Laundry List: Technology lightens the load


By Judy Bilyeu, mom of 4

Laundry manufacturers are always looking for a better way to clean. Most recently, “steam” has been the buzzword of the day. Steam virtually eliminates the need to pre-treat even tough stains like grass and grease. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular appliance brands and what they’re offering in steam technology and other new features:

The Whirlpool Duet was one of the first washing machines to inject steam. With 14 different wash whirlpool.jpgcycles, this machine has a customized option for nearly every load. The steam-enhanced certified sanitary cycle” removes 99.9% of household bacteria from laundry without using bleach. As an added bonus, this washer also saves 73% water and 77% energy, compared to top-load washers manufactured before 2004.

Completing the pair, the Duet Steam dryer features two steam cycles – Enhanced Touch-Up and Quick Refresh – that infuse clothing with steam to remove odors and ‘dewrinkle’ with the touch of a button. Older steam dryer models required users to pour water into a reservoir at the beginning of each cycle. Today’s newer models have eliminated that step. Plus, a Certified Sanitize cycle eliminates 99.9% of infectious bacteria.

red-set.jpgMaytag also added steam technology to their laundry line-up. The Maytag washer is also designed to use the sanitizing power of steam to eliminate dust mites and remove allergens without the use of bleach. The “Steam Clean” feature offers multiple temperatures to help remove a variety of stains and may be used in the “Whitest Whites,” “Heavy Duty” and “Normal/Casual” cycles. A popular addition to this model is a “Clean Washer Cycle,” which uses steam to raise the temperature of the unit and makes the washer self-cleaning, flushing the interior free of dirt and other residue. The Steam Clean feature helps remove organic stains like blood and even temperature-sensitive stains like oil – all in the same cycle.

With a 7.4 cubic foot capacity, the Maytag Performance Series dryer also features the revitalizing power of steam. The “Steam Refresh cycle” removes odors and relaxes wrinkles from a few items or an entire load. During steam cycles, a small amount of water is sprayed into the dryer drum after several minutes of tumbling with heat. The dryer continues to tumble at regular heat for the duration of the cycle. The “Rapid Refresh option” is to smooth out wrinkles and reduce odors from loads consisting of one to four dry items. The “Custom Refresh cycle” (which lasts 15 – 40 minutes) uses water and heat to help smooth out wrinkles from items such as clothes packed in a suitcase or clothes wrinkled from being left in the dryer too long.

The GE Profile Colossal Capacity steam dryer operates similarly with a “Steam Refresh cycle” to reduce wrinkles, odors and rejuvenate clothes. The “reverse tumble” feature on this dryer produces more even, gentle drying. The matching GE Profile Washer (which does not offer steam) instead offers a very popular feature –  a Smart Dispense pedestal which holds up to six months of detergent and dispenses the correct amount at the correct time, for every load. (No more need to have detergent bottles sitting around taking up space!)

The H2ition Wash System intuitively senses the size of the load and adds the necessary amount of water at the perfect temperature to save energy and water. Another exciting innovation is the “CleanSpeak Communication System” which allows the washer to communicate electronically with the dryer. Based on what the washer knows about the current load it’s washing, information is relayed to the dryer which presets itself to appropriate settings for the load it’s about to dry. (No need to reset the drying instructions with each load!)

turquosewasher.pngThe Electrolux brand is also offering several new features to the market including “Wave Touch” controls, delay start, tap touch auto opening and 18 minute cycles in both the washer and dryer.

As technology continues to improve, the laundry room is becoming a more exciting, less work-intensive place to be – complete with new features, colors and energy efficiencies. Our great grandparents would be amazed at how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time.

Judy Bilyeu, a fellow mom and appliance connoisseur, is the Corporate Marketing Director for Metro Builders Supply. Her husband is the Senior Merchandise Manager at Silver Dollar City. Between them, the couple have four children – three of whom are in college, and the youngest is in high school. Judy says they only see the college kids when they come home to do laundry, so their washer and dryer run ALL THE TIME! Judy recently attended the annual International Builders Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the latest technologies in home appliances are showcased. To see the appliances featured in this article, visit the Metro Builders Supply website or their showroom in Springdale (phone 479-750-2200).