Front load chrome washer and dryer in a laundry room

What is a steam dryer?

Steam dryers are like regular dryers, but they offer an option that introduces steam into the dryer at ideal times. This may help reduce wrinkles, static and odor. Steam can be used on just-washed, wet loads for extra wrinkle protection or dry, lightly-worn clothes to refresh them without having to wash. Steam dryers are available in electric or gas models and can usually be used with or without the steam setting. Read on to learn more about this popular type of dryer and find out if it’s a worthwhile upgrade for your family.

How does a steam dryer work?

Like regular dryers, steam dryers use hot air to dry clothes. However, they also feature cycles and options that use steam for added benefits. Some inject steam directly into the dryer while others spray a fine mist of cold water that mixes with the heat in the dryer to create steam.
Clothes tumbling in a dryer with simulated steam Clothes tumbling in a dryer with simulated steam

What are some steam dryer benefits?

When it comes to steam dryer pros and cons, the pro list is much longer, with the only con being a slightly higher cost. Look to steam cycles and options for benefits that help improve some well-known laundry problems. 

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Fewer wrinkles
Steam penetrates fabrics to smooth out and release wrinkles. 

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Reduce static
Steam added at the end of a cycle can help cut down on cling by adding humidity to the dryer.

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Odor neutralization
Particularly useful when refreshing lightly worn clothes, moisture combined with dryer heat can help absorb odor. 

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Save time, water and energy
Skip the wash and steam refresh clothes instead to cut down on precious time, water and energy spent doing laundry. Learn other ways to get your clothes to dry faster.

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When should you use the steam cycle on your dryer?

Dryers with steam capabilities can offer multiple ways to incorporate steam into your laundry routine:

  • When you’re drying wrinkle-prone fabrics: Add the steam option to a variety of cycles for extra wrinkle and static protection.

  • When you can’t unload laundry right away: Select a wrinkle prevention cycle that tumbles clothes with steam for sometimes hours after a cycle ends.

  • Use it to quickly freshen up clothing and help reduce odors and wrinkles without washing.

Dry clothes sitting in a steam dryer Dry clothes sitting in a steam dryer

Do steam dryers shrink clothes?

Steam dryers may actually help prevent clothes from shrinking due to washing and tumble drying. If you’re steam refreshing dry clothes, shrinkage can be reduced since they haven’t been fully washed and dried. However, steam settings should only be used on washable fabrics. Learn more about how to prevent clothes from shrinking, or if hot washes are causing your shrinking.

Does a steam dryer need its own hookup?

You shouldn’t need additional plumbing for a steam dryer. You can connect your steam dryer to a water source by using a “Y” hose connector. The “Y” connector lets both your washer and dryer connect to the same water source – no extra pipes are needed. Learn more by watching this video on how to install a Whirlpool® Steam Dryer.

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