Clothes steamers use water steam to safely remove creases from your clothing without the hassle of an iron or need for a bulky ironing board. Steaming is quick and doesn't require as much skill as ironing. Standing steamers work better but take up more space; handheld and travel-sized ones are also available.
If you're curious about these products, read our guide on everything you need to know when purchasing one, including our product recommendations. Our top pick from Rowenta delivers an hour of continuous steam.
Considerations when choosing clothes steamers
There are three types of clothes steamers, which are also called fabric or garment steamers. All of them work on clothes and curtains.
Also known as "upright" clothes steamers, these consist of a large water tank that sits on the floor or on wheels, a pole to hang your garments to be steamed, and a steaming head attached to a vacuum cleaner-like tube. These are the most effective steamers. They are designed for home use and require significant storage space.
This type of clothes steamer is compact enough to hold in your hand, like an iron. Handheld steamers aren't as effective as standing steamers, but they take up a lot less storage space.
Clothes steamers designed for travel are even more compact than handheld models. They fit in your suitcase and are handy if you've got business or formal clothes to press, especially in hotel rooms that have low-quality irons and ironing boards.
Heating time: Select a clothes steamer that heats up in 30 seconds to two minutes. Any longer defeats the purpose of having this time-saving product.
Steam temperature: Clothes steamers vary on their maximum temperatures as well as temperature control features. While wrinkles disappear faster when exposed to higher temps, they may damage delicate fabrics like velvet or silk. If your steamer doesn't have a temperature control, you can move the steaming head further from the fabric so it doesn't damage your garment.
Continuous steam: Continuous steam is a convenient feature if you don't want to (or aren't physical able to) constantly hold down a button in order for the unit to produce steam. Steamers that offer continuous steam have an on/off switch. This feature is desirable for longer steaming jobs and for people with joint pain.
Tank capacity: All steamers have a water tank that needs to be filled. The larger the tank capacity, the longer the unit will run. Standing steamers have a tank capacity between 40 and 90 ounces, running up to 45 minutes. In comparison, handheld steamer tanks can only hold between four and eight ounces and run up to 10 minutes at a time.
Clothes steamers range in price from $20 to $200.
Handheld steamers start at $20 for basic ones, and run between $40 and $70 for high-end models.
Standing steamers range from $40 to $60 for basic models, and high-end models start at $100 and run upward of $200. You can find a quality standing steamer for between $70 and $90.
Q. Do I press the steamer head to the fabric while steaming?
A. No need to press, just gently touch the steamer head to the fabric when using your steamer. However, if you're steaming silk or velvet, never touch the head to these delicate materials. We also recommend turning silk garments inside out when steaming to prevent watermarks.
Q. Do I need to clean my fabric steamer?
A. If you live in an area with hard water, we recommend cleaning your steamer out with distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to remove mineral or limescale buildup. Simply fill the well with a solution of water mixed with vinegar and steam it out into the sink. Refill the tank with water and steam out any lingering vinegar before using on clothing.
Clothes steamers we recommend
Best of the best: Rowenta Master Valet
Our take: A state-of-the-art standing clothes steamer with a large capacity.
What we like: 81-ounce tank boosts one hour of continuous steaming. Comes with handy accessories like a fabric brush and a lint pad.
What we dislike: On the pricey side, but this unit's durability is worth the investment.
Best bang for your buck: Steamfast SF-407
Our take: A standing steamer that's good value for your money.
What we like: Heats up in just 45 seconds. 40-ounce tank delivers 45 minutes of steam time.
What we dislike: Some units only last a year or two.
Choice 3: PurSteam 180mL Fabric Steamer
Our take: A handheld steamer that works for travel and at-home use.
What we like: Affordable. Powerful performance for such a compact unit thanks to its steam channeling technology.
What we dislike: Small water reservoir.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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