What hot in home appliances these days? That’s a steamy story, say industry watchers.
Across several categories — cookery, cleaning and personal care — steam features are the big news.
“I first started seeing them in laundry products,” says Nigel Maynard, an editor based in Hyattsville, Maryland, who covers the kitchen, bath and architecture industries. “Then I started seeing them on dishwashers. Now they’re everywhere.”
Steaming has been used by professional operations like restaurants, cleaners and spas for years, and the technology is now available for consumer home products.
Maynard posits that the appeal of steam is part of a larger trend toward outfitting the home with professional equipment.
“Interest in cooking shows is at an all-time high, and people want to channel their inner celebrity chef. Buying these steam appliances — along with (other highperformance gear) — is another way to feel like a pro in your house,” he says.
Some experts believe that steam cooking is healthier because the nutrients and flavor of proteins, vegetables and grains are sealed in.
“Not only can you prepare healthier meals,” says Wolf’s marketing manager Jeannine Washkuhn, “but a true convection steam oven will monitor and adjust steam and airflow to prepare amazing roasts, reheat leftovers perfectly, and everything in between.”
Wolf’s oven combines convection and steam. A series of recipes preprogrammed into the oven means you can just load in the prepared food and push the button; the oven assesses which modes will yield the best results at the time you want everything ready.
Wolf also has a steamer module with sous-vide capabilities that will proof bread dough and slow cook, and a multi-function countertop cooker. There’s a vacuum sealer in the appliance suite as well. Closets and laundry rooms are also getting steamed up. Lowe’s spokesperson Megan Lewis says customers find the concept of cleaning with steam instead of chemicals appealing.
CHI has a convenient valet steamer that would save time; hang your item, fill the tray with water, zip up the garment bag and turn it on. You can finish getting ready while the steamer does an outfit refresh.
There are smaller portable steamers, too, like Joy Mangano’s fabric steamer, which can be toted in a suitcase and comes in several colors. Conair’s Turbo ExtremeSteam gets Good Housekeeping’s top rating. Black & Decker’s Advanced Steamer has an extra-long cord, which is handy for drapery, and has attachments for upholstery and delicate fabrics.
In the laundry room, Samsung has a steam washer and dryer that Maynard says are performing well. Maytag and Electrolux also have versions.
Steam washers heat water to a considerably higher temperature — over 200 degrees Fahrenheit — than regular hot water settings of about 170 degrees. To blast out stains and allergens like pet dander or pollen, and to thoroughly sanitize, steam may be desirable. Steam also softens fabrics, resulting in less wrinkling at the end of the wash cycle. Steam dryers perform a similar function by reducing wrinkling. Electrolux , Frigidaire and Whirlpool have models.
Lewis says multi-purpose canister-style steam cleaners are also popular.
“Ewbank’s Steam Dynamo can be used on kitchen countertops, ovens, tiles and living room windows,” she says. “You can even use the large floor head on hard floors and carpet.”
HomeRight’s SteamMachine takes the technology to surfaces indoors and out — cleaning that barbecue grill might finally become a fun job.