looks like you'll also need to hire a plumber for additional cold water service for the machine $$$$.

"Refresh (cycle) is designed to relax wrinkles and get rid of odors in 15 minutes." I can do the same thing by hanging something outside - what we used to call "air out". Brush the garmet, finger press any pleats or creases and hang outside in a breeze. ZERO electricity! Another waste of electricity is that you normally would not use this cycle for a whole dryer load of clothing, a few things at most!!!

"Touch Up is for loads that you've left in the dryer for too long after a cycle has ended." Since I hang my clothes on a line, they never languish into a pile of wrinkles in the dryer. I have been cursed with a very logical personality type. When I did use a dryer, I would take the clothes out of the dryer and hang them on hangers or fold them as soon as they were done to save me MORE work (if I would have ignored the buzzer and everything was a wrinkled mess) and everyone in the house was trained to do so as well (equal opportunity laundry).

I love hanging things on the line (indoors or outdoors, depending on the season and the weather) because it eliminates all the problems and wear and tear on the clothing caused BY the dryer.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 12:10PM
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Comments by Consumer Reports in their February 2008 issue:

"Three front loaders, the Kenmore Elite HE5t Steam, Whirlpool Duet Steam, and LG Tromm SteamWasher, have steam modes that claim to boost cleaning, sanitize fabrics, and remove stains. Such settings did better at removing stains -- the LG's, less so -- but the models cleaned well even when we didn't use the steam. We also tested the steam settings of Kenmore's and Whirlpool's matching dryers. Both use a water hookup and heat to get rid of wrinkles and odors, and they mostly did so with the shirts we tested. But the steam mode allows only up to four garments per load. Another wrinkle: At $1100 plus, those dryers cost about twice as much as our Best Buys."

When we purchased our LG set from Sears about a month ago, we asked the saleslady if she herself would purchase steam models if she were to buy a washer and dryer. Her reply was "heck, no", but the look on her face said "are you crazy?".

Despite all of the above, there seems to be some advantage with steam, especially for stain removal in the washer and wrinkle removal in the dryer, but at quite an additional cost.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 12:12PM
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In typical fashion, you don't really know what CR actually tested and how they were comparing vs. the non-steam example. To be fair they should do a controlled test w/ steam to a set temperature and compare that with an internal heater that heats to that same temperature.

After having the HE5t-Steam for a short while thought the steam was just another way of raising the temperature of the water/tub/clothing. Highly doubt the actual steam did much of anything different than just heating the water. For that matter, never actual saw any steam. Earlier someone posted a reference to a German publication that tested this stuff as well and concluded it didn't do anything. However, it is great marketing.

Could imagine a steam washer based on a hefty steam generator (like 240V 40A) that might do something significant. The steam generators in the LG & WP/Kenmore machines produce about 2/3 the amount of steam as a kitchen electric kettle. That *massive* amount of steam is mixing with about 40 lbs of clothing and water inside a stainless steel drum which is also sucking up energy.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 7:04PM
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There have been internet postings regarding the rusting of the vents of the steam dryers. One person noted the rusting after just 2 months of use. Was told by Whirlpool that it must be their water causing the damage. If you check out how the dryers work, all they do is inject cold water into a hot dryer, and use that the same way I would put a wet wash cloth into my dryer to fluff up or refresh a piece of clothing. For 200-300. dollars, I will use the wash cloth.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 9:43AM
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Was told by Whirlpool that it must be their water causing the damage.

That's pretty rich, given that steam is pure water regardless of how hard/soft the tap water it comes from is. Well, unless the dryer is heating the calcium and other minerals to the point where they vaporize.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 9:56AM
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Where is the rust occuring?

I have heard of people saying the grill over where the heat enters the dryer discolored/rusted on whirlpool dryers. I think that some discoloration is normal. On my Whirlpool made Kenmore dryer, that grill was dark when I got the dryer, unlike on whirlpool models where the grill is shinier.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 12:16PM
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The Whirlpool implementation on the dryer is not really steam from what's been described. It's sort of like atomized water which is steam-like but really just a very very fine spray. All the hardness minerals get sprayed in along with the water. Hasn't LG brought suit against Whirlpool because it's not really steam?

The boiling point of calcium is 1767K. That would be tough on the delicates.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 12:51AM
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