Do I want a washer and dryer with steam, or not?
December 4, 2019 10:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm choosing a washer and dryer for the first time. I need to order by tomorrow to take advantage of Black Friday sales. I've decided on LG, but am debating between the basic model (on sale for $600 here, no steam), vs one steam for $700 on sale (here). The matching dryers also differ in price by $100, with the steam one being pricier. Is the steam useful for anything? I do have allergies, and my husband has dress shirts for which any actual reduction in necessary ironing would justify a $200 price difference. Thanks!
posted by ClaireBear to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"Features like Wi-Fi, NFC, touchscreens, steam generators, and more cycles than you can count on two hands aren’t worth it." - The Best Dryers
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:28 AM on December 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

I have a dryer that does steam, I use it very rarely. It works OK but not great on dress shirts, for many items it ends up leaving them with weird wet spots that render the garment unwearable.
posted by GuyZero at 10:40 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

We had a LG dryer with steam and it just got clothes wet which is the opposite of what dyeres are supposed to do. We had a warranty tech come out cause I thought it was broken and he was like "oh yeah you really can't expect that to work."
posted by Uncle at 10:42 AM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I wouldn’t. But if you’re keen to keep ironing to a minimum, look for a big volume dryer that’ll keep tossing shirts around on cool to minimise wrinkles. Our stupid big top loader has that and ironing time has dropped off considerably.
posted by lemon_icing at 10:45 AM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Haha. I have a 100% different result. We have a steam washer and steam dryer. For stuff like sports equipment and smelly beach towels the steam sanitize thing in the washer does wonders. For the dryer I toss a wrinkled shirt or pants in, hit steam refresh and 12 minutes later it's fresh smelling and wrinkle free like magic. Extra point of info: if I had to pick only one I'd do the steam dryer and not washer.
posted by chasles at 10:46 AM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

i guess it would be useful to tell you i have a GE front loading.... i picked randomly from 15 seemingly identical models. it felt pretty solid, controls felt like they would stand up to abuse, and it had a big old "made in america with american steel" sticker on it, so i fell for it.

not what you asked, but i have had insanely good luck using as well as a physical sears outlet if there is one near you.
posted by chasles at 10:53 AM on December 4, 2019

I dry most laundry outside, or in the furnace room on a rack. For stuff that would benefit form steam/ de-wrinkling, I put water on a washcloth and put it in the dryer.

My front-loading washer doesn't have a lint trap and that's a glaring omission.
posted by theora55 at 10:54 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have a steam washer and dryer, both from Samsung. I picked them because they were what my local store had in stock, and they were on a sale that made them only $50 more than the non-steam models. I've been happy with the way the dryer can de-wrinkle a garment.

I suspect that, for both the washer and dryer, it's a feature most people use rarely enough that it doesn't seem critical, but if they ever switched back to a non-steam model, they'd end up annoyed every time they'd like to steam something.

If $200 doesn't break the bank and steam sounds appealing to you and your husband, I'd go for it. But if you decide to save the money, I also don't think you'll regret it terribly.
posted by katieinshoes at 11:05 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Wirecutter might say that Wi-Fi isn't worth it for a washer/dryer, but I have to say, getting a notification via email or text as I get from our LG washer/dryer that my load is done is worth *far more* in terms of quality of life than any other feature any other washer/dryer combo might have. That feature has saved me hour after hour of my personal time.
posted by eschatfische at 11:46 AM on December 4, 2019 [8 favorites]

We just got done steam-sanitizing all my daughter's blankets and stuffed animals in our dryer after a bout with the flu. If you have any little disease vectors of your own, or are planning to, I think it's a worthwhile feature.
posted by stevis23 at 11:51 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I hate ironing and have a steam washer, which I use 1-2 times a week. It’s great for dewrinkling and relaxing nicer t-shirts and knits, casual wovens like flannel, and wrinkle-resistant clothing that’s gotten just a little wrinkled, sheets that have been folded in the cupboard for a while - basically, all the things which don’t seem quite worth the fuss of ironing but look better if you do. It doesn’t eliminate ironing, though - you’ll probably still have to iron the dress shirts, though it may go quicker if you run them through the steam function once or twice beforehand while you do other things.
posted by bettafish at 12:02 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

We occasionally use a short steam cycle (15 minutes) to get wrinkles out of clothing. It works pretty well. It's not as good as ironing, but it's much simpler. Our dryer is a Frigidaire.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 12:06 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

That feature has saved me hour after hour of my personal time.

I wish mine (new GE with steam, which I have used just a few times in 6 months) had wifi alerts, since the 'sensor' drying time is extremely variable, the alarm is quiet and difficult to adjust the volume, and the countdown timer on the GE can display '1 minute' for more than 30 minutes.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:23 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have used the steam feature of my dryer to de wrinkle things that I bought wrinkled and don't want to wash (i.e., cheap curtains), but never really find it necessary to iron things like dress shirts as long as they are dried and removed from dryer promptly.

tl;dr have found the steamer in dryer to be useful, but not for dress shirts.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 12:36 PM on December 4, 2019

my husband has dress shirts for which any actual reduction in necessary ironing would justify a $200 price difference.

If this is your goal, a steam cycle on your washer and dryer will get your less bang for your $200 than a dedicated steam iron system. I don't know what the US brands are, but I've used this Tefal one and it's brilliant.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:01 PM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

My dryer has a steam option and everything is hooked up we have never used it even though we do a lot of laundry (too much really).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:13 PM on December 4, 2019

I love my steam dryer for the single fact that I can toss in wrinkles clothes and pull them out in a few minutes and wear them without having to iron. Worth $100 extra dollars? Absolutely.
posted by summerstorm at 1:58 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you're going to be stacking the washer and dryer in a closet, I can confirm that attaching the additional water hose to the dryer for the steam function is punishingly difficult. If you've got plenty of room to work with and aren't stacking the machines, it's not so bad.
posted by asperity at 2:23 PM on December 4, 2019

I have a "steam" dryer. It requires a water hook-up, and it somehow squirts a little water onto the clothes. That water is supposed to heat up and create steam. It does reduce wrinkles, but also leaves wet spots here and there one the clothes. I get better results by tossing a damp washcloth into the dryer with the dry clothing and running it on low for 10 minutes.
posted by wryly at 5:19 PM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

I get better results by tossing a damp washcloth into the dryer with the dry clothing and running it on low for 10 minutes

posted by apparently at 5:29 PM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was a longtime "damp rag in the dryer" devotee, but I got an LG steam dryer this year, and it's great. My husband's dress shirts still often need ironing, but it's super for knitwear thats looking a bit rumpled from being worn from sitting in the drawer for a while and for freshening up loads of laundry that sat in the dryer for cough cough a day or two after the cycle finished cough before they get folded.
posted by mostlymartha at 8:09 PM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

The two keys to dryers, IMHO, are a larger size than the washer, and non-iron clothing. The washer will, eventually, get a large load of clothes clean even if somewhat overstuffed. But a dryer will not properly dry that load unless it is bigger than the washer, and the bigger the drum the less the wrinkles. I pay a bit more for Brooks Brothers (at the outlet, they have frequent sales if you buy 3) and they come out of the dryer truly wrinkle-free when hung up warm. This works even in tiny high-spin European washer/dryers; people have asked me, "What, are you ironing your shirts on vacation?" They look good for years.
posted by wnissen at 8:34 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

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