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What Does the Steam Feature on a Washer Do? Do I Need It?

Do you know what steam washing is and why it’s such a useful feature to have on your washing machine?

The steam washer feature is an incredibly useful feature to have if you need to sanitize clothing or diapers. It’s also handy when you have a family member with allergies. However, do you know what steam washing is and why it’s so helpful for sanitizing clothing and removing allergens?

Key Takeaways

  • Steam washing uses a combination of steam and water to clean, sanitize clothing, and remove allergens.
  • Compared to regular washers, steam washers are more expensive but use less water and power.
  • Steam washers are useful for those with allergies, sensitive skin, or a need to sanitize items like baby diapers.
  • Using the steam cycle can help reduce wrinkles and freshen up clothing without needing a full wash.

What is the Steam Washer Feature?

The steam washer feature uses a combination of steam and water to clean fabrics. Steaming your laundry not only helps to remove wrinkles but also allows the detergent to give the clothing a better clean. Steaming will also sanitize your clothing.

The steam washer feature boosts the temperature in the washing machine causing the water to steam. The steam causes the clothing fibers to relax and absorb more water. Absorbing more water allows the clothing to release deep stains and dirt.

Detergent dissolves better in the higher temperature water. In addition, steaming the clothing kills bacteria and reduces allergens.

Steam Washer Vs Regular Washer

Here’s a table that quickly compares a steam washer versus a regular washer.

Steam Washer Regular Washer
Price More expensive Less expensive
Power Efficiency Uses less power Uses more power
Water usage Uses less water Uses more water
Maintenance Need to be careful about detergent as steam can cause too many suds which may damage the motor. Can use regular detergent
Preservation of clothing Can steam delicate clothing.

High heat can damage some fabrics and melt plastics such as buttons.

More wear and tear on clothing

Is the Steam Function on a Washer Worth It?

While there are several benefits to the steam function on a washer, you should be aware of the pros and cons of purchasing a washing machine with a steam function.


  • The steam function can reduce the amount of ironing you need to do in order to have wrinkle-free clothing.
  • It can quickly freshen clothing that’s sat in a drawer too long but doesn’t need to be washed.
  • Remove the need for fabric softener as the steam feature helps to soften and fluff clothing and towels.
  • The steam function allows you to wash more hygienically since it kills bacteria and removes allergens.


  • A washing machine with a steam function is more expensive than a regular new washing machine.
  • There’s some debate as to whether steam washers work as well as is claimed. Consumer Reports (1) indicates that steam washers do not remove dirt any better than a regular washing machine. They also found that steam washers use more electricity and water to clean clothing.

When to Consider Purchasing a Washer with the Steam Function

There are some times when you may consider it practical to purchase a washer with the steam function.

Because the steam function allows you to wash your clothing at a higher temperature, it will kill more bacteria and remove more allergens than a regular washing machine. This is useful if you have a family member with sensitive skin or allergies. It’s also handy if you have a baby in the house.

If someone in your family is involved in activities, work, or hobbies that can be dirty or unhygienic, you may want to consider purchasing a washing machine with a steam function. It will help to keep your clothing hygienic and also remove dirt and sweat.

Do you hate ironing clothing, or do you have young children in the house and no time to iron?

Then you may wish to consider purchasing a washing machine with a steam function. The steam will help to relax the clothing and reduce the number and depth of the wrinkles making it easier to iron. You won’t need to spend as much time ironing clothing with the steam function.

Another reason to purchase a washing machine with the steam function is if you’d like your clothing to be as clean and hygienic as possible.

When to Use Steam Cycle On Washer

There are several times when you should consider using the steam cycle on your washing machine.

There are times when you have clothing that needs to be freshened but it isn’t actually dirty. In this case, use the steam function to freshen your clothing instead of running a full wash cycle.

The steam function is also useful when you need to sanitize clothing, towels, or diapers. The high heat will kill any bacteria lingering in the laundry.

If you have allergens that you need to remove from bedding or clothing, you should use the steam function as it will remove the allergens.

Also, use the steam function when you have deep-seated stains that need to be removed. The steam will loosen the fibers and allow the water and detergent to penetrate and remove the dirt and stain.

Do You Use Detergent In Steam Cycle?

Yes, you can use laundry detergent in the steam cycle, especially if you’re using it with a full wash cycle. The steam cycle allows the detergent to be dissolved more easily in the water. This helps the detergent to work more efficiently to clean your clothing.

However, if you’re using only the steam cycle to freshen your clothing, you do not need to add detergent.

Other Washer Features

There are a few other features that you may wish to consider when you’re shopping for a new washing machine.

Extra Rinse Cycle

The extra rinse cycle is very useful especially if you have a family member who is allergic to detergents. This way you can make sure that all of the detergent is removed from the clothing.

Emergency Door on Front Load Washers

If you’ve ever started a load of laundry and turned around to find a sock lying on your laundry room floor, you know why this feature is useful. You can add forgotten garments or that dropped sock to your load even after it’s started.


The wifi feature will notify you when your machines have finished washing or drying your clothing. You’ll be able to move your laundry immediately instead of hoping that you notice when your washing machine has stopped.

Sensor Wash

The sensor will determine the amount of laundry you have placed in the machine and will use the correct amount of water for each load. This means you will no longer have to stand over your machine and contemplate if you have a small or large load of laundry.

Self Cleaning Washing Machine

A self-cleaning washing machine makes it easy to clean your washing machine and will require less maintenance.

Load Balancing

Load balancing helps to balance the loads in the washer so your washing machine won’t shake as much as it would have otherwise.


Can a Steam Washer Damage Clothes?

Yes, some fabrics such as velvet, velour, or fabric with a wax coating will be damaged by the steamer. Also, plastics such as buttons and appliques can be damaged by the high heat required for steam.

A quick rule of thumb is that if you believe an item could melt, then don’t steam it.

Do Steam Dryers Really Remove Wrinkles?

The steam feature on a dryer will lightly spray the clothing with moisture. This will help to relax tough wrinkles. While this will reduce the need for ironing, it won’t eliminate it.

It hasn’t been found that steam dryers are significantly better than regular dryers for removing wrinkles.

How Do I Use the Steam on My LG Washer?

You will see that some wash cycles have a red strip next to them. These cycles can be used with steam. First, choose one of these cycles using the selector knob and then press the steam button on the display.

Are Top or Front Loaders Better?

Front load washing machines are better at cleaning clothing. They also use less water and there’s less wear on the fabrics.

Top load washing machines have a few advantages themselves. They are faster at cleaning laundry and slightly more efficient in their power usage.

The better machine will depend upon your personal needs for your washing machine.

For more information on which type of washer is better for you read our article: Front Load vs Top Load washer.

Should I Get a Washer With or Without Agitator?

A washing machine with an agitator is better at getting clothing clean. Stains will be easier and faster to remove.

However, the rotation of the agitator causes wear and tear on the clothing. Also, no agitator means that you have more room for larger loads and ultimately you’ll use less water.

Does Steam Washing Shrink Clothes?

Steam washing can shrink clothes because the garments are exposed to prolonged heat. Always read the label for the best washing guides.

What Is Steam Washing Machine

A steam washing machine is a washing machine that offers the option of steam cleaning your clothing. You’ll find the steam technology in an LG washer, GE washer, and a Whirlpool machine among other brands.

The technology allows washing machines to use less energy and higher heat to sanitize, remove allergens, and reduce the number of wrinkles in your laundry.

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About the Author

Sara Dennis

Sara Dennis is a coffee-loving freelance writer, homeschool blogger, and mom of six kids. In her free time, Sara loves reading books and researching more efficient and effective ways to keep a clean house, homeschool her children, and blog better while making a home for her large family.