Home appliance manufacturer LG explains that a steam washer is different from a regular washer in that it is more expensive, uses less water and is gentler on delicate fabrics. These front-loading machines lack the fabric-damaging agitators found in conventional top-loading appliances. Steam washers also sterilize clothing, a feature lacking on many standard washers. Steam sterilization kills viruses and bacteria without traumatizing clothing fibers with jets of hot, pressurized water.
Steam washers use up to 15 gallons of water per cycle, which is less than half the water used in a regular washing machine. LG reveals that steam machines have many advanced settings that give users precise control over the entire washing process. For example, some garments require steam-only treatment, while others benefit from the combination of steam and water.
Another important difference between regular and steam washing machines is the "refresh" option. A piece of worn clothing placed in a steam washer for roughly 20 minutes emerges clean, dry and ready to wear. This popular feature breathes new life into clothes on long, hectic days.
Regular washing machines require detergents that often contain harsh, toxic chemicals. Steam washers need very little detergent, and it is entirely unnecessary on the steam-only setting. HouseLogic.com contributor Jan Soults Walker explains that the extreme heat kills microscopic pathogens and dislodges dirt. It is also effective against mold, allergens and pet dander.