Steam washer vs. regular washer

Updated February 21, 2017

Washing machines are one of the most used and abused appliances within your home. Standard washing machines use anywhere from 10 to 40 gallons of water per load in order to clean your clothing; however, steam washing machines are normally found in front-load washers, which use between 7 to 15 gallons of water per load and incorporate steam within the wash cycle to sanitise and gently clean ultra-sensitive clothing.


Regular washing machines can vary in features and washing technologies. Entry level washers that allow you to load your laundry through the top opening are known as top-load washers and feature an agitator to move your laundry around during the wash cycles. Washer units with the door on the front of the unit are known as front-load washers. Steam washers can be found in top-load and front-load designs and the amount of features and technologies can vary. Both washers clean your clothing in a similar manner--rinsing, application of detergent, agitation cycle and lastly a rinse cycle to remove the cleaning solvents from clothing fibres.


The most noticeable difference between steam washers and regular washers is how your clothing will be treated. Since steam washers are commonly found in front-load machines there is no agitator but rather your clothing is manipulated by the rotating washing drum. Even though steam washers can be found in top-load units, these are normally more advanced washers that have eliminated the need for an agitator. Steam washers use water vapour, or steam, to clean your clothing, which will also sterilise your laundry. Regular washing machines may also feature a sterilising cycle; however, they accomplish this by injecting extremely hot water into your clothing, which may damage sensitive fibres.


The price for a regular washing machine can vary according to the number of washing cycles and overall design of the machine. As of 2010, the average price for a regular washing machine ranges from £195 for a basic model up to £455 for a more advanced unit. Steam washing machines are more expensive, even for the entry-level models, due to the components needed to create the steam. Steam washers can range from £325 for an entry level machine to over £650 for more advanced options.


Standard designs for washing machines involve a turn-knob control panel design located on the backsplash of the appliance. Regular washing machines commonly feature this design; however, the style of the control panel will vary according to the model as well as number of cycles/features the washer contains. Steam washers are commonly found in front-load designs, which place the control panel on the front of the machine directly above the swing-out door.


While both regular and steam washers can adequately clean your laundry, steam washers normally feature a more advanced cleaning platform. The price and design of both washers can vary according to the specific model you choose; however, if you are looking for a washer that will gently cleanse your clothing while giving you the option to dry clean and sanitise, you will want to purchase a steam washer.

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About the Author

Jonathan McLelland has been a professional writer since 2005. He has worked as a story writer and editor for the international sitcom, “Completing Kaden,” as well as a proposal writer for various production companies. McLelland studied communication and theater at St. Louis Community College.