can i use tap water in my steamer
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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.

The mineral deposits in tap water wear down and corrode the metal inside your steamer over time. Some may also cause build up inside the steamer, known as calcification. This causes your steamer to become blocked, produce less steam or spit water. Using tap water will shorten the life of your steamer.

This is why you should never use tap water in any steam generating device.

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.

What is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is a type of purified water that has had both its minerals and impurities removed.

This is essentially boiled water, then the water vapor (steam) is condensed back into water again. Any minerals or impurities that do not condense into steam are left in the original container.

As distilled water is created from steam, is free from minerals and impurities. You might sometimes see it referred to as pure water. Unless your steamer manufacturer recommends otherwise, distilled water is always the best choice for your steam generator iron and steam mop, floor steamer or portable steamer.

Distilled water is also very cost effective to buy, at under $2 a gallon at Walmart and Amazon, this is much cheaper than replacing your steam mop or other steam generating device when you’ve destroyed it by using tap water.

Where to Buy Distilled Water

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

You can purchase distilled water at Walmart by the gallon, however, this was not available online and only available by attending a Walmart store.

What is Demineralized Water?

Demineralized water has had its ions removed, but any organic particles or impurities that don’t have a charge are left in the water.

Demineralized water is very similar to deionized water, where the ions have been removed. They may have different names due to the process used to remove the ions from the water.

If your only choice is demineralized water or regular tap water to use in your clothing steamer, demineralized water is the better choice. You may still need to descale your steamer however, as mineral buildup from organic particles or impurities may occur over time.

What is Deionized Water?

Deionized water is also a type of purified water. It has had its ions removed.

Tap water contains both positive and negative ions. Examples of positive ions are calcium, hydrogen and iron, examples of negative ions are chlorides, sulfates and nitrates.

The water is filtered through positive and negatively charged resins. The positively charged resins attract and bind the negative ions in the water. The negatively charged resins attract and bind the positive ions in the water. The binding removes the positive and negative ions and results in deionized water.

Whilst the ions have been removed from the water, other minerals and impurities may remain and may cause damage to the internal working of your 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.

Filtered water 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 and spring water are very similar in properties to filtered water. Please follow the advice listed in the paragraph above.

Can You Use RO water in a Steamer?

RO (short for reverse osmosis) should not be used long term in steam generating devices. RO water can contain scale-forming minerals leading to build-up in your steamer. It can also cause streaking on your floors, or marks on your clothing. If you have no other choice, use reverse osmosis water temporarily, and descale your steamer regularly.

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 I Put Essential Oils in My Steamer?

No. Oils are not water soluble and will harm your machine. Please read this post where I offer alternatives to essential oils, including safe perfumed water options for steamers.

Best Distilled Water for Traveling

This isn’t a very cost effective way to purchase distilled water, but certainly is handy, especially if you travel. These 12 ounce bottles are great for packing in your suitcase and using with your handheld steamer.

The quality of the water stays fresh as it’s not exposed to contaminants in the air. Great for portable or travel steamers, or for those who only use their clothing steamers to steam a few items at a time.

can you use tap water in a steamer

Can you make Distilled Water yourself?

Yes! There are many counter top machines available or you can follow my tutorial to distill water at home (includes a video).

Prices range from approximately $70 to over $1000. We’ve spent hours on Amazon looking at all the different water distillers, as this isn’t a product we own ourselves. There are certainly mixed reviews between different price points as far as quality of both the machine and distilled water go.

The water distiller with the least problematic reviews was:

H20Labs Stainless Steel Water Distiller

H20 Labs Stainless Steel Water Distiller
$279.00

This compact, 304 grade stainless steel water distiller includes a porcelain nozzle to pour the distilled water into the glass carafe. If you have hard water in your area you'll appreciate the included cleaning crystals for the distilling machine, and the activated charcoal filters. The low 565 watts of power won't cost you an arm and a leg to run. Put it on overnight and by morning you'll have 1 gallon of distilled water ready to use.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/24/2022 11:07 pm GMT

This countertop home water distiller produces one gallon of distilled water at the touch of a button. Whilst it’s not the cheapest distiller on the market, upon researching water distillers, the H20Labs Stainless Steel home water distiller had the highest reviews when it came to ease of cleaning, sturdiness, customer support and life of the product.

There are many other choices available on Amazon.com ranging from around $70 to over $1000. Some of the cheaper models are made of plastic, also with plastic jugs for the water to filter in to. If you’re not concerned about the environmental impact or potential contaminants in plastic (as we are) then a cheaper plastic version may suit your needs.

Consumers have reported cheaper models arriving with no instructions, no buttons to turn on or off (having to unplug it at the wall) and terrible tasting water, including an increase in measurement of solids in the water after distilling with the cheaper versions.

We’ve chosen the H20Labs Stainless Steel Distiller as at the time of writing, there were minimal reports of problems with this distiller. It seems the downside of purchasing a water distiller is the warranty is only 1 year. H20Labs also offer an extended warranty (at an additional fee) for up to 3 years.

Best Budget Choice for Home Use Water Distillers

I tried to find a water distiller under $100 to use as our recommendation, but in all honesty, after reading what consumers had to say, I can’t recommend one. It seems you get what you pay for when it comes to the cheapest water distillers on the market.

I don’t own a water distiller as distilled water is cheap to buy if you get it from the right place. A few dollars for a gallon is all you should be paying – don’t go paying any more than you need to!

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.

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2 Comments

  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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