Washing machines operate differently during the steam cycle depending on the brand. Some brands heat the water directly in the tub, which makes steam. Other brands use a steam generator and then send the steam through a nozzle into the tub.
In equipped washing machines, steam is used in three different cycles: pre-wash, wash and post-wash. During the pre-wash phase, as the water fills the tub of the washer, steam works to help soak the fabric as thoroughly as possible.
When the steam is added during the wash cycle, the steam can help to increase the temperature of the tub. This helps to improve the cleaning power and activates the detergent. This occurs because the steam dissolves the detergent more effectively than water alone, and users get the most cleaning power out of it.
When steam is added during the post-wash cycle, the high temperatures in the tub sterilize the clothing. The steam also helps to soften the clothes, and it removes the large wrinkles and folds that inevitably form during the wash cycle.
Though steam cleaning in washing machines offers benefits to the user, these cycles take much longer than normal cycles. However, they are also more efficient to run, use less water and even help to eliminate allergens.