A clothes (or garment) steamer is a manually operated machine which uses the intensity of steam to remove crumples and creases from clothes and a variety of fabric products. Unlike a traditional iron’s surface, the wand or nozzle of a steamer does not make contact with fabric, reducing wear and tear on more delicate items and reducing the dexterity of hand and time required to deal with fiddly seams, buttons and pleats. That reduction of wear and tear directly impacts clothes’ longevity.
Once more likely to be the province of professional cleaners and stylists - by virtue of high price tags and cumbersome builds - there is now an excellent range of clothes steamers available to buy for home use. Designs do vary but the core idea remains the same: water, stored in a well or reserve, is superheated until it converts to steam. That steam builds and is then concentrated through a tube up which it travels and is released via a broader outlet head: the wand or nozzle.
While ironing often requires differing techniques for different fabrics or styles of clothing and thought to be given to temperature setting changes between garments, steaming is a far more user friendly process. That concentrated steam when directed towards crumples and wrinkles quickly acts to smooth them. The ease and efficiency of steaming means that many people opt to ditch their iron altogether and solely rely upon a clothes steamer to despatch that ironing pile.
Beyond their efficiency as an iron alternative, clothes steamers can also help to refresh or revive clothes between dry cleans. Particularly for delicate or specialist garments which cannot simply be washed but may not need a full chemical clean to simply remove a lingering smell or crease. That scent removing ability makes steamers popular for use on upholstery, mattresses and bedding too. The super high temperatures are an efficient way to kill dust mites and therefore can be beneficial for allergy sufferers.
Steamers offering the option of vertical hanging allow quick and easy whole garment steaming while the addition of a longer hose tube and cord meant that curtains may be steamed in situ. A huge time saver for users with window treatments in need of a refresh which also saves both money and the fading which can occur with repeated deep chemical cleans. In fact, a clothes steamer keeps offering those financial savings - every single time a trip to the dry cleaners is avoided!
Here we’ll look at a cross section of the best options available right now:
The BestSteam Clothes Steamer is a really nice example of how well a professional machine can be emulated for home use. Compact, easily moved, super fast heating and built to a very high standard, the copper core lasts 5 times longer than its aluminium equivalent making this a solid investment for your household. The wheels mean the steamer may be used across the home allowing tablecloths to be steamed is place, sofa and armchair upholstery to be freshened and those aforementioned dust mite busting powers to be fully utilised.
That 3 litre tank makes this a machine best suited for regular, heavy use. It is ideal for busy family life or a larger home and would be a viable iron alternative thanks to those 6 settings. Precision decreasing around buttons, on cuffs, flies and seams massively reduce that wear and tear and take away the risk of manmade fabrics becoming shiny or your delicates scorching.
Features: 3l water tank - 6 adjustable power settings across variety of fabrics - 85 minute continuous usage - Ready to use in 45 seconds
Pricing: High end
6 adjustable steam levels, an 11 hole steamer head and generous capacity water tank give the Blusmart 1450 watt vertical clothes steamer many of the virtues of a pro steam cleaner. A foot operated switch, casters for easy transfer across floors and a retractable pole make this a very flexible and user friendly machine across the home. And that 70 minutes of continuous usage mean battling with the leaning tower of ironing that has built up across the week need no longer require multiple refills of that tiny reservoir in your steam iron and hours of precious downtime.
The Blusmart 1450W is a best of both worlds clothes steamer, with those high end virtues we’ve catalogued to help it earn its keep and a realistic price tag to prevent you feeling compelled to chuck out your trusty iron and use the Blusmart 24/7 instead. Although it is so effective that you ought perhaps to start seeking out a safe place to permanently retire the iron. Just in case...
Features: 2.2l water tank - 6 steam levels - 70 minute continuous usage - Ready in 45 secs - 1 year warranty included
Pricing: Mid range
Coming in at the lowest price point, the Salav 1500 watt Clothes Steamer is a sensible starter machine. Its attractive silver and black finish, smooth transfer action and handy accessory storage prevent it looking like the budget option and the 98 degrees of heat it achieves in just 45 seconds still represents sufficient steam power for most household pressing and freshening needs.
If you have a smaller household or intend to buy a steamer as a companion to your regular iron the Salav 1500W Clothes Steamer would be a pragmatic choice. Quick heating and reliable - with a 1 year warranty for additional peace of mind - it will cope well with light to moderate household use. And, most crucially, that 98 degrees of steam heat will still allow you to treat bed linens and upholstery, go longer between dry cleanings and protect your favourite clothes from iron damage.
Features: 1.8l water tank - 4 steam settings - 50 minutes continuous usage - Ready in 45 secs - Built in accessory storage
There are 3 strong steamer choices here covering a range of household needs and demands across different price thresholds and all are very good, versatile, home use machines. Ultimately, though, our number one won us over by straddling the middle ground between good value for money and a checklist of pro features so well.
The Bluesmart 1450W Vertical Clothes Steamer, in a distinctive and contemporary purple and white finish, impressed us by having the capacity and temperature output of a much pricier machine. The auto shut off feature and ability to achieve that key 100 degree - dust mite decimating - heat suit it well to family life. While 6 adjustable steam settings filtered through the 11 holes of the clever steamer head guarantee a crisp, smart, finish.