6 Best Steam Presses | March 2017
- multiple dry-heat and steam settings
- auto shut-off whether open or closed
- creates 100 pounds of even pressure
- molded heating element
- freshens and deodorizes clothing
- lightweight and easy to carry
- one-handed operation
- suitable for delicate fabrics
- safety lock to protect kids and pets
To Press or Iron?
A steam press, also known as a clothing or garment press, is of a higher commercial grade than conventional irons that it typically used by dry cleaners to press clothes and fabrics. They are an essential tool for tailors, dry cleaners, and sewers.
However, you don't have to be one of these persons to benefit from a steam iron. Ironing in itself is a tedious chore most try to avert at all costs. If you're one of those people, a steam press may change your viewpoint entirely: they're more efficient and require less energy than ironing.
Pressing consists of holding an iron down and applying pressure on the fabric, allowing the generated steam to create or reinforce creases, pleats, or hems. Ironing is the process of sliding an iron across the fabric to remove creases and wrinkles. For this reason, a steam press should not be used in lieu of an iron; the two appliances are used to compliment one another.
The modern process of pressing fabrics consists of using steam and electricity. The iron plate of the press heats up at temperatures between 180-220 Celsius with the use of electricity. A thermostat installed in the press will ensure that the temperature remains consistent. A reservoir of water in the press is then heated through the iron plate and converted to steam.
The steam expels out from the iron plate and presses the fabric, loosening the chains of molecules in the fibers of the material. At this point, the heat straightens the fibers and they cool into a new shape. This process can create creases or remove wrinkles.
Different fabrics press best at certain temperatures. Every iron or press will dictate optimal temperatures for each fabric being pressed. They contain a self-regulating thermostat which switches on and off to keep the temperature consistent with the fabric setting.
To Steam, or Not To Steam?
Purchasing a steam press is an important decision. Given the financial commitment it is best to determine if it is warranted. The benefits of the steam press are bountiful. They give clothes an even, wrinkle-free appearance with minimal time and energy. They tend to work faster and more efficiently than their handheld counterpart, the flatiron, and they require less physical exertion of dragging the iron back and forth across the fabric.
They also eliminate the need for an ironing board, as the steam press itself covers a larger area, which equates to less total presses on the fabric. The generous amount of steam means you only have to press clothes once; as opposed to two to three times with a flatiron. Lastly, the investment of the steam press over time will save money compared to a commercial dry cleaning service, not to mention time wasted in your day retrieving clothes from the cleaners.
Of course, some concerns about steam presses must be voiced as well. The first concern is cost. It's definitely an investment and many steam presses cost more than five to ten times the amount of handheld irons. They are potential hazardous; given the combination of heat, electricity, and steam.
The steam press as a whole is quite large, making it difficult to transport. Given the fact that the primary purpose is to create folds and creases, they are ineffective at getting wrinkles out of small areas. A handheld flatiron would be more effective for that purpose. Lastly, most steam presses are bulky. Very few include a stand of their own and you must have a flat large surface nearby to rest the steam press upon.
A Brief History of Ironing and Pressing
As with many inventions, the ancient Chinese are usually credited before myopic Americans rush in to steal the glory. The use of heating metal pans filled with coals and pressing them on fabric dates back to the first century BCE in China.
Jumping forward to Europe In the 17th century, slabs of iron shaped into triangles were heated by fire and used to press fabrics. A tailor's stove was historically used in tailor shops to heat multiple irons from one single heat source, expediting the process.
The first portable ironing board dates back to 1858 by W. Vandenburg and J. Harvey. The purpose was to ease the pressing of sleeves and pant legs. Curious as it is, the modern ironing board has not seen much technological improvements over the past century.
The first electric iron dates back to 1882 and it was invented by Henry W. Seeley. This iron, while revolutionary at the time, had no thermostat to regulate the temperature. It wasn't until the 1920's that such a iron emerged which introduced steam. It was credited to Thomas Sears and it became a commercial success and set the standard for ironing that we enjoy to this day.