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How Do Steam Dryers Work?

Conventional clothes dryers apply heat to laundry to evaporate moisture. Using steam, the vapor caused from heating water, may seem like a strange addition to the process; however, used in combination with heat, steam produces cleaner, wrinkle-free laundry. Steam dryers have been used by dry-cleaning firms for many years, and have become increasingly available as domestic appliances.

Basics

Steam drying operates in tandem with conventional heat drying.

An electrical element in the dryer heats water until it turns into a vapor. The dryer then pumps this steam into the dryer chamber holding the clothes, while the clothes dry by conventional heat. The steam is either administered as a jet of pure steam or as a fine mist. The steam penetrates clothes more deeply than the heat in conventional dryers.

Quick Fix

If you're in a hurry, choose steam drying. A steam dryer is used to perform a "mini" wash on an item of clothing for those in a hurry. A quick 20-minute cycle in a steam dryer, independent of the conventional drying cycle, will not only help eliminate wrinkles, it will also minimize odors. Thus, the jacket you need for today’s presentation that the cat managed to sleep on last night can be freshened up in the morning, just in time for work.

Benefits

The steam has the effect of loosening or relaxing the fibers in the garments, making them less wrinkled. Thus, steam dryers are convenient if you don't have time for a lot of ironing or if you can’t be around at the end of the drying cycle to hang up the laundry. The elimination of wrinkles in clothes by the steam dryer means that most garments are ready to wear straight from the dryer. Because the steam is hot, it kills germs and bacteria, serving to sanitize and deodorize the clothes as well. Steam dryers also have the same features as conventional dryers -- including a variety of temperature and cycle settings, and energy-efficient cycles. They can be either gas or electric powered.

Main Disadvantage

The main disadvantage of steam dryers over conventional dryers is the cost. They're usually more expensive. The additional steaming components push the price up. Steam dryers were originally designed for industrial cleaning services, but as they penetrate the domestic market more and more, the price should come down.

About the Author

Dirk Huds has been a writer/editor for over six years. He has worked for bookshops and publishers in an editorial capacity and written book reviews for a variety of publications. He is currently studying for his master's degree.

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