The biggest and most obvious difference between a regular dishwasher and a steam dishwasher is the steam. All dishwashers produce some amount of steam during the drying cycle, according to information released by Maytag, because the heating elements work to evaporate the water left on the dishes. A steam dishwasher produces steam during the cleaning and rinsing cycles of the appliance and not just at the end. Some models allow you to only add steam cleaning when dishes are very dirty, while others use steam for all cleaning modes.
Steam dishwashers do a better job of removing stuck-on and dried food particles than regular dishwashers in some cases. However, a steam cycle isn't necessarily going to remove baked-on pasta sauce or burnt noodles. The heat of steam works to melt the oils and waxes in food residue, according to the LG Knowledge Base. Waxy foods like chocolate and residue with high fat or oil content falls off easier in a steam dishwasher than a regular hot water model.
Harder to Repair
When your regular dishwasher breaks, a qualified appliance repairman is well-versed in how to fix it. The same technician may have never seen the steam technology used in new steam dishwashers before, and he may be at a loss on how to repair it warns. The companies that manufacture these dishwashers do offer training on their products and can connect you with a suitably educated technician, but he may charge more for his extra training.
Dishwashers that add steam cycles to the beginning of the washing process loosen food particles, but they also add 20 or more minutes to the overall process. Steam dishwashers tend to take an average of 45 minutes longer to wash the same load of dishes as a standard dishwasher. The melting action of steam takes a little longer to remove food than a blast of hot water and detergent.