The 10 Best Clothes Steamers
Steamers...What's New and Different?
The less the steamer weighs, the easier it will be to maneuver during use.
Those buying a small travel model will want to find one that is compact and lightweight.
Hollywood stylists have known for years that steamers are often faster and more effective on fabric than the more widely used pressing iron. As it happens, steamers can also help remove odors, and - if the water's hot enough, even bacteria and dust mites - a definite boon if you're trying to refresh long-stored garb. There are a few key features you should keep an eye out when choosing the best model for yourself.
A garment hanger, which is a pretty standard add-on for full-size steamers, makes steaming pants and T-shirts easier. They are usually in the shape of a hanger, oftentimes with clips. Some models feature hangers that only accommodate a single article of clothing while more advanced units may have a rotating system of hangers for high-volume steaming applications. A lint brush is another convenient addition that helps to remove lint during the steaming process, so your garments look spiffy and are ready to wear immediately after you finish.
If you like to accentuate the creases in your T-shirt's collar or the pleats in your pants, a model that comes with a crease attachment can help. As you probably guessed by the name, they are specifically designed to put long lasting creases in your clothes ensuring you look just as good at the end of the day as you do the beginning.
Another helpful feature on full size models is a telescoping pole. While pretty much everyone can appreciate slightly altering the working height of their steamer for more comfort, it is especially beneficial to anybody who is out of the average height range.
Those buying a small travel model will want to find one that is compact and lightweight. The less the steamer weighs, the easier it will be to maneuver during use. Since handheld models have the reservoir built into the steaming unit, you'll have to find the right balance of comfortable use and convenient operation time. Both styles can benefit from fill indicators. These let you know exactly how much water to add when filling it, and when you need to take a break from steaming to add more.
Steaming vs. Ironing: The Battle Royal
OK, maybe we oversold it, but here's the deal:
An iron is durable and easy to use. But it puts pressure on the fibers, in effect stressing them out. Repeated ironing over time can wear out fabric. While this may not seem like a big deal when it comes to starchy cotton or linens, it can be really detrimental to lightweight or delicate fabrics.
Enter the steamer - which relies mostly on the steam itself to deflate the wrinkles, rather then pressure.
Enter the steamer - which relies mostly on the steam itself to deflate the wrinkles, rather then pressure. This hands-off attitude allows fibers to be free and easy. In practical terms, it helps your delicate clothing last longer. Despite being considerably easier on clothing, modern day models are nearly as efficient as irons when it comes to removing any traces of wrinkles.
Steaming instead of ironing isn't just about keeping your clothes in optimal condition for as long as possible, though. It's also about convenience. Just the thought of pulling out an ironing board and setting it up is enough to fill most of us with dread. That's because ironing is a time-consuming hassle most of us would rather avoid. This is doubly so when staying in a hotel, where you have to walk down to the front desk hoping they have an one to let you use unless you packed a travel iron. Steaming clothes takes less time than ironing, is easier, and almost fully eliminates the possibility of burning them.
Steamer Issues: Trouble in Paradise
The steamer is a trusted tool. Unfortunately, issues with operation can arise. There are some tactics to help keep your steamer running smoothly. Don't overfill the reservoir. As with most steam irons, using too much water can lead to leaking, spitting, or worse. Just respect the limitations of the product, which means staying within the lines. If you're highly creative, it might be tough. But stick it out in this instance. It's also imperative that you never let the water level get too low. Running on empty is not a good idea, as it can cause the element to overheat or burn out. Most steamers have an automatic safety shut off in case it runs out of water, but it is still a good idea to keep an eye on the reservoir.
Most steamers have an automatic safety shut off in case it runs out of water, but it is still a good idea to keep an eye on the reservoir.
Wait until the water heats before you get started. This could be a matter of seconds. (But that might seem like forever when you're rushing out in the morning.) Steamers tend to drip and spit if the water is not yet hot. They also won't be very effective because, if the water isn't hot, there won't be much steam, which is obviously vital to this endeavor.
If using a full size model, don't allow the tube to get twisted. It doesn't seem like it would matter, but with many models, a crease in the cord can lead to spitting. Whether it's a handheld model or a full size one, always keep the unit clean. Limescale is not your friend...with shower tile or with your steamer. Regular maintenance helps forestall poor performance. If too much scale builds up, it can potentially block the flow of steam.
On many units, it doesn't matter how you store them, but for some the manufacturer will provide recommend storage instructions. Follow whatever directions are given for storage, if any. If the manufacturer suggests emptying the reservoir or detaching all attachments before putting the steamer away, go along with it. After all, a penny saved...I mean an ounce of prevention. (Sorry!) Every model has its particular quirks. But using common sense when operating any steamer is a good idea.