Steam dryers have become a standard fixture in the home appliance market. Among many other claims, manufacturers promote these dryers for their ability to prevent wrinkles and even kill germs.
But with the price difference, are they really worth it? What are the pros and cons of steam dryers, especially when you compare them to conventional models that have been available for much longer?
Steam dryers are similar to conventional dryers, with the addition of steam used in the drying cycle. That steam might be generated directly or by spraying mists of water that become steam when combining with the ongoing heating. Steam dryers remove odours, wrinkles, germs and potentially save energy. Still, steam dryer units cost more upfront and don’t remove enough wrinkles to eliminate the need to iron clothes later.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into this unique category of dryers to see what they have to offer. We’ll start with a brief refresher about how steam dryers function before exploring the benefits and drawbacks that they bring into our homes.
Steam Dryers 101: What Are They And What Do They Do?
For the most part, steam dryers operate in just the same way as conventional dryers. Wet laundry spins around in a drum as hot air is forced through the appliance, gradually removing moisture and resulting in dried and fresh-smelling clothes.
Steam dryers have one additional feature, which is introducing steam as part of the drying cycle. Some dryer models do this by producing steam inside the drum.
Others do it only by spraying a mist of water inside, which turns into steam thanks to the heat that’s already flowing through the dryer.
Manufacturers promote steam dryers as being able to reduce odors, remove wrinkles, and also sanitize clothes by killing off any germs and bacteria .
Still, just like any other type of home appliance, steam dryers come with their fair share of pros and cons.
Let’s take a look at what those pros and cons are.
What Are The Benefits Of Steam Dryers?
In short the benefits of a steam dryer are that it:
- Removes Odors
- Eliminates Wrinkles
- Sanitizes Laundry
- Generates Savings
- Reduces Need for Dry Cleaning
1. Removes Odors
One of the most commonly claimed benefits of steam dryers is that it remove odors more effectively from clothes.
That happens because the steam penetrates through the fabrics more efficiently to remove odors while also killing off any germs or bacteria that produce smells.
As such, not only are they useful for freshly laundered clothes. Besides those, steam dryers are also helpful for freshening up clothes that have yet to be rewashed.
2. Eliminates Wrinkles
Steam dryers are also known for eliminating wrinkles from clothes, something that standard dryers can’t do very effectively. With no wrinkles at the end of the steam drying cycle, you won’t have to waste any time or energy ironing those clothes again later on.
To get a better understanding of how this happens, think about steam irons. The heat and steam delivered by the iron through the clothing items will help smoothen the fabric and get rid of any wrinkles.
Much in the same way, the steam that’s generated inside a steam dryer will also have the same effect on your laundry. For that to happen effectively, however, the drum needs to be at least ¼ empty to ensure that each clothing item is exposed to a sufficient amount of steam as they tumble around.
3. Sanitizes Laundry
By adding steam into the drying cycle that already involves high heat levels, steam dryers are also very effective at sanitizing laundry. It means that the steam helps to kill off any germs, bacteria, and other organisms in the clothes loaded into the dryer.
That’s especially useful in settings where sanitized fabrics are essential, such as a household with young children or facilities that provide medical services.
4. Generates Savings
Indirectly, steam dryers also help to promote savings by reducing the use of water and energy. In addition, thanks to the steam dryer’s ability to eliminate wrinkles and odors, there is no longer a need for ironing or even re-washing for exceptionally dirty or smelly clothes.
Instead, whatever wrinkles or odors those clothes have will be removed by the machine as it tumble-dries and steams those items.
5. Reduced Need for Dry Cleaning
A steam dryer is not a replacement for dry cleaning. However, it can help keep ‘dry clean only’ items fresh and odor-free from time to time, thereby reducing the need for dry cleaning. As a result, you’ll spend less on dry-cleaning in the long run.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Steam Dryers?
In short, the drawbacks of using a steam dryer is:
- Higher Upfront Cost
- Not Always 100% Effective
- Additional Water Line Might Be Necessary
- Some Models Require Cool-Down After Each Cycle
1. Higher Upfront Cost
As mentioned earlier, steam dryers are essentially regular ones with additional steam-producing functions. That translates to a higher upfront cost for these machines, making them more expensive than regular dryers. However, for some households, the additional cost might not be worth the benefits.
2. Not Always 100% Effective
Manufacturers often promote their steam dryer models as being able to altogether remove wrinkles in clothes. But, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. While the addition of steam does indeed remove most wrinkles, the clothes will probably still require ironing afterwards.
While a few minor wrinkles might be acceptable on casual clothing like t-shirts and jeans, that might not be the case with formal clothing like dress shirts and suits.
3. Additional Water Line Might Be Necessary
Standard dryers typically need only two types of connections: a power supply and venting, assuming it’s a vent-type dryer.
On the other hand, a steam dryer will require an additional water line to be set up.
Suppose the steam dryer is placed in your laundry room. If that’s the case, then setting up the water line shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. All that’s needed is to connect the existing water supply connected to your washer and attach a line to the steam dryer.
However, that can be a hassle if your dryer is located somewhere without an existing water supply. If that’s the case, then some additional plumbing might be required.
Alternatively, you could search for models that rely on a water reservoir instead of a water inlet. While that might remove the need for additional setup, it does mean that you’ll need to refill the water reservoir the more often you use the steam dryer.
4. Some Models Require Cool-Down After Each Cycle
Standard dryers are already hot enough, but steam dryers tend to operate at even higher temperatures that some brands refer to as ‘extreme heat’. As a result, many models require a cool-down period after one drying cycle is completed.
That can be pretty frustrating if you’re planning on drying several loads of clothes back to back.
Of course, you can shop around to find models that do not require that cooling-off period. However, those might be slightly more expensive than more mid-range or entry-level steam dryers.
Should You Get A Steam Dryer?
Choosing a steam dryer instead of a conventional one will depend on your personal situation. However, based on the pros and cons listed above, you should also consider the following:
- Budget: A steam dryer typically costs more than a conventional model, and that can have a significant impact on your household budget. Like most households, your money is also required for a long list of other things besides the dryer. So, you’ll need to do some careful budgeting to figure out if the benefits are worth the extra cost for you.
- Sanitisation Needs: Steam dryers help sanitise laundry items after they’ve been washed. That might be useful in a household with young children, but if yours isn’t one of them, then do you really need it? Remember: clothes come out pretty clean after going through the washer and then through a standard dryer.
Plus, the chances are high that the detergent you use in your washer already has antibacterial properties.
- Clothing Habits: Are you the kind of person who prefers wearing clothes at least a few times before throwing them in the wash? Well, then a steam dryer might be helpful. You can use a steam dryer to refresh clothing items and remove any smells so that you can wear them for much longer before sending them for another wash.
- Additional Setup: Unlike conventional units that only need a power supply and venting, steam dryers require water. That will translate to added work on your part. Depending on the model, you’ll either need to set up an additional water line to the steam dryer, or you’ll need to constantly fill water into its reservoir to run a steam drying cycle.
Bottom line, if money isn’t an issue and you’d like to be extra careful when it comes to germs and bacteria in laundry, then a steam dryer could be the ideal solution for your household. Plus, it’ll also allow you to maximize the use of your clothing items and cut down the number of laundry loads that you do.
However, if your need to sanitize and steam clothes isn’t exceptionally high, then conventional steamers (especially newer models) will still do a fantastic job as well.