Can I Use Tap Water in My Steamer?

can i use tap water in my steamer

Steamers are appealing for chemical free cleaning using only water. You might be asking yourself, can I use tap water in my steamer? You can, but you shouldn’t. Here’s why.

Tap water should be used with caution in steamers. Distilled water is the best choice. The minerals in tap water cause build up inside your steamer, known as calcification. Over time, this causes your steamer to spit water, produce less steam, or no steam at all.

These mineral deposits may also wear down and corrode the metal inside your steamer over time. Using tap water will shorten the life of your steamer.

Let’s explore the different types of steamers and how they may be affected by tap water.

Can I Use Tap Water in My Face Steamer?

tap water in my face steamer
Distilled water is the best choice for facial steamers

You shouldn’t use tap water in your face steamer. Distilled water is the purest form of water and the best choice for face steamers.

Distilled water won’t clog any internal workings of your steamer. As distilled water is created from steam, all of the minerals and impurities have been removed, making it the healthiest water possible for use in facials.

Can I Use Tap Water in My Shark Steam Mop?

tap water in shark steam mop
Shark recommends using distilled water rather than tap water

Shark Clean recommend using distilled water in their steam mops. While it is much easier to simply use tap water, it may shorten the life of your steam mop.

Compared to most steam cleaners, steam mops have separate water tanks. It is difficult to descale a steam mop, so if it does break down from using tap water, you may need to replace it with a new one, or pay to have it professionally serviced.

Distilled or demineralized water is probably cheaper in the long run.

Can I Use Tap Water in My Steam Cleaner?

tap water dupray steam cleaner
A Dupray steam cleaner can be used with tap water as long as you regularly descale the boiler tank

Some steam cleaner manufacturers advise you can use tap water in your steam cleaner. Such brands are Dupray and McCulloch (among others).

If you are in a hard water area, it is recommended to use distilled water, or at least 50% distilled water and 50% tap water.

It is best to refer to your instruction manual for your steam cleaner. Remember, if you do choose to use tap water in your steam cleaner, you will need to regularly descale the boiler tank.

This is usually done by using a vinegar and water mix to clean and soak the boiler and remove any mineral build up.

Can I Use Tap Water in My Clothes Steamer?

Distilled water should be used in most clothes steamers. You may find that some newer model garment steamers have built in anti-calcification filters that allow you to use tap water.

Most clothing steamers don’t have this however. If you are unsure, refer to your user manual, or err on the side of caution and use distilled or demineralized water instead.

What is the Best Water for Steamers?

Distilled water is the number one choice for use in most clothes steamers, steam cleaners, humidifiers, and facial steaming.

If you cannot get distilled water, use demineralized water, or take a look at my list of subsitutes here.

Where to Buy Distilled Water

Distilled water is available online via Amazon, Walmart and other leading department stores.

The link below is the cheapest distilled water I could find:

Great Value Distilled Water, 1 Gallon
  • Steam distilled water - 1 gallon bottle
  • Can be a little hard to pour with the handle design
  • Use in any steam generating device including steam mops, steam cleaners and humidifiers as well as cpap machines

Buy at Walmart
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

A note on parent’s choice distilled water (same price as above at Walmart at the time of writing). This water is designed for formula feeding babies and is distilled water with added minerals (magnesium and potassium).

This is great for babies, but not for your steam cleaner – you want 100% distilled water with no added minerals, so avoid buying this brand.

FAQ’s About What Water is Okay to Use in a Steamer

tap water in steamer

Can I use Filtered Water in my Steamer?

Filtered water has been through a process to remove bacteria, impurities, chemicals and some minerals, but not all. It does not go through the same process as purified distilled water and as such, filtered water is not the best choice for your steamer. If you are in hard water area, using filtered water over regular tap water is a better choice, but not as good as distilled water.

Can I Use Bottled Water in My Steamer?

Bottled water can have different pH levels, added vitamins and minerals, or be close to distilled water. Before you use bottled water in your steamer, read the ingredients. Calcium and Magnesium are the main minerals that cause build up in steamers.

Can I Use Spring Water in My Steamer?

Spring water comes from underground, below Earth’s water table. Spring water still contains the natural minerals found in tap water which can cause clogging of your steamer.

Can You Use RO water in a Steamer?

RO (short for reverse osmosis) should not be used long term in steam generating devices. It is not as pure as distilled water. RO water can contain scale-forming minerals leading to build-up in your steamer. If you have no other choice, use reverse osmosis water temporarily, and descale your steamer regularly.

Can You Use Zero Water in a Steamer?

Zero water has advised their filtration process takes the ions and minerals out of the water, producing the same quality of water as distilled water. You can use zero water in steamer.

What is the Difference Between Hard Water and Soft Water?

The hardness and softness of regular tap water is determined by the mineral content of magnesium and calcium in the water. Very hard water has over 180 parts per million, compared to soft water which has 17 parts per million or less.

You can get your water tested to determine the hardness or softness.

As you can imagine, if you are in a hard water area and use this water in your steamer, the calcium and magnesium will build up in your steamer very quickly. You will most likely find it stops working in a short amount of time.

Can you make Distilled Water yourself?

You can make your own distilled water at home. There are many counter top machines available or you can follow my tutorial to distill water at home (includes a video), by boiling it on the stove and collecting the condensed steam.

Grab Your Distilled Water and Let’s Get Steaming

We hope this article has helped answer if you can use tap water in your steamer, and why you should not.

Remember, if you choose not to use distilled water in your water tank for steam cleaning, facial steaming, in your steam iron or clothes steamer, you will need to regularly descale it using a white vinegar solution.

This is simple to do, and instructions can be found in my tutorial here. Using distilled water in the first place however, avoids the need for extra cleaning and descaling of your steamer.

It may be a little extra cost along the way, but will save you money in the long run.

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    1. Thanks for the article. I have been looking for one that talks about using zero water. If I understand it, one uses distilled water to get rid of the minerals and chemicals breaking down the steamer. By that credit, why not zero water? Perhaps expense but I have an airbnb and need to empty out the water periodically so it is fresh for the next guest. I’d like to add it to the steamer.

      1. I did some research on Zero water, according to their website:

        Distilled water involves the process of boiling the water, transferring the steam to another container where the vapors are condensed and everything that doesn’t evaporate will remain in the first container. While the 5-stage filtration system by ZeroWater® uses the process of deionization which involves filtering the water. The ion exchange beads in the filter take the ions or minerals out of the water. The ZeroWater® 5-stage filter gives you the same quality as distilled…

        I don’t see why you couldn’t use Zero water, based on this information above. Let me know how you go!

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