Washing machines launched since 2019 have been coming up with steam functions. What it essentially does is release a stream of steam inside the drum to boost the temperature and enhance water absorption of the clothes. This helps release evenly deeply ingrained dirt and in effect sanitize the clothes. Steam function also helps remove wrinkles in the clothes to the extent it doesn’t need to be ironed further.
Now what I mentioned above is the manufacturer’s version. Rather, their sales pitch. But does it really work that way? Is it really effective in removing stain or is it just another marketing gimmick? Let us find out.
Which brands offer washing machines with steam function?
In India, LG, Whirlpool, and Samsung offer front load washing machines with steam function.
Whirlpool claims that its steam clean technology uses a stream of steam along with gentle drum movements to reduce hard wrinkles and cleans each fibre of the cloth thoroughly for fresh, bacteria and odour free clothes. It also helps keep clothes odour free up to 6 hours post the wash cycle– something quite useful for those who put clothes for washing and hang it for drying only after coming home from a day’s work.
LG, on the other hand classifies a few of its wash programs as steam cycles. They are- Baby steam care and allergy care. LG claims that these functions help remove 99.9% germs from clothes and sterilise bacteria. They also use steam for their tub clean function which it claims helps reduce mould and mildew formation.
Samsung’s steam function is similar to Whirlpool’s technology. While steam function is found in mid level front loaders from Whirlpool and Samsung, it is found only in comparatively higher end washing machines from LG.
How Do Steam Function Affect Wash Quality?
According to a test by Consumer Report, steam function doesn’t give any substantial advantage in terms of wash quality. First of all, the steam from the in-built heater in a washing machine is not as hot as what you typically find from a kettle or a pot on stove top. Moreover, the clothes in the drum are almost completely saturated in water. So, steam doesn’t have much of an effect on improving the wash quality.
And on the negative side, it gives rise to a substantial increase in the electricity and water consumption.
So, rather than buying a washing machine just for steam function, it is better to opt for ones with better wash performance that can wash clothes in high temperature. They are much more pocket-friendly too.