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Everything You Need to Know about Steam Cleaning

Does steaming clothes clean them?

Steam is a one-of-a-kind sanitizer that is both gentle and penetrating at the same time. Steam Cleaning your special garments is a great way to save. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Steam Cleaning?

Steam Cleaning involves the use of steam for cleaning. Steam Cleaning can happen one of two ways:

  • In a Washing Machine: Sometimes this is in your washing machine. When it comes to laundry, a washing machine incorporates steam into the cycle to rid clothing of stains or odors. When used without detergents or other artificial products, steam cleaning is a very eco-friendly way of cleaning.
  • With a Garment Steamer: A typical large or medium steamer consists of a water tank, heating element and long metal rod, as well as a rubber hose with a brush attached to remove hair and lint. The water is added to the tank and heated until it boils and becomes vapor. You apply the steam to a garment via the rubber hose, using soft, sweeping motions. Garments can be hung on the metal rod or on a regular clothes hanger.

Steam Cleaning in a Washing Machine

A garment steamer will work considerably better than your washing machine’s steam cycle. When compared to a garment steamer, steam cleaning in a washing machine isn’t particularly effective. At that point, you might as well wash the clothes – not just steam them.

Here are some of the consideration for steam cycles on washing machines:

  • Added appliance cost: Machines that offer steam cleaning options usually also include a variety of other features that may or may not be of any value to you. A steam cleaning option will add at least $200 to the cost of your washing machine, and possibly much more.
  • Higher water use: Most machines use considerably more water when steam is added to the wash cycles. This actual finding runs contrary to what is proclaimed by some appliance manufacturers.
  • Longer wash cycles: The time it takes to run a load of laundry can be as much as twice as the same load run without steam.
  • More energy use: The energy required to heat water into steam can be as much as 600 percent higher than cleaning without the steam feature.
  • Works only with “hot” water cycle: Permanent press clothing made from synthetic fibers may not be compatible with the high temperatures generated by a washing machine running on the steam cycle.
  • Temperature control: The temperatures generated in the tub by the steam option are considerably lower than those obtained when you boil water on a stove, and because the clothes are already soaked or submerged in water, there is no guarantee that the steam mist added will sterilize any better than washing in hot water alone and drying at a high temperature.

Steam Cleaning with a Garment Steamer

Follow these steam cleaning steps from Laundress:

  1. First, hang up the clothing, or lay across an ironing board. 
  2. Hold the steam head to hover over the fabric.
  3. Drag the steamer over the fabric. It’s ok if you touch the steam head briefly to the fabric. This will not damage the item, though it’s important not to leave the steam head touching the fabric for an extended period of time on delicate fabrics like silk or wool.
  4. Steam the item, top to bottom. Systematically move from shoulder to the end of each sleeve or from waistband to each pant cuff.
  5. If the item has lining, steam the lining first. Then steam the outside of the item.
  6. Finish by hanging the clothes or linens to dry before replacing them in the closet or on the bed.

Does Steam Cleaning Clean Clothes?

Yes, most of the time…

Steam will disinfect and deodorize your garments. These are two parts of a cleaning process. The third, is stain removal. Steam cleaning is not great for stain removal. Stain removal requires more agitation. You can try rubbing the stains while steam cleaning to better remove stains. However, we recommend any stain garments be washed in a traditional wash cycle or dry cleaned – depending on the care tags.

Steam Cleaning Facts

  • Most residential steamers work at at lower temperatures between 140 – 180 degrees that are safe for residential, home use. However, when shopping, it is important to avoid temperatures over 200 degrees. Higher temperatures come with higher risk of damage.
  • Typical steam cleaners can use anywhere from 1000 to 1800 watts which is about 5x the energy required to run other household tools. The price can add up.

Best Steam Cleaner on Amazon

The Jiffy Steam Cleaner is a residential laundry steamer that gets the approval of a professional laundry service. There are cheaper options out there – one’s we would never use nor recommend. The Jiffy Steamer is built to last, temperature controlled, and has a large enough water container to operate for longer periods of time. Due to how long water takes to heat up, a larger tank really helps improve the 

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