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Clothes Steamer Shopping Guide
If spending your free time getting the wrinkles out of your clothes doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend your evening, then a clothes steamer might be the right solution for you. They are safer for most fabrics when compared to a traditional iron, and they also save a lot of time!
Whether you are flying to your next business trip or prepping your skirts for the week ahead at the office, you are probably wondering—which is the best clothes steamer?
Useful for More Than Pressing Suits
First, it is important to consider how you will be using your new clothes steamer. While clothes steamers are frequently used to get rid of pesky garment wrinkles, as many professional house cleaners can attest, they have a variety of other uses as well.
Depending on the model, clothes steamers can:
Remove stains from curtains and furniture
Sanitize counters and other surfaces
Get difficult-to-clean grout and other bathroom crevices clean
Kill bed bugs (if used as recommended by pest experts)
Some clothes steamers are designed to better tackle housecleaning tasks. In general, if you plan on using your clothes steamer on objects besides your suit or skirts, look for models that feature portability, a leak-proof design, and adjustable levels of steam and power.
For example, the Rowenta Handheld Garment Steamer boasts a portable design, and with multiple levels of steam it can be adjusted to work on a broad variety of fabrics and surfaces.
If you are planning on using your clothes steamer to disinfect surfaces, it might also be a good idea to purchase one that can achieve up to 212°F.
Handheld vs. Floor Units
There’s something about a well-tailored, wrinkle-free outfit that speaks of quality, class, and sophistication. However, as frequent travelers know, no matter how carefully you pack that linen suit, chances are that when you unpack it, it is going to be covered in unsightly wrinkles.
Traveling with a clothes steamer guarantees you’ll always be prepared to tackle wrinkles. Compact clothes steamers such as the iSteam Luxury Edition Steamer boasts a powerful, lightweight design and are perfect for traveling (and with this model’s particularly high reviews, customers seem to agree!)
If you plan on using your clothes steamer for larger projects on a more frequent basis, a floor model might be the best choice. Floor model steamers offer the capacity to clean a larger quantity of garments more efficiently, and they usually include additional accessories, such as hangers, brushes, and wheels to make them easier to move about the house.
It should be noted, however, that these additional features generally make floor units more expensive than their portable counterparts.
Clothes Steamer Water Tank & Capacity
If you need your clothes steamer for more than one pile of clothes, then the water tank capacity will definitely be an important factor for you. Smaller models feature water tanks with a capacity of as little as 4 ounces; they are usually lower on wattage and steaming time as well.
Larger models, such as the Jiffy clothes steamer, offer a water tank capacity of ¾ gallon, and an incredible 90 minute of continuous steam time. At 64 inches high they aren’t exactly conducive to traveling, however, if you are steaming polo shirts for the entire neighborhood sports team, a model like this will certainly do the trick!
Heat-Up Time & Temperature
If you are living an on-the-go lifestyle, you might not have time to wait for your clothes steamer to heat up. With wattages as high as 1500, there are plenty of models that heat up quickly—some, such as the PurSteam Elite can achieve 248 °F in as little as 45 seconds!
Not all garments require this degree of heat; in fact, hot temperatures could be damaging to some fabrics. Units that have custom settings and varying steam levels will allow you to safely clean anything from silk to cashmere.
Attachments & Accessories
With each garment steamer targeted for different purposes, accessories can vary. Here are a few gadgets a clothes steamer might include:
Extendable garment poles
Steam bonnets that serve as a diffuser to better disperse the steam
Hangers and clips to help hold your garment in place as you steam it
Fabric brushes to help detail your clothes
Steam boards for detailing collars, sleeves, etc.
Wheels (to improve mobility of the unit)
Some clothes steamers include fabric brushes to make it easier to seriously detail a garment. So if you have a designer suit you want to keep in tip-top shape, a clothes steamer that includes accessories like these might be the best choice.
The basic functionality of steamers involves simply that—steam. Your chemistry teacher would remind you that steam is water which has reached 212 °F. You do not want to have that kind of heat making contact with your skin!
Some of the following safety features are important to consider when shopping for a clothes steamer:
Automatic safety shut-offs for when the unit is left unattended, overheats or runs out of water
Burn prevention measures, including a unit safety cap that can’t be removed if the water inside is too hot
Double insulated hoses and components designed to stay cool to the touch
Leak-proof designs that prevent hot water spills for a wide variety of movements
Water tanks that are easy to clean; moisture in the water tank can cause mold build-up, so if you think your clothes steamer will be sitting on in a closet for weeks between use, this might be something you’ll want to consider.
It is also important to remember—whatever unit you choose, only use it in the way it is designed!
Perfect for Upholstery, Curtains, and Cashmere
Clothes steamers are incredibly versatile. Whether you are using them to get the wrinkles out of a garment that is just impossible to iron, or you are hoping to get that pesky stain out of the living room couch, the odds are that the right clothes steamer can offer a swift solution.
If you are simply tired of ironing, clothes steamers can be an incredibly affordable way to take good care of your wardrobe. The best part is, you are less likely to have unsightly marks on your fabrics—because while crisply pressed shirts are always in, iron burns are not. Once you're ready to razzle-dazzle your best clothes, compare and review our top clothes steamer picks and start living iron-free in no time!
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