The 10 Best Travel Steamers

video play icon

This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in December of 2016. The only thing more unpleasant than wearing wrinkled clothes is ironing them. Luckily, you can look your best on the road without breaking out a board with these travel steamers, as they smooth out a variety of fabrics while also tucking away in carry-ons. Be careful, though, because they use boiling water, and it turns out that severe burns are even worse than having to iron things. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Conair Turbo Extreme

2. Beautural 722NA

3. Polardo STM-01

Editor's Notes

January 24, 2021:

During this update we included a few more models that have metal faceplates, as these allow you to press areas of your clothing that have stubborn wrinkles that aren't coming loose with steam alone. The Conair Turbo Extreme, Beautural 722NA, and Rowenta DR8120 X-Cel are all examples of this. The Beautural 722NA stands out for another reason, too. It is the only folding option we currently recommend. Additionally, we choose to remove the Panasonic L70SR, because though it offers a steam button, it truly is just a travel iron, and already have a dedicated list for those. The Polardo STM-01 is one of the most expensive options, however it is also one of the lightest and most compact models that remains effective, so many will find it to be worth the money.

October 08, 2019:

Due to concerns over potentially dangerous water spitting, we've decided to remove the Maibet Mini, Lemontec Portable, and Magictec Handheld at this time. With that said, any steamer can burn you if it isn't operated carefully, so keep your hands away from the nozzle and be sure to follow all given directions.

For those who need a relatively long run time, we've added the Hilife Handheld, which doesn't need refiling every few minutes like some smaller models. We also like the Polardo Portable for its integrated filter. After some consideration, we've kept the Conair Travel Smart, although it's not the best with truly stubborn wrinkles. If you're the type to ball up your clothes and toss them in your suitcase, in other words, it may not work for you. Finally, we selected a couple of dual-purpose models that combine vertical steaming functionality with an iron. These include the Panasonic L70SR, which takes the shape of a standard wireless iron. It might be overkill for a casual vacation, but anyone heading to a quilting or sewing retreat may find it perfect.

Special Honors

Steamery Cirrus No. 2 The cost of the Steamery Cirrus No. 2 might be slightly shocking, considering that this unit does pretty much the same thing that less expensive models do. Nevertheless, it has a high-quality, rather than flimsy, feel and a sleek look. More importantly, though, it is very effective.

4. Hilife HL7

5. Housmile 3013A01

6. Glamouric GL865

7. Rowenta DR8120 X-Cel

8. Conair Travel Smart TS184X

9. Sunbeam Press GCSBHS

10. Pure Enrichment PureSteam

Keeping Clothes At Their Best

There is also minimal concern for the steamer overheating to such a degree that its surface potentially burns the very fabric a person wants to improve.

Imagine yourself in a hotel room getting ready for a job interview with the company of your dreams. You plan to meet with top-level executives. Everything is going according to plan with the exception of the clothes you're wearing. You're unlikely to dazzle the interviewers wearing a shirt full of wrinkles. You also can't travel with a bulky iron, nor do you want to entrust your clothes to hotel staff. As an alternative, a travel steamer will ensure you appear dressed for success when on the go and in front of your new would-be employer. Dressing well is an important part of a first impression, with a profound psychological impact on a person's self image. The travel steamer can help you maintain a positive self image by keeping your clothes in pristine condition.

Designed in the shape of a tea kettle with a small internal water tank, a travel steamer is responsible for boiling and releasing water in a completely gaseous state to remove wrinkles from various fabrics. The steam is released through a flat nozzle at the top of the unit. Whereas a traditional iron makes direct contact with a garment using a heated metal surface, the travel steamer blows evaporated water onto clothing without actually touching the fabric at all. By doing this, the steam essentially loosens the bonds formed between long-chain polymer molecules in the fabric, reducing the appearance of visual imperfections in the clothing itself.

Aside from being easy to pack in a suitcase, travel steamers offer several benefits you won't find with traditional irons. Because the steamer doesn't make direct contact with clothing, less wear and tear occurs on the fabric. The steamer relaxes clothing fibers instead of forcibly flattening them with a hot metal surface. This makes the device well-suited for removing imperfections from more delicate fabrics, such as silk or from weaves that include velvet and satin. There is also minimal concern for the steamer overheating to such a degree that its surface potentially burns the very fabric a person wants to improve. Now, we're not telling you to hang your clothes in a running shower stall for steam. After all, walking into a job interview won't go over too well wearing a wrinkle-free suit that's also dripping wet. But the operation of a travel steamer will help to extend the longevity of certain garments between wash cycles.

The travel steamer also helps to kill potentially harmful bacteria that accumulates on fabric, such as E. coli and salmonella. This is particularly helpful in situations where you have clothes that are dry-clean only or rarely washed at all. The device is also multi-functional, meaning it can be used on other objects such as: drapes, upholstery, pillows, and even carpeting. Finally, the travel steamer is environmentally friendly. It removes certain allergens from a garment's surface without the use of detergents and other materials with strong odors that could otherwise pollute the surrounding air.

Getting Steamed Up For All The Right Reasons

As it's name suggests, the travel steamer simplifies the process of revitalizing clothing when going from place to place. For that reason, considering its overall performance is key. The unit should be able to heat ordinary tap water in under two minutes, so that it's ready for use as soon as possible. Additionally, the larger its water tank, the less often you'll be forced to refill it when you're in a hurry. Obviously, a machine the size of a tea kettle isn't going to have the capacity for several gallons of water. However, the device should be energy-efficient and able to maximize the volume of water it does contain.

Additionally, the larger its water tank, the less often you'll be forced to refill it when you're in a hurry.

In terms of construction, choosing a steamer made from sturdy and lightweight BPA-free plastic is the smart choice. It's relatively easy to keep clean and withstands heavy use.

The outlet holes for the steamer should be uniform in shape. The best machines release smooth and steady streams of steam from their nozzles, not in the form of splattered water vapor. It's important to understand the distinction between steam and vapor so that you know your device is powerful enough to heat water without making a mess. Drippage need not apply.

Finally, consider a device with a built-in automatic shutoff feature for when its water level runs low. This will help to prevent overheating and extend the machine's life.

A Brief History Of The Travel Steamer

First evolving during the early 1900s, the garment steamer was considered the solution to the constant wrinkling of men's bowlers, fedoras, and other felt-made hats popular at the time. In those days, steam emanations from home-based tea kettles were often used to straighten out disheveled headwear. This spawned a commercial obligation for businesses to design a machine capable of removing imperfections from various articles of clothing. The earliest attempts merely consisted of a hose and brush head attached to a kettle-shaped device.

This spawned a commercial obligation for businesses to design a machine capable of removing imperfections from various articles of clothing.

The first dedicated garment steamer appeared in 1940 and was credited to the Jiffy Steamer company. Jiffy's Model J-1 was specifically made to steam hats without requiring home-based fires or kindling. With this invention, businesses soon realized that the J-1 was also capable of removing wrinkles from garments that were difficult to iron.

Today, the garment steamer has become a necessary companion for the busy traveling professional who is unable to have their clothes laundered on the go. Consider, for a moment, how important the mobile phone is to that same professional. Without technology to keep the person connected to colleagues and family, travel is exponentially more difficult. Now, while there is no direct correlation between a cell phone and something that turns water to steam, both devices do serve to make travel more convenient in their own ways. From a perspective of portability, the travel steamer is no exception to the rule.

Brett Dvoretz
Last updated by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For more information on our rankings, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.