Step backstage at any Fashion Week and you’ll be greeted by an abundance of clothes steamers. Yep, there are more garment steamers floating around behind the scenes of the hottest catwalk shows than there are pairs of hair straighteners or bottles of hairspray. Yet it wasn’t until the recent return of weekends breaks that we bothered to see what all the fuss was about.
Do clothes steamers really work?
Turns out clothes steamers are genuinely life-changing. While your traditional steam iron will continue to work wonders on garments like crisp white shirts or tailored trousers, it’s *not* so great at handling the creases that arise on ruffled summer dresses, pleated skirts or more intricate items. Plus, bog-standard irons aren’t suitable for super-delicate fabrics. That’s where clothes steamers come in. They don’t have the prolonged, pressured contact with the fabric in question, so they preserve the quality of your garment while quickly removing wrinkles on even the trickiest staples in your wardrobe.
Clothes steamers can also be used to treat garments you’ve worn once – and want to wear again – but don’t have time to iron. They can be whipped out and ready to use in under a minute, making them seriously convenient. Especially for the time-poor among us. Plus, they’re portable, so you can pack them away in your suitcase and give your clothes a bit of a refresh when you’re on holiday. So long, sub-par hotel room iron.
And that’s not all: garment steamers are good at sanitising (steam kills 99.9% of bacteria and lifts odours), so you can use them on curtains, duvet covers, pillow cases, bed sheets… the lot. Talk about multi-tasking.
How do I choose a garment steamer?
What to consider when choosing a clothes steamer? There’s plenty. But fret not – our handy shopping guide will come in useful.
First up, there are two types of garment steamer: upright and handheld. Our main focus here is handheld steamers, because they’re much lighter, more compact and easy to carry around with you. They’re also more affordable than their upright counterparts – largely due to the smaller water tanks. Upright steamers have large water tanks, so you can steam for longer, and they usually feature built-in hangers to assist in heavy duty jobs. They’re bulkier, not portable and more expensive.
In terms of features, there are certain things that set top-rated steamers apart from “average” models. Look for…
- Weight. If you’re opting for a handheld clothes steamer, something that’s lightweight will aid in easy use. This Insta-famous Steamery clothes steamer weighs just 590 grams.
- Range of steam settings to suit a wide variety of fabrics.
- Fast heat-up time. Take the Tefal Access Steam+ DT8150 Hand Steamer, for example. It heats up in an impressive 40 seconds. Elsewhere, the Philips Steam & Go Plus heats up in 29. Woah.
- A large water tank if you’ve got lots of heavy duty garments to rid of creases.
- A trigger lock if you want to enjoy continuous steam without having to hold your finger down.
- Additional accessories like travel bags or hangers, particularly useful if you plan on taking your steamer away on holiday. Steamery’s Cirrus No.2 travel steamer comes with a detachable fabric brush for steaming sensitive materials such as silk and wool.