What Does a Steam Washing Machine Do? Answered

Today, steam washing machine is considered to be a revolutionary option for people who want to lift their fabric care and laundry to new higher levels. However, what are these high-tech appliances and how do they differ from the conventional washing machines? This is the complete guide on steam washers and their features for steam wash.

About steam Washing Machines?

Steam washing machine means a washing machine which provides more than simple washing by incorporating an extra element of steam to clean fabrics better than usual. These are heaters that heat water to produce pressurized steam vapor which is injected into the wash drum during particular times.
Another advantage to steam washing machines compared to regular washers is their superior ability to clean. The use of hot steam helps in the cleaning process by washing out dirt and stains from fibers. It also enhances the penetrating power of detergent and bleach. Therefore, the clothes seem to be much cleaner and fresher in totality.

There are a few different types of steam washing machines available:

Front load steam washers: There are also other types that have a door on the front to load clothing. Such structures are generally more water and energy efficient. Also, they tumble clothes gentler for better fabric care.

Top load steam washers: They are lidded and users feed clothes into an upright drum. They are a little cheaper but still provide the steam cleaning.

Combination steam washer/dryer units: They perform both washing and drying of laundry. They occupy less space making them suitable for smaller living areas. Nevertheless, each function may be subtly hindered.

IFB steam wash Washing machine range top, front, washer and dryer combo

Also read,

Which Washing Machine is Best – Top Load or Front Load?

Having gone through the basics, let’s look at how steam washing machines work and what distinguishes them from the regular washers.

How Do Steam Washing Machines Work?

Steam washers incorporate special steam generation features not found on typical laundry appliances. Here is an overview of how they function:

  • Steam generator – There is a separate internal boiler that heats up water to very high temperatures, converting it into concentrated steam vapor. This allows on-demand steam production.
  • Steam distribution – The pressurized steam is fed through inlet valves into the sealed wash drum. It gets evenly distributed throughout the drum during steam cycles for uniform cleaning.
  • Steam infusion – The hot, pressurized steam infuses fabrics and penetrates deep into fibers and materials. This helps loosen and dissolve tough dirt and stains.
  • Detergent activation – The intense heat from the steam causes detergents to activate more powerfully. Bleaches also work better at high temperatures above 150°F.
  • Dirt removal – The agitation motion combined with the steam’s cleaning effects allows more soils to get suspended so they can be flushed out.
  • Sanitization – The high heat of steam above 200°F kills over 99% of bacteria, dust mites, and allergens. This can sanitize laundry and fabrics.

As you can see, steam allows for a much more intensive cleaning process compared to regular wash cycles. The steam’s heat and pressure provide next-level stain removal power.

Key Features and Options of Steam Washers

Samsung washing machine steam washing settings

To fully capitalize on the benefits of steam, modern steam washing machines come equipped with a range of features and settings. Here are some of the top capabilities:

Steam Cycles

Steam washers have special steam-focused washing cycles, including:

  • Steam prewash – Loosens stains prior to washing
  • Steam wash – Infuses fabrics with steam during main wash
  • Steam refresh – Freshens and de-wrinkles clothes
  • Steam sanitize – High-temp steam kills germs
  • Steam allergen – Breaks down dust mites and allergens

These cycles optimize steam injection when it provides the most benefit for cleaning, sanitization, and fabric care.

Steam Level Controls

You can adjust the amount of steam used in cycles based on load size and type of fabrics. Delicates or smaller loads may need lower steam levels to prevent damage, while sturdy items can handle more intense steam.

Drum Construction

Drums are stainless steel and engineered to withstand extremely high steam temperatures up to 250°F. Some models have specialized paddle ribs to better circulate steam.

Steam Refrigeration System

A condenser or cooling reservoir rapidly cools any excess steam vapors at the end of cycles. This prevents unwanted moisture damage on fabrics.

Noise Reduction

Multi-layer sound damping, vibration absorption, and insulation result in very quiet operation, around 50 decibels. This is quieter than your average conversation.

Smart Diagnostics

Many steam washers have sensors that monitor for faults and alert you to any maintenance needs like descaling the boiler. This prevents costly breakdowns.

The Steam Washing Process In-Depth

Now let’s look at what happens step-by-step in a typical steam cycle:

  1. Load laundry – Clothes are loaded into the drum, taking care not to overstuff it. Detergent is added to the dispenser tray.
  2. Select cycle – Choose a steam cycle based on the type of fabrics being washed. Adjust steam levels as needed.
  3. Fill tub – Water flows in and fills to an optimal level based on load size and cycle chosen. More water improves steam diffusion.
  4. Heat water – The heating element activates and heats the water to convert it into superheated steam vapor, usually between 250°F – 270°F.
  5. Inject steam – The steam generator pumps pressurized steam into the drum through inlet valves for 1-10 minutes depending on the cycle.
  6. Loosen stains – The penetrating steam dissolves and loosens stains and soils from fabric fibers through heat and kinetic energy.
  7. Activate detergent – Heat causes detergents to activate more powerfully to break down oils and grease.
  8. Suspend dirt – Agitation and drum rotations suspend loosened soils so they can be flushed out.
  9. Pump rinses – Spin cycles flush out soils, residues, and any leftover detergents.
  10. Dry steam – A refrigeration system condenses excess steam vapor, preventing moisture damage on clothes.
  11. Finish cycle – The wash cycle completes once all steam has been condensed and clothes are clean.

This intense steam-infusion process allows fabrics to get exceptionally clean. The sanitizing high heat also kills germs and allergens.

The Benefits of Steam Washing Machines

There are many compelling reasons to consider purchasing a steam washing machine:

LG Steam washing machine
  • Exceptional cleaning – Steam provides unmatched stain fighting performance by dissolving and suspending soils.
  • Sanitization – Temperatures above 200°F kill 99%+ of bacteria, dust mites, and allergens for hygienic laundry.
  • Gentler cleaning – Steam allows washing in cooler water as low as 75°F. This reduces wear-and-tear on fabrics.
  • Less water usage – Steam cycles use less water compared to doing multiple warm or hot rinses to get clothes clean. An eco-friendly benefit.
  • Fewer chemicals needed – The cleaning power of steam means less detergents, bleaches and pre-treatments are required. Better for sensitive skin.
  • De-wrinkle clothes – Steam can relax wrinkles and refresh clothing right in the wash cycle. Less ironing needed.

For those wanting maximum washing performance, steam washing machines offer clear advantages over conventional models. The following table summarizes the benefits:

Enhanced Stain RemovalSteam dissolves and lifts stains better than just water.
Germ and Allergen ReductionSteam above 200°F sanitizes laundry and kills germs.
Fabric CareSteam allows washing in cooler temps as low as 75°F.
Water SavingsUses less water than multiple regular hot rinses.
Fewer DetergentsPowerful steam means less detergent needed.
De-Wrinkle ClothesSteam can relax wrinkles right in the wash.

For large families or those wanting deeper cleaning results, a steam washing machine is a smart investment.

Factors to Consider Before Buying

While steam washers offer clear benefits, they also represent a more significant investment. There are a few key factors to think about before purchasing:

  • Higher upfront cost – Steam washing machines range from ₹20,000 to ₹40,000 more than comparable models without steam features.
  • Larger capacity required – To justify the price premium, you need a larger washer – ideally 7kg capacity or greater for an average family.
  • Energy and water usage – Steam cycles do consume more electricity and water compared to regular cycles. However, energy-efficient models are available.
  • Venting requirements – Some steam washers require external venting. Top load and combination units are often ventless and easier to install.
  • Maintenance – Steam generators and valves require periodic maintenance like descaling. However, most are very reliable when properly cared for.
  • Noise – Steam washers operate very quietly, but a faint hum may be audible from the boiler heating water.
  • Cycle times – Steam cycles take longer than regular cycles, sometimes up to 2 hours for a heavy steam sanitize cycle.

While pricier upfront, a steam washer often pays for itself over time in saved detergent costs and fewer ruined clothes from aggressive cleaning. Payback period is typically under 5 years.

Steam Washers vs Normal Washers

To help decide if a steam washing machine is right for your needs, here is a quick comparison versus traditional models:

FactorStandard WasherSteam Washer
Purchase Price₹12,000 – ₹20,000₹18,000 – ₹60,000
Wash PerformanceGoodSuperior stain removal
Fabric CareStandardMore gentle, less wear
Cycles and ProgramsBasic cycles onlyAdvanced steam cycles
SanitizationMinimalKills over 99% of germs
Energy UseLowerSlightly higher
Detergent UseRegular amount neededLess detergent needed
Water UsageStandardUses less water overall
MaintenanceMinimalMore periodic maintenance
ComplexitySimpleMore complex system
Noise LevelsAverageVery low noise
Size AvailabilityAll sizesMainly larger capacities

As you can see, steam washers excel when it comes to fabric care, hygiene, and cleaning performance. The trade-offs are higher purchase costs, complexity, and maintenance needs.

For budget-focused buyers doing smaller loads, a standard washer may be the better choice. But for shoppers wanting maximum stain fighting power, germ killing, and fabric care, a steam model provides clear benefits that may warrant the higher price tag.

Who Can Benefit Most From a Steam Washer?

There are certain consumer profiles who stand to benefit the most from investing in a steam washing machine:

A woman and a little girl Benefit Most From a Steam Washer in front of a washing machine.
A woman and a little girl Benefit Most From a Steam Washer in front of a washing machine.
  • Families with children – Steam sanitization kills germs and allergens to provide healthier laundry for kids. Plus stained clothes get cleaner.
  • Those concerned about stains – Steam provides exceptional stain fighting capabilities on food, wine, grass, grease, and more.
  • People with sensitive skin/allergies – The steam sanitize cycles drastically reduce irritants left in fabrics that cause reactions.
  • Frequent entertainers – Steam can quickly refresh smelling linens in between gatherings or house guests.
  • Those who dislike ironing – The steam feature leaves clothes smoother with less wrinkling. Saves time and effort.
  • Pet owners – Steam helps remove embedded pet hair, dander, and odors better than standard cycles.
  • Athletes – Gets stinky workout clothes cleaner and fresher smelling.

If you fit into one of these profiles, the benefits of a steam washer likely justify the higher costs. For budget-focused buyers doing smaller laundry loads, a conventional top load washer may still be the better choice however.

Key Takeaways on Steam Washing Machines

Here are some final conclusions when evaluating whether a steam washing machine is right for your needs:

  • The steam generation features provide exceptional cleaning, sanitization, and fabric care compared to standard washers.
  • Cycles like steam sanitize can kill up to 99% of germs and allergens, promoting healthier laundry habits.
  • However, steam washers do cost ₹20,000 – ₹60,000 more than comparable models without steam.
  • Carefully weigh the benefits versus the higher purchase price, energy use, and maintenance requirements.
  • For larger families concerned about stains, germs, and fabric care, the added performance can justify the increased costs.
  • Those who prioritize eco-friendly benefits will also appreciate the reduced water and detergent usage of steam cycles.
  • Not everyone necessarily needs steam capabilities, so reflect on your laundry needs and priorities before deciding.

With both standard and steam washers having clear pros and cons, take time to carefully assess your family’s needs, budget, and which features matter most before choosing a washing machine. An informative salesperson can also help you decide based on your laundry habits and expectations.


So, in summary, steam washing machines provide exceptional cleaning, sanitization, and fabric care capabilities, albeit at a higher upfront cost. Carefully assess your family’s laundry needs and expectations to decide if the benefits warrant the price premium over standard washers.

Tips for Using a Steam Washer

Once you’ve purchased a steam washing machine, here are some useful tips to get the most out of it:

Use Steam Cycles for Tough Stains

Reserve steam cycles for heavily soiled items and stain removal. The intense steam is overkill for lightly worn clothes.

Adjust Steam Levels

Use high steam for sturdy white fabrics and towels. Lower steam levels for delicates like silks or gym clothes where you want gentler cleaning.

Don’t Overload the Drum

Too many clothes limits steam circulation. Follow loading recommendations in the owner’s manual.

Pretreat Grease and Oil Stains

While steam helps, heavily grease-stained clothes still benefit from pretreatment sprays or pastes.

Use Cooler Wash Temps

With steam, you can wash efficiently in cooler water. Use hot only for the dirtiest loads. This preserves fabrics.

Reduce Detergent Amount

The added cleaning of steam lets you cut back on detergent. Too much suds can limit steam effectiveness.

Clean and Descale Regularly

Follow all maintenance recommendations to keep the steam generator working efficiently.

Allow Extra Time

Steam cycles take longer than regular cycles. Make sure you allot time so clothes aren’t left sitting wet.

With some trial and error, you’ll learn which loads and stains benefit most from steam cycles in your washer. It’s better suited for heavily soiled clothes rather than everyday light laundry.

Commonly Asked Questions About Steam Washers

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about steam washing machines:

How does steam help clean clothes?

Steam penetrates fabrics deeply, loosening and dissolving stains and soils. The heat also activates detergent for more powerful cleaning.

What are the best uses for steam cycles?

Steam is great for stained clothes, heavily soiled items, musty smelling loads, and sanitizing bedding and towels. It provides intense cleaning.

How much water do steam washers use?

Steam washers use less water overall by reducing or eliminating extra rinse cycles needed on standard washers.

Do you need special detergent for a steam washer?

Regular HE (high-efficiency) detergent works great. Some people use a bit less detergent with steam cycles.

Can steam damage clothes?

Most fabrics are fine in steam cycles, but very delicate items like lace or sequins may be at risk for heat damage over time.

Do steam washers require special venting?

Some do require venting of excess steam, but many top load and combination models are condensing and ventless for easier installation.

How long is an average steam cycle?

Steam cycles average 90 minutes to 2 hours. But you get dramatically cleaner clothes as a payoff for the extra time.

Following proper operating procedures, a steam washer should provide years of stellar cleaning performance and fabric care for your family’s laundry needs. Be sure to use care with delicates and maintenance as directed.


Steam washing machines represent a significant leap forward in laundry technology and cleaning capability. The pressurized vapor infusion gets clothes dramatically cleaner while still caring gently for fabrics. Key benefits include unrivaled stain removal, sanitization of germs and allergens, reduction in detergents, and fabric care even in cooler water temps.

However, the upfront cost is higher, around a ₹20,000 – ₹60,000 premium over standard washers. Carefully weigh this extra investment against having the latest in cleaning innovation. Larger families with kid’s stained clothes and fabric care concerns tend to benefit most from purchasing a steam washer. But they can help any household with tough stains take their laundry cleaning game to the next level.

Kartik Roy
Kartik Roy

Kartik Roy is an editor at TechCase.in where he analyzes electronic home and Kitchen appliance products and appears in review videos. B.Tech electronic and Telecommunication, Kartik’s SmartPhone tips have appeared in Gadgets360, Digit, and IndiaTimes. Kartik earned B.Tech in Electronic and Telecommunications from VJTI Mumbai. While earning his master’s degree, Kartik wrote an extensive case study about Home and Kitchen appliance and discovered a newfound excitement for the Electronic industry. Kartik is passionate about helping people find the best appliance for them. Before joining the TechCase team, Kartik wrote about Windows/MacOS/Android OS Tips and Tricks. When He isn’t testing Home and Kitchen appliance like Refrigerator, Washing Machine, Dishwasher, Fan, Air conditioner, Air Purifier or writing about Copper winding motor products, Kartik can be heard singing 90’s evergreen hits of Lata Mangeskar, Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Anuradha Paudwal.

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