The 10 Best Clothes Steamers
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in March of 2015. If you have a hectic schedule, chores like ironing garments can be tough to fit in. But one of these clothes steamers allows you to forego a clumsy board and still make a good impression on colleagues and friends by releasing wrinkles in fabrics gently using the power of vaporized water. We've included both home and travel models, so you can look good anywhere you go. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 14, 2020:
Whether you are looking for an at-home or portable choice, you'll find an option here, as we've included both large stand-up units and small handheld models. When it comes to the former, we've kept the popular Rowenta Master Valet as the choice to beat, since it is powerful and comes with a range of accessories. Not only that, but the vertical screen makes your work much easier, as does the built-in hanger.
If you're looking to spend a little less, the Conair Upright Deluxe or the PurSteam Professional might be your go-to, but we've removed the Salav Professional over concerns about its long-term durability. There's also the Pure Enrichment XL, although interestingly, despite the name, it has a smaller tank than does the Professional model. But both will operate for a long time continuously, so if you have a big job to tackle, they'll help you get it done.
As for handheld models, we selected a couple of new choices, since the Shark Press and Refresh is unavailable and the Urpower Compact is smaller and less powerful than many current offerings. Perhaps the most impressive of these new additions is the Sunbeam Handheld, which is more durable than many and has a wide-press bar for removing really stubborn wrinkles. The Conair Turbo Extreme remains as a strong choice, too.
April 26, 2019:
The Rowenta Master Valet took the top spot because it has a sturdier pole than most upright models, and the unique vertical support that can be pulled down for quickly pressing out deep creases. Plus the option to pause it quickly by taking your foot off the pedal saves water and is essential for helping to prevent accidental burns when adjusting a garment.
We ranked the Conair Turbo Extreme as the top travel option because of its impressive heat output and the versatile accessories, including the built-in crease tool on the head.
While the Pur Steam Elite doesn't feel as robust as the other larger home models, we included it because the pole is detachable and collapsible, making it possible to take this lighterweight option with you, if you need to steam a bunch of costumes at a theater.
Reliable 9000BU-3800IA Steam Boiler For professional settings, the Reliable 9000BU-3800IA Steam Boiler can get the job done. It offers dry, pressurized steam; a strong, stainless steel construction; the option of continuous operation if hooked up to a water line; robust casters that lock securely; and much more. reliablecorporation.com
Samsung AirDresser With the Samsung AirDresser in your closet, you can refresh and sanitize with virtually no effort, as this steam-producing cabinet does all the work for you; in fact, you can control it right from the SmartThings app. Installation is simple, too, with no professional plumber or electrician required. samsung.com
Steamers...What's New and Different?
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 than pressure.
Enter the steamer - which relies mostly on the steam itself to deflate the wrinkles, rather than 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 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.
It's also imperative that you never let the water level get too low.
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 recommended 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.