Dishwashers with a steam cycle are available with most manufacturers nowadays. Did you wonder what the benefits are of having a steam cycle in your dishwasher?
Aside from its ability to produce electricity, steam also is a powerful cleaning tool. If you've ever steam-cleaned your carpets, you know how powerful it can be combined with vacuuming. Using the same principles, steam dishwashers use high-pressure, high-temperature steam to help separate food from dishes, cups and flatware. The pressure of a gas indicates how much force it exerts on surfaces. The tighter gas molecules are packed together or the hotter they are, the harder they hit surfaces.
In dishwashers, the high pressure and temperature of steam loosen the strong bonds between food and your dishes. In this way, steam can break down the baked-on or dried-on foods that would take a lot of scrubbing with good old-fashioned soap and water. In essence, the food absorbs the steam, which in turn rehydrates it so that it releases its death grip on the dish. After breaking the waste down, a good rinse washes it all away. Perhaps the most important benefit, though, is that the extremely high temperatures of the steam also kill bacteria and sanitize the dishes.
To understand why steam is so effective, let's take a look at some of its special properties:
Steam can contain a lot of heat: Have you ever hungrily peeled off the cover of food that's been heated in the microwave, only to be burned by the steam that rushes out? If you have, you know that steam can get very hot -- even hotter than water. At normal atmospheric pressures, water can only get as hot as about 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). At that point, it turns to steam. The steam, in turn, can carry a lot of heat and, if pressurized, can continue to heat up, which enables it to sanitize objects.
Steam expands to a bigger volume than water: As water heats up and turns to steam, it can expand and take up more space than the water did. This fact means that a little bit of water can create a lot of steam -- and conduct a lot of cleaning work. In the end, you've used less water to get the same (or possibly better) work done.
Steam is easily accessible: Steam cleaning doesn't require harmful or expensive cleaning chemicals or detergent to work. Because you find "water, water everywhere," you can find the potential for steam everywhere. Just heat water to a high enough temperature and you'll create steam.