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Steam is a powerful force that has been harnessed to perform a variety of tasks ranging from running powerful locomotives and giant turbines in large-scale power plants to cooking vegetables and smoothing the wrinkles out of clothing. Since steam is no stranger to washrooms, it seems logical that it should be harnessed to clean and dry clothing with greater efficiency than traditional soak-and-agitate washing machines. Steam washers and dryers are becoming increasingly popular because of their efficacy and energy savings, which is an important factor as we all try to go green.

Steam cleaning clothes has its benefits. Because steam is the next step up from hot water, it can quickly penetrate fabrics to break up stains and sanitize clothing with its high temperatures. Since it works effectively to remove dirt from fabrics without wearing them out in the way that rubbing them together in water does, using steam to clean your clothes will get them cleaner and help them last longer.

They use water in gaseous form to get clothes cleaner with less wear and tear. Plus, steam washers use less water and less energy and are clearly a much more environmentally conscious alternative to traditional washing machines.

Advantages that steam can offer when applied in three different stages of a washing machine cycle:

• Pre-wash phase: While the water loads into the wash tub, the steam works with the water to help soak the fabrics more thoroughly.

• During the washing phase: If added while the detergent is mixed with the water, the steam increases the temperature of the wash tub to improve the cleaning power, which also helps to activate the detergent. It does this by dissolving the detergent more effectively, to get the most out of it.

• Post-wash phase: Steam added after washing lends more high temperatures to the tub to sterilize the clothes. It also softens the clothes to remove hard wrinkles that formed while the clothes tossed in the tub.

When some fabrics get wet and hot, their very properties change. Although this state allows them to be thoroughly cleaned, it also means they may become hard and wrinkle. The penetrating steam in post-wash phase counteracts this hardening.

Washing machines can apply steam in different ways. Some heat the water in the tub directly to create steam, while other models utilize a steam generator that heats up water in a separate compartment. After converting the water to steam, the steam generator sends the steam through a tube to a nozzle. The nozzle subsequently releases pure steam into the tub. Which method works best may depend on the model and your needs. If your clothes have tough stains, perhaps you should read the fine print to find which model gets the hottest.

Often, steam washing machines have options to add steam to normal cycles, in addition to the special cycles that already incorporate steam. But the user isn’t tied to steam washing, which is good given that steam lengthens the cycle.

Wrinkle-free drying

Steam dryers, on the other hand, are a bit more of a stretch. How can water pushed past the boiling point and driven into the air as a gas dry anything? Traditional dryers use heated air to remove moisture from clothing, sort of like a super speed-up version of line drying laundry in the hot sun. Steam dryers use super-heated, so-called dry steam – which consists of steam that is so hot that there are no longer any water droplets suspended in the mist – to dry clothes with high temperatures that evaporate the water within the fabric as well.

Additionally, these steam washers are akin to steam irons in that they effectively remove wrinkles from clothing as it dries, so your clothes come out clean, sanitized, odour-free and devoid of wrinkles – in short, like new. With most major appliance companies now offering steam washer and dryer models, the latest technology is easily available. This innovative technology of efficient steam washers and dryers can save time, money and energy – all while extending the life of clothes and lowering electricity bill.


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