Best Clothes Steamers of 2018
In addition to eliminating wrinkles from clothing, a clothes steamer can smooth out curtains, bedding, tablecloths, and other home linens. Our shopping guide is here to help you find out which clothes steamer is right for you.
Why a Clothes Steamer Is a Game Changer
Enough wrestling with that cumbersome ironing board. A clothes steamer can help you banish wrinkles from your wardrobe without the fuss of an iron. It's useful for more than just de-wrinkling clothing, too. You can use a clothes steamer to smooth out curtains, bedding, tablecloths, and other linens.
Why are clothes steamers so great? For one thing, they're portable. There's no need to relegate your clothes steamer to the laundry room when you can easily transport it from room to room, freshening window treatments in one area and smoothing linens in another. The hot vapor leaves your fabrics looking good as new, and it also helps kill bacteria and eradicate pesky odors.
You can even purchase a travel-size clothing steamer for business trips or summer vacations. With a travel steamer in your suitcase, there's no need to obsess over packing your garments perfectly, and you don't ever have to use that grimy hotel ironing board again.
Types of Clothes Steamers
You might opt for a standing clothes steamer; this item resembles a vacuum cleaner and features a tank that holds lots of water and delivers lots of steam. Standing clothes steamers start around $40 and range up to around $200, depending on how "high end" you want to go and how much you're willing to spend.
Or you might prefer a handheld clothes steamer; this is smaller than a standing garment steamer and can be purchased in regular and travel sizes. Most handheld steamers with essential functions won't set you back much more than $30. A travel-size clothes steamer has a limited water capacity and typically delivers only enough steam for one garment at a time.
Features to Consider
The best clothes steamers heat up in a jiffy, so you're not spending precious time waiting around when you could be doing other things. Not all garment steamers are ready to go as soon as you power them up, though. Heating time varies from less than 60 seconds to several minutes. If you tend to be in a hurry when prepping your clothes, look for a steamer with a fast heat-up time.
A quality clothes steamer has adjustable temperature knobs or dials that allow you to select the appropriate heat level for the fabric at hand. For example, satin should be steamed at a much lower temperature than cotton. You want a clothes steamer that can treat each of these fabrics accordingly.
Choose a clothes steamer with the right water tank size to meet your needs. Capacity varies from 4 ounces to greater than 90 ounces, with standing steamers holding the most liquid. A standing steamer can run for up to an hour on a single fill. A handheld steamer typically holds enough water to run for about 10 minutes. Travel-size models may only be able to operate for a few minutes at a time.
How to Use a Garment Steamer
We weren't kidding when we suggested that steaming clothes is much simpler than fiddling with an iron. Just fill your clothes steamer reservoir with water, turn it on, and wait as the water heats. When the appliance is ready, press the trigger to release wrinkle-fighting steam onto your fabrics.
It's best for clothes to be hanging when you steam them. Gravity helps prevent the fabric from re-wrinkling, and you have better control over the process, too. A light touch is all that's needed to rid your clothes of stubborn creases. Because there is no need to press down, little hand strength is required. That said, if you have a weak grip or arthritis, opt for a clothes steamer with a continuous steam function.
Why Steam Cleaning Isn't for Everyone — or all Garments
We're not suggesting you abandon ironing altogether. In fact, there's nothing wrong if you happen to prefer the task. For some, ironing is a relaxing chore.
But if you don't like ironing, you don't need to spend tons of money on dry cleaning services to get fresh-looking clothes. Steam cleaning is fast and convenient. The drawback? Clothes steamers, unlike irons, aren't designed to be pressed onto clothing—which means you can't create crisp, clean lines like you would with an iron. Irons are also better when dealing with thick fabrics plagued with stubborn wrinkles.
Before you spring for a high-end steamer, inventory your closet. Take stock of the types of clothing you wear repeatedly. Certain fabrics don't respond well to scalding steam, and if your wardrobe is filled with collared shirts, an iron might be a better investment.
A clothing steamer can't remove stains from your dry-clean-only clothes, but in between trips to the cleaner, you can use a garment steamer to freshen them up. The hot steam can remove unsightly wrinkles, banish foul odors, and help revive drab-looking clothes.
Scale buildup on your steamer should be addressed regularly to avoid staining your clothes. Check the owner's manual, as many brands have specific decalcifying formulas they recommend for their products.